When it comes to love, I usually tell people something along the lines of, “I’ve never seen it up close before.” My parents have been divorced and borderline hating each other from my earliest memories. Most relationships that I was even slightly privy to fell apart. I knew the idea of love that was packaged and sold in books and movies and epic TV shows featuring the dashing heroes and heroines and risk-it-all plots. You know, the Superman-Louis-Lane, I’d-give-the-world-for-you-plus-I-have-a-six-pack kind of love.
For the overwhelming majority of my life, I was missing what usually constitutes as heroine and/or damsel characteristics, but I was convinced that was the kind of love I wanted anyway–just, with a few touches of reality. For instance, if he was aware of race/gender tension in the world and also managed to be a bit worldly, that would be ideal. I definitely wouldn’t complain about a six pack and a pretty face.
I made it a priority, though, when imagining love, to take reality into consideration–the fact that money is the issue that make most relationships go awry, and some people just put on a facade for the sake of playing the game. Some people just aren’t interested, but they want to feel loved so they’ll string you along. Some people think they know what love is but find out that they don’t. Some people cheat for whatever reason. Some people just fall out of love (and no matter what, the man I loved was bound to do two things: fart, and make me cry). I didn’t want to be so naive that I’d miss those signs. I didn’t want to be made a fool of that way, so I tried my best to learn from everyone else’s mistakes. Because of those standards (along with my inability to focus well on most people), my romantic escapades were blissfully yet agonizingly short, few, and far between.
I happened across a man during a tough time who showed he was sincere from the first day. His “how are you’s” and “are you okay’s” weren’t empty; I knew from the way he stopped and looked at me that if I needed to sit him down and tell him about everything that worried me, he’d listen. When I did open up to him, he heard me and was always considerate, kind and helpful. And when we spoke, we spoke about all the places we’d love to travel and the music we’d love to listen to and we didn’t skim over the hardships of life and the world. In spite of all of my acquired cynicism toward love and life, and all of the rough right hooks life had thrown at him, he has an optimism and idealism that’s contagious.
By the time I realized he didn’t have a six pack or a Hollywood face, I’d already fallen for him.
That’s not to say that making the decision to stay and commit was an easy one.
As I mentioned on my Valentine’s Day post, it’s only been a little more than seven months since the start of my relationship with “T”. People have known they’ve met their soulmates in less time, but I know that things can go wrong. Faith in fate isn’t enough to win my certainty. Until recently, a culmination of paranoia and what I’d convinced myself love would or should be like filled me with doubts. At any questionable financial decision, disagreement on political issues, show of frustration that wasn’t expressed with calm words, questionable use of language or hint of what could be prejudice toward certain demographics (but usually wasn’t when I’d ask him to elaborate), I’d wonder at our compatibility. I’m proud, and I was raised to be independent and skeptical. It isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But how could I balance truly loving someone with that girl that I was that always said her happiness and success in life wouldn’t depend on anyone else?
There came a time, though, when wondering at our compatibility, holding it under a magnifying glass and picking it apart didn’t make me feel safe and secure in myself at all. Instead, it made me anxious. I realized that I didn’t want to even imagine a life without “T”. If we fell apart, I wouldn’t be the a-okay, strong person that I convinced myself I was. As risky as it is, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m going to let myself depend on him–the man who will wake up at any hour of the night to comfort me and try to calm me down when I’m stressed and anxious beyond sleeping, even without me asking; who will make me breakfast with coffee (and he knows exactly how I like it) every morning; who is on my side even when I’m positive I’m being annoying and unreasonable; who knows when I’m happy and when I’m upset; who relishes in my laughter; who has undying faith in me, and who makes me want to do and be better so that we can be happy together, go to all of the places we wanted to go, see all of the things we wanted to see, and experience a world better than the one we know.
I think that’s what love is. And when you truly know it, it doesn’t give you a chance to question whether or not it’s worth the risk.