I was asked the other day if I was still in love with You.
The conversation to that point had washed up gently on various shores, and the ebb and flow of communication was peaceful. My friend and I had drifted sleepily through the conversation, languishing in its peaks and troughs as time went by.
Her question capsized me, suddenly dumping me into chilly seas when I least expected it.
Had I ever been?
I trod water frantically, gasping for breath; reaching for a response I didn’t have.
I grabbed hold of the remains of my composure and clung tight, bobbing up and down with them, thinking hard.
Firmly, definitely, no.
The answer fell from me as it calmed the turmoil in my mind – the inverse effect of a pebble rippling a pool – and poured oil on troubled waters, letting me see clearly.
The thing I’m learning (and one of the greatest, most joyful things You taught me) is that love is almost certainly not the way you ever thought it might be. Much like life.
You helped to shatter all my preconceived, neat little notions about love, life, and myself. You pushed past the limits of what I thought I’d ever dare to get myself embroiled in, and we just went with it (whatever ‘it’ was) for a while.
It was definitely love.
Definitely base-over-apex tumbling into lusting, and yearning, and wanting, and wishing. It was real; struck through with challenges and clashing worlds, studded with inherent no-go’s. It was a mess. It was the most glorious, glitter-coated, intoxicating bouquet of clandestine indulgence I’ve ever been involved in.
And it was with You, whom I loved before, during, and since.
The fact we cared so deeply about one another beforehand made it possible. It was the solid foundation which endured the violent swerve off-road, into a downhill plunge across entirely new territory. We genuinely cared about each other, regardless of the more immediate desires, which consumed our attention.
I think that made it safe, or safe-ish. I don’t think I ever questioned whether we would remain friends afterwards. I just knew. I hope You did.
We also knew it was finite.
Not that there was a deadline or end-date, but we knew from the offset it wasn’t a forever deal, not in that way. Can you really be in love if you know it’s never going to be a happily-ever-after scenario? It didn’t stop Romeo and Juliet, but they were kids, and I wonder how much our times outside of time were stained with the colours of real life. Do you open the chambers of your heart in the same way when the reality is staunchly opposed from the offset?
Did we even need the chambers of our hearts, other than to rush the adrenaline-infused blood through our bodies as fast as ever it could be rushed? We were high on life, on each other, on the sudden worlds of wonder which had been opened up to us, and…were we thinking straight? Not even close.
Our hearts, typically staunch in their connections to reality (give or take), were sent careening off, giddy with release, newness, and excitement, and we buzzed with electricity for each other to the exclusion of all common sense.
It was probably the most intensely alive I had ever been. I was caught up in a world of blue skies and gold shimmering sunshine. I felt I finally understood some of what the great (and manifold) writers describe when their words attempt to portray ‘in love’. Colours were brighter. Songs were catchier. Fun was funner. Moments were imbued with multiple layers of meaning. Everything was heightened.
*I* was heightened – I was walking around on cloud frikkin’ nine, ten hundred feet tall, and a million excited for every day, even when I didn’t see You, because every day meant another day feeling how I felt; I was living life really, properly loved. For the first time.
And yes, it really was the first time, fleeting (in the grand scheme of things) as it may have been.
It was the first time I had truly been accepted, wanted, desired, and enjoyed just for being me…and it transformed me. I don’t think I ever really told You how much. Guess I thought because it wasn’t your first time at any of this, it would come off as silly, immature, and I probably underestimated you in keeping this from you. Really, I think You just would have been pleased for me. I hope You are now.
With You, I became who I really am. With You, I took my biggest ever steps towards accepting myself, and learning to love who I am, because You loved me first, and showed me just how far that could go. You opened up a world of possibilities to me, the first and foremost being to show me viscerally, delightedly, beautifully…repeatedly…how breathtakingly wonderful it is when someone loves you.
It made me believe they might again. Someone, somewhere, someday. It set me on a path I’d been struggling to get to, and had found impossible to find on my own. Self-acceptance no longer seemed like an impossible goal, because I had already been accepted completely as I was, by someone who really wanted me. All of me.
Love this breathtaking and incredible was no longer a dream, but a reality, and one I had indulged in. Ergo it could be a reality again, with the right circumstances and the right person. I just had to wait. I just have to wait.
But in the meantime, thank you, so, so much, for the gift of all that we had. All we still have. All the Things.
NB. I reserve the right to remember all this in precisely the manner I remember it, with (in all likelihood) scant reference to many of the realities of the situation. I also know this is one very subjective side of a two-sided story, so you’ll just have to take my word for it.