smitten

I wait until I know he's out for a few hours, then I grab the two down pillows I've bought in the fabric district, a tape dispenser, and the three page invitation I've drawn. I take the stairs up to his apartment, just in case, so I don't bump into him.

I prop the pillows in the corner by his door, and tape the pages to the wall.

You are invited to be my partner in feathery violence on International Pillow Fight Day, Saturday, April 7.

Itinerary as follows: 1pm - pillow decorating session (markers will be provided). 1:30pm - caloric fortification (known to some as "lunch"). 2pm - journey to battle field. 3pm - THE BATTLE BEGINS (and lo, destruction was wrought, verily). Please RSVP.


The response choices I gave:

Yes! I'm in! And I seriously can't think of a more fabulous way to spend a Saturday. / Regrets! The first Saturday of every month is reserved for ball-shaving and I missed last month, so the situation is DIRE. / Other (please indicate).

An hour later, he texts. You're the funnest girl ever invented.

He comes down for a bit, and we talk and listen to music. I'm feeling a bit stressed about being unproductive, so I pull a Classic Ellie and displace some of my anxiety on to him. He calls me on it. It's your responsibility to take care of your own shit. Don't sleep all day. Get up and do what you need to do. I feel ridiculous. I'm supposed to be the more mature one. Are you sure you have room in your life for this? It takes a lot of energy to be in a relationship, to care about someone else and their feelings. I absolutely do, and tell him as much, but there's still some tension between us. He's internalizing the crap I've just dumped on him, and I hate myself for it.

When he gets up to go, I stand on the bed and wrap my arms around him. I make him repeat after me. My girlfriend is perfect for me....My girlfriend sometimes gets behind on sleep and gets cranky and starts saying stupid shit...

I don't let him leave until he's smiling again. When he turns at the edge of my hall to wave bye, I run and slide to him, sock-footed. He catches me and scoops me up. I wrap my legs around his waist and he pins me to the wall. His eyes break my heart, they're so full and sweet. He buries his face in my hair and says "I'm in love with you," then tells me to say it back. I say it softly first, then louder. Then I throw my head back and yell it, using his full name. "I'm in love with you, _____!!!"

He goes to work out, and I head out for a run. He texts when he leaves the gym. You're crazy. And lovely. Yelling in the hallway made me blush. And now I'm smiling about it.

He stops by later, on his way to dinner with a friend, as I'm getting ready for work. While I chat up his friend, he stands close to me, his hand on my hip. As they're leaving, he leans in and in a low voice against my cheek, tells me again that he loves me. I cannot get enough - of the words, of the way he always puts his mouth close to my ear say them. The best secret never kept.

At work, I receive this: Sorry for getting a little touchy before, you're my favorite person/activity/cohort and I really love that/lover/provacateur/evacateur/promiscumistress/BFF/sex kitten/neighbor/cookmate. I read it several times, my eyes circling back to the BFF bit again and again. Your sign is the best thing ever created on paper, he says. I'm pretty sure Martin Luther scooped me with his proclamations, I reply. He tells me he'd love to see me before I go to bed, when I'm done with work. Your creativity is so sexy, he adds.

When I get home, I go straight to his place, sweaty and flushed from my twenty minute bike ride. He's left the door open, so I let myself in. He's sitting at his new workstation, atop a bar stool under the Edison lights he's just hung. His laptop is open in front of him; I can see he's working in Illustrator.

While I lounge in an overstuffed chair and regale him with work anecdotes, he finishes up his project. It's for me - his reply to my pillow fight invitation. All the while he's working, printing, writing, spray-painting (all out of my view), he tells me how much he loves this, what we're doing - the creative, artistic, silly, playful exchange. I don't know how to tell him how one in a million he is, that he feels this way. I don't know how to tell him that guys don't do this stuff, and it means the world to me, too.

Finally, he's done, and he presents his work to me. I'm speechless. He's designed, written, printed, and mounted a multi-media RSVP, complete with gold-leaf feathers on it. It's ridiculous and beautiful and over the top in the best possible way. He's checked boxes that say Hell Yeah! and Other!, and written I'd love to. I've become smitten, enamored, and generally taken aback in the loveliest of ways by the loveliest of girls, Elizabeth Baker. If she goes, I will most certainly be in attendance, in the best form, with the finest and cleanest down pillow that I can find.

I play him some music he's never heard, while he cooks me an omelette. Freelance Whales, The National. He's meticulous about how he serves me, plating it beautifully and adding garnish to the hummus he's put on the side. A fervid love of hummus is the latest culinary commonality we've discovered between us: we could both eat it by the spoonful, and do. We marvel for the dozenth time at how well we "synch up", as he puts it.

He shows me some of the early work he's done on his next round of paintings. He plays his film school thesis project for me, and I read some of his shorter writings - pieces I'd skimmed on his portfolio site before, but never looked at closely. He wants to share these things with me, needs to even - but gets uncomfortable the minute I start to compliment his work, which is thorough, thoughtful, and exciting.

I leave to crash back at home; I'm utterly exhausted, and he has an 8am TV installation. As I'm collapsing into bed, the phone rings. He's calling just to tell me how much he cares about me, how happy he is we've gotten together.

I sleep harder than I have in ages.