happening

Sunday night. I'm at The Vaccines show downtown. I've taken a cab and I'm by myself, sore-footed and nervous about the crowd, but determined to stand my ground. I've been waiting months for this, and have grown fairly obsessed with the band since seeing them at Bonnaroo. The second opener has finished, but the set up for the main act is taking what feels like forever - they won't go on until almost 11.

I've been making small talk with the young couple next to me, who want to know why I'm here alone. I explain that I do this a lot. That it doesn't bother me, and that I only go to concerts where the music is all that matters to me, anyway. The guy presses, presumably in an effort to set me up with the stag friend who stands nearby, clearly listening but pretending not to. "You don't have a date?"

"My would-be date had another show to go to tonight, or he would have come." I'm smiling because I know this is true, and because the fact of it makes me stupidly happy. But the expression I get in return is exaggeratedly skeptical.

"Better than The Vaccines?"  Serious fans, apparently. 

Like magic, my phone lights up with a short video text. I share it with my concert buddies. The three of us watch a six second clip of the red carpet outside the Nokia Theater just a few blocks from where we are. A flash of ball gowns, tuxes, and then a dark-haired man in sunglasses, helpfully narrating "Red carpet!" before hitting the stop button. The man is said would-be date, fulfilling my request for video from his event. As soon as The Vaccines take the stage, I'll fulfill his request for video from mine.

- Gah, can't hear it, but you look so cute. Still waiting, think they're about to go on. First opener was pretty decent, second was horrific.

- I miss you! You are in for the Fox afterparty btw. It's near 7th and Fig if you wanna come after. ...My dad just flirted with Paula Abdul like crazy. He made me take their photo.

- LOL that second text is like the best thing ever. ...Miss you too. My concert buddies are this really cute couple who adopted me since I'm alone.

- Awww want me to come by?

- No no, stay and party with celebs! I'll text you when I get out of here. They STILL haven't gone on.

A minute later:

- Celebrities, free food and drinks, and I'm still bored. Guess I must like you or somethin. =)

- Okay well that made my night.

- Just helped the kid from Modern Family get some pizza. #foxafterparty #emmys

- LOL was that supposed to be a tweet?

- Tried it on you first. ;)

After the show (which is the funnest I've been to in LA, despite my desperately aching appendage), he and I wage independent battles in an effort to communicate and coordinate plans: me, with my painfully throbbing foot, as I hobble away from the theater; him, with a dying iPhone battery. He ends up using his father's cell to send me info about the party, which is ending in twenty minutes. There's no way I can get to it in time with my limp, even as close as it is. And anyway, I'm in ripped jeans and a tank top. Hardly awards show appropriate.

- Hey, just got out. Already 12:11 and I'm slooooow without crutches, so I'm gonna try and catch a cab home.

- Ok I think it might go later cuz lotsa people still here. Or meet you at your place?

- No no! Dude, stay! Emmy after party, are you kidding?? Mingle!

- Haha, thanks but I'm done here. And I wanna see yooouuu.

- Okay well if you're sure, then yeah of course.

- Aaah ok best part of my night. And I talked with Joey from friends so there you go.

- Yessss!

I'm sitting on my kitchen island, mangling a kiwi, when he gets to my place. He knocks before slowly opening the door and peering around at me, a huge, drunken grin on his face. I haven't seen him in just under a day. In the interim, he's gotten a hair cut. Gone are the wispy curls at his neck that I've been playing with for two+ weeks, but the new look is even sexier. Clean and modern, still with enough length to keep him looking boyish. His hair combined with the gorgeous suit he's wearing are too much. I don't even bother with compliments. I just shake my head, shooing an excited Chaucer away from his immaculate clothing.

He joins me. Kisses me. Wraps his arms around me. "Hello, beautiful." He's hammered, I'm stone cold sober, but we're both over the moon. We're both high from the respective fun of our evenings apart, and now giddy to see one another again. We swap stories from our nights. Laughing and talking and kissing and more laughing. I'm mentally pinching myself nonstop.

This is really happening.

---

Leaning over me, I'm on my back, staring up at his perfect face. One of the moments that's coming fast and furious and fucking awesome. And he says it. It slips out, but not really. It's deliberate. He backs away from it immediately, though, knowing he has to - but without losing the smile on his face.

I'm smiling too, but I shake my head. I tuck a piece of hair behind his ear and look at him, amazed. Really? This is real? "You don't, yet. You don't know me well enough to know that. And I don't know you well enough yet, either." He nods. "But you're in love with what's happening," I continue, tasting the magic of the word, so long forgotten, on my tongue. "And so am I. We can say that."

And so we devise a plan. "You're right," he says. "We'll just put it on the shelf for now."

"Exactly," I say. "A jar on a shelf. And every time you think it or feel it, mentally throw it into the jar." The next part I illustrate with my hands. "And when we're ready, we'll take it down, open it up, and pour it all over us." I unscrew an invisible vessel and spill its contents onto my body. "Okay?"

The way he's looking at me squeezes my heart so hard it threatens to stop beating. "That's beautiful," he says, and kisses me.

And now instead, for the time being - as a placeholder - we're saying "jar." Jar or JAAAARRRR or Fuck yeah jar. We say it because we need to say something, when that uncontainable feeling of excitement and joy, that we can't call anything else yet - not yet - takes all the other words away.

Today in response to a silly thing I sent him, to make him laugh, he simply texted me back a picture of a jar. I just stared at it for a minute, imagining it filling up with tiny slips of paper, saying the thing we are not saying yet.

