I don't know what threshold it is that DC and I have crossed, but lately, something is different. I have loved the kid for some time and have vocalized as much, but that tends to be easy for me, the falling in love part. In fact after only about two months of dating I already felt so strongly about him and nervous for feeling so strongly, because I had just felt a similar way about the last guy and that was a bust, that I ended up telling DC I loved him first, uh like this:
I was being slightly hysterical about him not calling me enough, yes I will admit I am a girl who has ample supply of crazy on hand at any given time, and slightly exasperated he asked me what was really wrong and I blurted out,
"I fucking love you, you idiot!" And then got incredibly nervous that I just did something bad. I broke a cardinal rule of dating. I said it first, (I always say it first for the record, so I don't know why this time surprised me) and after way too short a time of dating. I started to sniffle as he started to laugh.
"Well I fucking love you too, you idiot!" he said back sounding downright gleeful. I had already preemptively started to cry, assuming he was going to get awkward and tell me how great of a friend I was, because numerous men, including my ex-boyfriend had all reacted very poorly to hearing those lovely words.
He asked me when I knew I loved him and I said the words had been wanting to come out here and there when he did things like croon Christmas carols to me when I was feeling blue, but all of a sudden at that exact moment I couldn't hold it in any longer. I asked him when he knew he loved me and he told me since July (well before we'd started dating), but that he had been falling in love with me since he saw me on The Biggest Loser. Now I know you can't run this test on everybody but if a guy falls in love with you when you are 239 pounds, openly vulnerable and at your worst/most exposed then I would say he is worth keeping around.
Now, I have easily claimed love for at least five out of seven crushes/relationships. And I don't think I cheapen the word love, each man made me feel those keen emotions of love and I won't take back feeling a genuinely true affection for these fellas, even if they weren't the fellas for me.
You see, I have been a romantic sap since probably exiting the womb, as I can remember as far back as kindergarten asking myself if my crush had the potential makings of a great future husband. Seriously, I remember it well. Kyle, that 5-year-old crush of mine had a way for including me at recess, his mother liked me (she helped in the classroom sometimes), always a bonus and he sure had a way of creating excellent Play-Doh Pizza--creativity and a love of pizza--he was a winner in my book. And from there I only got more hopeful and excited with each passing year about what different boys brought to their relationships with me. They loved the outdoors, they made me laugh, they went to the same church as me, they wrote poetry, they were kind, tall, dark, handsome, thought I was beautiful, kissed like a dream, you know, all those top-notch ingredients to make the perfect boyfriend.
And I built these findings up, a veritable mental check-list I have been adding to ever since.
*He adores my family and friends- Check
*He is fun to be around- Check
*He showers regularly- Didn't realize I needed a check for that, but I do now thanks to what my best friend refers to as a certain simpleton I dated in college. I won't say more as my dating history is hilarious at best and needs further divulging, ah but for a later date.
But then there are things that never occurred to me to look for or even want and that's where DC enters. It's funny because when my best friend met and married her husband he was nothing like what she had always said she was looking for or typically dated. He wasn't anything like the Wisconsin country boys she was drawn to and fantasized about riding tractors with, I kid Ash, I had to. Instead the man she married liked thrift clothing, didn't watch NASCAR and hated country music. In fact when I first saw his picture, I about fell over. My country-worshiping best friend who made fun of me for listening to Edward Sharpe was not only dating what I thought looked suspiciously like a hipster, but then was telling me how great this Edward Sharpe song was that her new boyfriend had her listen to. You have got to be kidding me. Would wonders never cease?
The point here is, DC surprised me in much the same way. I thought, I am going to end up with some hippy adventurer who just loves the band Phoenix and can't wait to go to Burning Man with me. Ashley warned me it might not end up the way I thought it would. She couldn't have been more right. Besides the fact that DC's go-to music is classic 80's, he is so far from hippy it hurts me. Honestly if I didn't remind the kid to recycle every day, he would undo all the good progress I make!
When after dating him for about three months, I decided to ask DC his thoughts on Burning Man, (an art event and temporary community based on radical self expression and self-reliance in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada) he looked put-off and confused, replying,
"Wouldn't you have more fun doing that with Savannah?" Savannah is my ultra-hippy sister. I was outraged! I mean, of course I would have more fun at Burning Man with Savannah! They probably invented Burning Man with Savannah in mind. But I was distressed that my boyfriend didn't want to go to Burning Man with me! We are a couple. Couples share experiences! He explained that the thought of a bunch of people trading stuff in the desert and smoking pot didn't sound like his idea of fun.
"But I don't want the drugs! I just want the artist experience," I explained. Maybe that would help him understand. He retaliated with,
"Well how much fun would you have at a high school basketball game?"
Now it was my turn to look disgusted.
"Why would I go to a high school basketball game?" I asked. Seriously. I was very confused. Why would anyone who is not in high school or doesn't have a high school aged child or know a high school kid go to a high school basketball game? I quite frankly couldn't think of much worse ways to spend my precious time.
