crazy in love

If I wanted to seem noble, I'd say that my silence over the past weeks was born of a desire to protect the privacy of the person largely responsible for that silence - the man who has consumed most of my free time and nearly all of my thought, energy, and emotion since the moment I realized that I was falling stupidly, helplessly, giddily, and irrevocably in love with him.

But that wouldn't be entirely true.

Yes, there is some of that. But my absence has had other causes, as well. Fear, for one. Fear that, at any minute, not only was I going to feel the thump of the other shoe dropping squarely on my head, but that I'd step out of my apartment one day and a veritable rainstorm of other shoes would pummel me into the ground where I stood, leaving me bruised and bewildered, and facing the fact I've kept expecting to be faced with: This isn't real. It cannot be this good.

The shoes haven't come yet, though. Every day I peek up at the sky, bracing myself for a downpour that fails to materialize. 

I'm going to put the umbrella down now. It doesn't appear to be necessary.

---

I told him the other day that for most of my adult life, I was terrified to believe men like him - and relationships like the one we are building - exist. I refused to believe it, in fact. I couldn't believe it, for my own sanity. I couldn't allow myself to believe that relationships could ever be so healthy and loving. So easy. I couldn't allow myself to believe there were actually guys who were so open and vulnerable and affectionate and warm and communicative and ready to love and be loved. Guys who would tell me every day how grateful and excited they were to be with me, how funny and fun and beautiful I am. Guys who were emotionally available and expressive and playful and eager for intimacy, and dedicated to making me feel safe enough to be my truest, most authentic self.

Because if I allowed myself to believe all of that, I'd have died of jealousy long ago.

I've spent the better part of my adult romantic life, since my mid-twenties on, convincing myself that no matter how big the smiles on the faces of other couples were, they couldn't possibly be that happy - because I certainly wasn't, with any of my partners. Least of all the one that was supposed to provide me the greatest happiness, 'til death did us part. Shitty relationship after shitty relationship, incommunicative, closed-off guy after incommunicative, closed-off guy, I developed a self-protection mechanism that was basically the belief that no relationship is that great, and no guy out there is looking to love and be loved in the way that I am. 

And then six weeks ago, someone walked into my life and exploded that myth in the middle of a downtown Starbucks. And nothing has been the same since. And nothing will ever be the same again.

---

Laying in bed, holding each other and just shamelessly staring in one another's eyes. An activity we have yet to grow tired of. Crazy in love, he says. I smile and breathe and swallow down a lump of sugar that no longer tastes like disbelief, or fear. Because I know he is. And he knows I am, too. Still, I just accept his words without reply. Not ready. Am I ready? Am I? You can't go back from this. Once I make it real with my words, it's over. I've never known anyone like him, not even close. He is so right for me, I couldn't have written him into existence any more perfectly. 

It's okay, he says. I'll go in the icy water first. It's nice in here, though. You should come in.

I trace his cheek with my fingertip. I wish I had a hundred photos of your face, I say. Starting when you were a baby. Just close ups of your face that I could make into a time lapse movie, so I could watch this perfect jaw form. See this dimple get deeper, this cleft in your chin grow. So I could catch up on what I've missed. His smiling eyes tell me how much he loves hearing this. This is a gift he gives me - happily accepting my love without pushing it away. He values himself enough to just simply accept affection.

He has no idea how revelatory this is, and how rare.

He played a song for me the other day, and all I could think the whole time was Why hasn't he sent me this before, on Spotify? Who is it? Why haven't I heard it yet? It's so awesome. A neighbor knocked before he was finished, and he had to leave for a few minutes to help move a sofa. As soon as he was done, I pulled him back into my arms and asked him. What song was that, that you were just playing? 

Actually, it doesn't really have a name, he started. And my jaw dropped when I realized it was his song. He'd written it. And my heart packed yet another suitcase. I don't think it's going to be mine for much longer.

---

Last night, riffing on The Hobbit (which we watched half-heartedly, because wow what a childish and silly and disappointing movie that is), he made me laugh harder than I can remember laughing, I don't know, ever maybe? Seriously, maybe ever. Afterward, he confessed a fear that he won't be able to keep it up, his ability to entertain me. He told me he's afraid that there was some trick to landing me, to "winning" me, that, not knowing what it is, he doesn't know if he'll be able to duplicate it, and keep me happy.

I shake my head at him, cup his face with my hands, and look into the eyes that take my fucking breath away daily. Don't you get it? It's just you being you. Unless you're planning on having a personality transplant, nothing will change. You exactly as you are is what makes me so happy. 

I repeat it, slowly and clearly. He needs to understand. You make me happy. Period. 

This is what it's like with him. Clear, direct, honest, loving communication. You have a fear, an insecurity? Tell me. Make me understand. We are in continual touch, emotionally. If something is bothering me, resolution is a simple and calm conversation away. He makes it that easy, because he listens without interruption, with his whole heart open, with empathy and compassion and the genuine desire to get us back to our best place. No defensiveness. Just listening and a wish to understand. I had no idea this was possible. Like I said, if I'd had any idea relationships could be this healthy, I don't know if I could have stood waiting nearly fifteen years to find one.

---

He takes photos of me. Of us. All on his own, because he wants to. He has no idea how much this means to me, his desire to capture moments, to document and remember it all. It always hurt me, in other relationships, the seeming disinterest of my partners to want to take pictures. He'll grab my phone in the morning and just snap a pic of us laying together, me squealing in protest and covering my face. Or if I do something silly, or make a face he thinks is cute. 

He joins me at the mirror sometimes, when I'm getting ready. Wraps his arms around me and says, Look. That's us. The sight of us together makes him happy. He holds my gaze until I can barely stand it. This is it, he says, staring back at me. And it is. This is as it as it gets. 

After we move away, he sighs. We should have taken a picture just then

We're going to have tons of pictures together, I chide.

So let's do it, he says. Let's start doing it already. And I can hear the urgency in his voice. He's ready to fully inhabit the space we've been carefully, cautiously carving out together.

This is the kind of love he shows me. Making it happen, making it real, making it ours to keep. Money where your mouth is. Action not words.

---

You're a game changer, he says. He tells me that since meeting me, some of the bullshit in his life has dropped away. And I know exactly what he means, because I feel a change, too. My priorities are shifting, and he inspires me to be the best version of myself, even when taking steps towards that Ellie is terrifying. 

We talk about what we want from this relationship. I didn't know people actually did this. I didn't know people actually discuss their values and needs with their partners, in an effort to get closer to one another. I was pretty sure that only happened in self-help books and movies.

Bottom line: I have never felt so loved and accepted and appreciated for being exactly who I already am.

I cannot believe my luck. I just cannot believe it.