It's really happening.

---

He's in Hollywood, stumbles upon a Paul McCartney sound check for a Jimmy Kimmel taping later that day. Texts me to tell me about it, sends video. Such a rad LA life moment, I say.

And you, you are a part of my rad LA moment. =)

That is what he says back to me. That is a real thing, that is said to me, by a real man, who really likes me, for some crazy reason. Really.

Because this is really happening.

---

So why is this happening? I'll tell you. I'm happy to. God, I am so happy to.

It's happening because finally, and maybe for the first time in my life, I have found someone been found by someone who is one hundred percent open and ready to love and be loved. Someone who is in touch with himself, whose emotional IQ is off the fucking charts, and who shows me care and consideration in word and deed, whether he's by my side or on the other side of town.

He listens to me when I speak. He puts his phone off and away and focuses completely on being present, so we can talk and laugh and be intimate without distraction. Last night he walked across my apartment to take me in his arms and just look me in the eye for a moment, because I happened to have said something random about my father, and he caught the slightest vibration of melancholy in my voice. This is the kind of person he is.

If in texting we have a moment of confusion or miscommunication, he picks up the phone to call me. Maybe I'm crazy, maybe my sense of what is right and good has been completely skewed over the last several years, but I find this to be totally amazing and remarkable. As in, here I am remarking upon it. The guy I'm dating picks up the fucking phone to call me.

He is spilling over with empathy and kindness and joy. I've never met someone so infectious of spirit, and I can't get enough of that spirit. He is unafraid to be silly and goofy, and he'll laugh at himself quicker than at anyone else. The hardest I've seen him laugh was just last night, because I was teasing him about something he fixed us for dinner. And watching him double over with laughter in my kitchen, unable to even press the buttons on the microwave until he caught his breath - that may be the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.

And I have been to French Fucking Polynesia.

It is a really dumb thing to say, to just say Oh gosh, we laugh a lot. Because show us Ellie. Tell us what's so funny. But I can't. I can't possibly recreate every ridiculous conversation we've had that has absolutely reduced me to tears, because I am laughing so hard. In the grocery store last night, screwing around on my scooter and making a scene. So much fun. I feel like I'm in high school. We play off of one another's sense of humor in the most perfect way, and I can't wait to see what he's going to do or say next. We had an entire text conversation today that consisted of memes we made up based on inside jokes we've already piled up - and a .gif-off. One of his meme pics to me was the Confession Bear, and do you know what the confession was? It was "You are making me the happiest I've been in a long long time."

That is a real thing that was said to me, yesterday.

I am trying to remember to breathe.

And speaking of confessions. I confessed to him, the day after I'd stalked the hell out of his acting portfolio, how impressed by him I was. How excited for him I am, to see someone doing what they love, and do it well and happily. And he confessed back to me that he'd read my writing, and that he thinks I am brilliant. That was the word he used, to describe the work I've done, that he took the initiative to seek out on his own. He confessed he'd shared my writing with others, too, though I didn't ask who, because I am shy and I don't want to be any more self-conscious than I already am. Hello, strangers who I hope will be friends. I'm Ellie, and I'm crazy about the guy who pointed you at this weird little world of mine.

He is grateful and appreciative of the time we spend together - he even said those words. "I'm grateful for this," he said.

He said this to me, as he held me and looked in my eyes. And I believe it. Because he returns all of the affection and attention I give him. He mirrors it and makes me feel - down to the cells in my body - that he doesn't take it for granted, that every bit of it is being soaked up, happily. His heart is on his sleeve in the most breathtaking and beautiful way. God it is so beautiful. And the best part is that in being like that, he gives me permission to wear mine there, too. To just put myself out there as someone who is happiest when she has someone to love and be loved by.

Someone who, after all the grief and trauma of her past few years, is finally, truly ready for it.

So that is why all of this is happening, and happening so quickly. I got luckier than maybe I have ever been, and happened to be in the right place at the right time, to connect with someone who has love to give, and is ready to receive love back. Never mind how ridiculously, comically handsome he is, because that? That isn't even what matters. That is just a bonus so huge all I can do is laugh about it, because good grief, how lucky can one girl get? What matters is what I know so far of what's on the inside of this man. And what I am seeing is blowing my mind more every minute.

I've shared a lot of extremely personal stuff here, right now, and while it gives me pause to do so, I've made the decision to go ahead and post it, because it is a gorgeous thing that has been happening to me and I want to celebrate it and remember it, always, no matter what happens tomorrow or the next day. Because life. And because you never know.

And I'm sharing it because you guys have been with me on this sometimes crazy, sometimes stupid, sometimes thrilling, sometimes embarrassing, sometimes heartbreaking journey I've been on for years now. Years. And you've watched me ride the roller coaster of romance and go up-up-up and then come tumbling down, hard, and stay down for months and months at a time.

And because so many of you have been so loving and kind and warm to me, have reached out with your support and friendship, I feel okay - even good - about sharing these intensely personal moments with you, because my god, you've been there for me, and I'm grateful. I'm okay with sharing these things at first, because it is this whirlwind that is happening and if my instincts count for anything, it's only just barely starting and there will be so, so much more for he and I to have just for ourselves, to keep special and private. And I will pull the curtain shut now, I know I will, because that is what's right. That's how it should be.

But right now, tonight, I was too damn happy to keep it all to myself, at least these first little bits. Because I wanted you to know. I wanted you guys to know. This is where I share my life, and this is my life.

It's really happening.