"Exactly," he said his eyes lighting up like he had more than made his point. I was astounded. He felt about Burning Man the way I felt about sports. It couldn't be! I love hippy gatherings! He loves sports! Oh no, I thought, we're doomed. So began months of testing this theory. Because I am un-trusting of our love or his commitment to me? No. Because I am a neurotic worrier. Thanks a lot, Mom.
Instances are as follows:
"Do you like poetry?"
"Yes, why do you ask," he turned, scanning my face and instantly was on to me. "Is this a test?"
"No! Don't be ridiculous. Can't I just ask you if you like poetry and if you like having it read to you?"
He smiled because he knows me really well. Of course it was a test. I am constantly testing him! Ever since the Burning Man conversation I haven't been able to stop ruminating over our differences.
Or how bout this one:
"Do you want to join the Peace Corps?"
"Umm, what all does it entail?"
"Going and helping a third-world country. Like building homes or teaching English as a second language. It's a two-year commitment and you get paid next to nothing."
"I don't know. Don't we need help over here too?"
"Oh. Yeah I don't know that I would want to join the Peace Corps."
Interesting, I noted.
"I must see live music. It is not just a like or a hobby; this is a part of my life that is very important to me."
"Like you and sports."
"Okay, so we'll go see live music then."
So when a couple of weeks ago we got in a nice doozy of a fight over a lot of silly nonsense really, I got exasperated and decided to dip my toes in the water of a big test. I got fed up and pointed out that we seem to have the same fight over and over again, which involves his propensity to plan and stick to a plan, and my propensity to want to muck up the plan with my spontaneity and free-spiritedness. I thought oh boy, he is just a planner that is who he is. And it's not that I am anti-planning, I actually get a small thrill planning certain things, but then for the most part, I just like to wing it. I really do. It gives me anxiety most times and I crave Xanax like a weary desert traveler craves water, but I am a masochist and it is how I operate/live. Is it necessary? Probably not. Could I change this about myself? Probably not.
So what did I do?
"If we really can't agree on this (this being planning vs. not planning) all the time, then maybe we shouldn't be dating!"
DC sort of looked like I threw cold water in his face. He quietly came up to me, eyebrows raised and said sternly,
"Don't say that."
I don't know what I expected but it wasn't that. I thought maybe he'd agree with me or the fight would get worse. I was prepared for it. Instead it got better and I got calmer. In fact it prompted the biggest epiphany of our relationship to date. After as we sat silently in the car together, still determined to seek out our Sunday adventure, I thought of one of my favorite romantic movie quotes in regards to love:
"I would rather fight with you than make love with anyone else."
I asked myself, is it okay that probability suggests DC and I will continue to have a fight over planning/not planning, early/on-time, winging it/not winging it for the course of every year that we continue to be together as he likes to be extremely early, he likes to plan the day, he likes to know what's going on, and I shrug my shoulders, I say we will figure it out, I think it's okay if we sleep a little longer or take a different route. And immediately and forcefully my mind said it's okay. If it really continues to be a fight, then it's a fight I don't mind having. A good argument never bothered me anyway. I contemplated being a lawyer briefly in the 8th grade after doing a mock trial over slavery. I, of course was on the side of good, obviously, I'm ever the vigilante.
Is there a point to all these interwoven tales? Yes. My epiphany in my relationship and the world of love. I always thought love meant all those checkpoints on all my lists adding up; and when the list was full of all the best things it would equal love and mean that I'd found the one. But checking qualities and virtues off a list is only part of it. Yes my have-to's like, he must love God and my family are non-negotiables but what's more is DC is someone I could weather lifes storms with. And that's what hit me in the car last Sunday after our fight. I don't want anybody else. And if it comes with fighting (squabbling is probably a more appropriate word) then I'm up for it. Because I feel that no matter what, I will fight with him and for him. And I know he has never been in short supply of fighting for me. And finally after years of falling in love easily and with a range of different men, I have finally found that this love feels significantly deeper, truer and a lot more permanent. It feels like a foundation for building a life and DC is the one I want to spend every single day of that life with.
But here we are currently. I am trying to write this blog about how much I love the man and I have my writing groove going, which means I listen to my awesome mellow writing jams and cannot be bothered. He came out of the bedroom to be near me on the couch, which I love, and watch sports, which I don't love, but they are on mute, so we're fine. Until the middle of Gregory Alan Isakov's, The Stable Song and he all of a sudden has to turn up hockey to hear a play and wants to fist pump with me. I mean, I am trying to wrap up loving, poetic thoughts and musings on love here and he just has to hear a play he just saw.
"You're making it really hard for me to write about how much I love you right now with you annoying me so much."
"Do you want me to go watch this at my office?"
"You love me."
"I should've written this blog yesterday when I liked you more."
And I finally have the perfect conclusion to this post. Love isn't perfect. That right there. That is love.