I’ve been writing a lot lately. I’ve been writing about body image and society and politics and several other issues relevant to life in 2016. I have upwards of 100 topics in the workshop and I look forward to developing them all.
But tonight, I feel it necessary to write about something weighing heavy on my heart. I want to write about falling in love.
It was my 19th birthday. I was blissfully twirling through life, freshly enrolled in a hometown college, dating a surprising and unexpected person from high school. It was a whirlwind romance – an unexpected and chemically explosive frenemy connection. We clicked in a way I’d only read about in weekend-worthy romance novels and I was in heaven. I couldn’t get enough of this person…I was crushing hard.
For my 19th birthday, he took me to dinner at a restaurant that would eventually become our ‘go-to’ for special occasions. Despite being four months into a relationship and 19 years old, I remember that evening distinctly as the moment I fell in purposeful, real love. Dressed in our 19-year-old best and (sickly) holding hands and gushing over one another at the table, we enjoyed a delicious dinner. The waiter came by to ask if we were interested in viewing the dessert tray. I, of course, refused. But he insisted. So out came the dessert tray…and sitting amidst the cheesecake and chocolate lava was a robins-egg blue Tiffany’s bag.
I was shocked. My hands cupped my mouth in earnest surprise as the waiter smiled with genuine joy and allowed me to receive my gift. It was a Tiffany’s bracelet and the happiness beaming across my boyfriend’s face having pulled off this feat of engineering was priceless. I was elated at the gift…but it wasn’t the Tiffany’s jewelry that made me fall in love. It wasn’t the complimentary crème brulée or the candlelight or the expensive check at the end of the evening…it was the time. Earlier in the day, he’d driven to the restaurant and provided them with specific instructions and entrusted them with my gift and planned the entire thing. The time. The thoughtfulness. The sweetness. I was swept away.
Fast forward four years. We were living together, away from home for the first time in our lives. We were bombarded with negative naysayers…”It changes everything…you’ll fight all the time…it’s going to be rough.” I think we both secretly waited for the fallout of the inevitable bottom. It didn’t come. It was seamless and we genuinely enjoyed sharing space. We never fought. We loved the same artwork and furniture and enjoyed spending our weekends at the farmer’s market and our trademark weekend “adventure days”…driving to random places in Michigan to see what we could find.
Three months before our breakup, we decided to take a drive on a random Saturday, as we often did. We landed at a road-side zoo near Frankenmuth. It was a long-shot…it was already late fall and we hadn’t planned on stopping. But we did. As luck would have it, we were some of the last visitors of the season and were able to meander the grounds in near solace. It was a perfect day. So perfect, in fact, I remember standing at the enclosure of a cougar and stopping to stare at my man. It was 60 degrees. The sun was shining. We were adventuring, as always. I distinctly remember thinking, “this is the most perfect things will ever be.” It was as if my subconscious already knew doom was approaching…and I was savoring the taste of this blissful moment.
Three months later, we would become strangers.
He randomly cleaned the apartment when I worked late and left notes on the counter reading – “Thought this would make you happy – I love you.” Once, I fell in love with a pair of hippy dippy Steve Madden wedges at TJMaxx…but they didn’t have my size. He scoured eBay, found them, and had them delivered to me. He waited in a line in Ann Arbor with me for two hours just so I could sit front row for my favorite folk-artist….he hated folk rock music…and we’d already seen Jackie Greene in concert…twice. He laughed and obliged when I demanded 20 second hugs every day after work…because I’d read an article about the positive psychiatric effects of 20 second hugs. He was a truly remarkable man.
Sometimes I have to ask myself: “What do you know for sure?”
Here’s what I know for sure. He wasn’t always a saint. I wasn’t always a saint. I’m sure I could easily compile a list of wrong-doings. I’m sure we were never meant to live happily ever after. I’m sure we’re both on completely different paths at this point…with different goals and different priorities and different ideologies. And I’m sure we’re both fine.
I know for sure it is 100% okay to acknowledge the reasons you fell in love and to appreciate a relationship in hindsight. It’s not about “getting over it,” which inevitably happens over time. I know for sure that I am “over it.” But I also know it’s a terrible waste to forget what happened. It’s a terrible waste to disregard the precious moments shared during a space in time.
So often, we’re told to get angry and stay angry. Just get pissed, right? And stay pissed and hate that person and hate that you ‘wasted’ time and energy on a relationship.
But when the dust settles, and the anger fades, and perspective is the only healthy option available…why not fall in love with what it was? Why not fall in love with that season? Why not relish in those moments of happiness and joy?
That person might be long-gone…and more often than not, that’s a positive thing. But never, ever fault yourself for falling in love with the story.