I haven’t been writing much lately. I keep starting to while I’m in the shower. I begin the first few sentences in my head. Then I turn off the faucet and leave the warm steamy world of rushing water, and there’s this beautiful man on the other side of the glass door. He says my hair looks like fire tendrils and my smile gives him goose bumps. His skin smells like home and his lips taste like a mixture of vanilla, honey and butter and the smell of oak and leather, kissing him is like sipping bourbon, but not because he’s been drinking. In fact he hates whiskey, which is admittedly a strike against him since I am from the South, but I forgive him because when I look into his eyes I forget I had a to-do list. We can do anything or nothing at all; it doesn’t matter as long as we are together.
A friend told me once about how she and her honey would just sit on the couch and hold hands. At the time I didn’t understand this. It sounded boring. Now it’s all I want to do.
I am almost thirty, and this is the first time this has ever happened to me.
I have dated a lot of people. I have fallen in love with many men and women, but despite determined effort, I have never really understood this whole relationship thing. I have dated people because it was convenient, because I was lonely and because I genuinely hoped that loving them would somehow be enough to quell my insatiable discontent with life, with myself. We had good times, I cared for them deeply and I learned a great deal along the way, so I don’t mean in any way to belittle the gravity of those experiences. It wasn’t that I was lost or aimless; I had a clear idea of what kind of relationship I wanted to be in… it’s just that I never was in one.
Naturally, I began to wonder if the kind of relationship I envisioned truly existed, so as any intellectual obsessed with matters of the heart would do, I read articles and conducted extensive field research. When I found examples in other couples of what I wanted it was both inspiring and worrisome. At once their presence both confirmed the existence of the thing I desired and denied the possibility that I might have it. I dated -with a few exceptions- really great people: beautiful, kind, loving, intelligent people. I was doing everything right, so if I couldn’t attain the connection and joy I saw apparent in others’ relationships clearly the only logical explanation was a personal defect, that my parts were assembled incorrectly. While my superhero power is loving people, my kryptonite -in bitter irony- is being in an intimate relationship with them.
I believed that an ideal intimate relationship would be the place where I would retreat from the harshness of the world, but my relationship was always the storm from which I felt I needed to retreat. I would write to try to understand the storm, I would dance to try to move the storm out of my body, but there was always a storm. It was coming or going or raging in full force, but there was always a storm. In truth, I am rather stormy. When I was a child, I would dance outside in the rain. I would wake up in the middle of the night and watch the lightning strike outside my window, feel comforted by the booming roar of thunder because it matched my insides. I was always very self-contained: calm, quiet, well composed, but my inner world never felt that way. Over the years, I have done much work to understand and navigate through the squalls, but they remain a constant piece of who I am. Given this fact, it makes sense that my relationships would mirror this intensity …or at least they always have.
This time though feels distinctly different. I actually want to sit still. And even on a terrible, horrible, very bad, worst day ever, when I am having a really rough time, it’s still a pretty good day because he’s there with me.
Mostly, I haven’t been writing because I have been to busy being in awe that this is my life, that it could ever be this good. I cried this week from overwhelming happiness, and until recently I didn’t know that was something you could actually do. While I understand that even good things sometimes end badly, I am daring myself to be hopeful. It is a struggle to give in and be optimistic because I am such a devoted critic, but for now I am simply grateful to be here with him.