I was going to buy a card today…but the damn things are five or six dollars, and I know I can say it better for free.
So here we go.
You are the love of my life. I knew you would be early on, even though you can never really be sure how things will turn out. Even when all I had of you was a picture and the words you churned out on the screen, there was a connection…a spark…the beginnings of something.
And when I met you in person for the first time, I knew that butterflies in the stomach and weak knees were for real, and that adults were just as susceptible to “love at first sight” as hormone-doused kids. I saw you sitting at that table in the middle of the bar with your friends, a blue plaid flannel shirt and jeans, your sandy blond hair combed back, and your blue eyes met mine from across the room. My heart raced, and my stomach flipped. I had hoped the “in person” reaction would be positive, but it was instant and deep for me. Just that first eye lock. I felt flustered in your presence, like an awkward teenager on a first date.
We talked for hours…or rather, I talked and you listened, because that’s what I do when I’m nervous (and drinking) — fill the air with words. Your calm, cool, collected, confident facade threw me, and I simply felt insufficient…like I had to work to impress you.
When we parted that night (or rather, early morning), and you gave me a hug, with no move towards kissing (though I yearned for it…and more), I was thrown again. I was so used to being the one who intimidated, the one who decided what would happen at the end of a date, and this put me in a position that, once again, made my footing unsure. It wasn’t a matter of feeling unsafe or uncomfortable (though I suppose I was, a bit); it was more a situation of feeling unsure – the suspense of not knowing what would happen next…maybe the right word is anticipation.
The hug was warm, and I had the feeling that you were interested. But you kept me at arm’s length, purposefully, toying with me as if I were the cat and you held the string. It was a superb strategy. You played me right into your arms, likely sensing my longing and knowing that remaining a bit distant would only make me want you more.
I don’t remember the particulars of our first sexual encounter, beyond the fact that it was just a few days after that initial hug and that you send me a dozen long-stem roses at work the next day, which pretty much sealed the deal for me. When I told my mother that you’d sent me flowers, she asked me what I’d done to earn them. Of course, I feigned disgust at the comment, but inside, I imagined that whatever I’d done, it had been right enough to warrant this gift. It felt like getting a big fat A+ on a project I’d worked long and hard to complete. I was bursting with pride and accomplishment. It might sound silly and juvenile. But, I wanted to impress you, and the roses showed me I had been successful.
We spent many nights together from then on…fucking…making love…talking and laughing and getting to know one another. It moved quickly, because our connection was deep and intense and strong. And I was maybe too impatient to move things along because I was approaching 30 and we both knew we wanted kids.
I know I screwed you out of the opportunity to propose, and I truly wish now, in hindsight, I hadn’t. The romantic in me knows that I missed out. I know you would have made it memorable, and it’s my own fault that it ended up simply being a consensual decision to get married, rather than a movie-worthy moment I could look back on with fondness later in life.
But our wedding was perfectly ours, and I wouldn’t have changed a thing about the rehearsal dinner, the venue, or the parties after. I wanted it to be simple, and I think, for the most part, it was. The complications that came were mostly caused by others and were sort of out of our hands – i.e. family drama. You were the most handsome I’ve ever seen you that day, in your white suit, standing across from me, saying words that still mean everything to this day.
In good times and bad…
We’ve been through a lot since that day – a steep change in your career, along with the education and time/absences necessary to get you there; a rather terrifying birth; dramatic ups and downs in our sex life; two near divorces; “infidelity.”
But even at our lowest points, neither one of us has been able to completely let go. There has always been that something that has tied us together. Maybe the ghost of that red ribbon tied around our hands when we said our vows? Something had demanded more of us. Something has been unwilling to let us give up. And we have found each other again.
Things aren’t perfect. We have compromised to keep our house together. We don’t have the same sex drives or the same love languages or the same philosophies on monogamy. And yet, here we are, still loving each other as deeply as we can. Growing together, changing, opening.
Room for growth…
That quote I love…which I will probably, at some point, have tattooed on my forearm because it keeps coming back to the forefront of my life…seems to apply here: “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful that the risk it took to blossom.”
We are back on sure footing after several hard years. And now it is time for us to blossom. For you to remain tight in the bud is painful…to deny your inner being, your needs, your desire, is wrong, and it would be wrong of me to require it of you simply to retain my own comfort. Comfort isn’t necessary in a relationship all the time. Sometimes growth is painful and hard, but refusing to grow and change is more painful…and harder.
We have a strong connection…a solid foundation from which to build and invent and experiment and explore. That should be celebrated. And it is that which I celebrate this Valentine’s Day. That is what I feel a relationship should be – a place of endless opportunity, where both people have the chance to be and do what they need most for themselves and for each other.
You are my rock…
You help me to be a stronger and better version of myself, because you believe in me, because you love me, and because you support me. You are, excuse the cliche, my rock. You are my safe harbor.
I love you for so many things both physical and emotional: your intelligence, your inappropriate sense of humor, your intense gaze that sees right through me and turns my insides to jello, your strength, your courage, your goodness and kindness, your honesty, your thoughtfulness….
I don’t always give you credit for being romantic, but honestly, some of the gestures (though sporadic) I remember most have been incredibly romantic – collecting a bouquet of daisies (my favorite flower) from along side the road to bring home to me after work, little love notes hung from string in the kitchen, post -it notes covered in hearts all over my desk at work, texts and phone calls just to tell me you love me.
I love you…
When I say I love you, quickly, on my way out the door every morning…or while we’re snuggled up on the couch watching TV at the end of the day, or when you wrap your arms and body around me in bed at night before we go to sleep for your “five minutes”…all of this is tied up in it. When I say I love you, even though it’s a swift whip of the tongue and few voiced syllables, what is behind it and in it is everything we’ve done, been, and said in the past. I don’t always think about it, not every time I say the words, but it’s important that you know “I love you” means so much more than two pronouns hugging a nebulous verb. While our love may be hard to define or explain to someone outside of us, “I love you” is more like “You remember what you mean to me, right?” or “This is just a reminder that I’m still all in.” They aren’t meaningless words said automatically in habit. They are said very intentionally every time. Every. Time.
I know our D/s has been off, and our sex life has been off. Illness keeps grabbing hold and getting in the way. Life gets in the way. Bedtime gets in the way. Loads of things that both matter and don’t get in the way. But, we both know, that under it all, it’s waiting for us. It’s waiting patiently (and some days, not so patiently) for us to pick up where we left off. After all, even when we aren’t doing any sort of ritual or routine, and even though there’s no collar or cuffs, and even though we don’t do this the way anyone else does, we both know who’s boss, and we both fall into our roles naturally without dressage or living up to an outside label or definition. Your dominance is in your eyes and your tone, and everything in me bends to everything in you.
I want you (and apparently everyone else) to know that you are my person. You are the one I trust with all of me. You are the one I want to come home to every night. You are the one I want to grow old with.
I(love)You. Love is what holds you and I together, but we choose, every day to continue this journey together.