Today I saw the gravestone of two lovers, husband and wife.
My mind forged elegant memories of them. It conjured up their faces, growing worn with wrinkles and spots and all the marks of having been on the earth for a little longer than most, and showed me pictures of a young flaming love settling down into restful, warm, glowing embers.
Pictures of them loomed over me. The wind felt a little warmer as I envisioned them stumbling into one another, almost haphazardly, exchanging glances and smiles for the first time, feeling something blossom from nearly nowhere.
The wind nipped chills through me again once my mind bee-lined to the nights they lay awake, wondering whether or not they were meant for each other. They’d scream and yell and fight and come damn near close to walking out the door, but they always came to realize they were drawn to each other by a force they were always too small to understand, and that no matter what they’d stand by each other, because for some reason, some humans are drawn to each other with no rhyme or reason. Not for sake of habit, but for sake of love, and something much greater than what we are.
So I got to thinking about it.
I’m telling you, you won’t fall in love with the person you picture.
Once you meet the person you fall for, you’ll be shocked. They’ll be everything you ever wanted but never even knew.
I know you want it now. You want to feel love, to feel the warmth of someone else’s skin against yours. You want there to be someone there to tightly hug you when it all feels too heavy, or kiss your forehead before you go do something you’re really nervous to go do.
Before you do, there are some things you should know.
1. They most likely won’t be the person you pine over all your adolescent years. No, not even similar to that person. In your mind, you’ll picture someone who embodies the divinity of deities. You’ll see tall, dark, beautiful, funny, charming, talented, perfect, and bad-for-nothing. In your mind, you will be blinded by all of the things you were taught (whether by parents, friends, or media) were things to look for in the person you want to spend the rest of your life with.
And then you’ll meet them, and they will be charming because they’re not funny or talented. Or maybe they won’t be as divine as you envisioned. Maybe they’ll be so different, you find them beautiful. Maybe they won’t make you laugh all the time, and maybe they won’t be the “ideal candidate” as far as society’s standards go. I hope they aren’t – because that probably means you’ve found them.
You’ll probably picture someone who makes you laugh, and forget that once you meet them, they’ll make you cry, too, eventually (this is true, and it will always be true in matters of the heart. There is no way to escape it – you will cry).
You’ll envision late nights snacking and cuddling on the couch, dancing around when a slow song comes on, but you’ll forget that you’ll have late nights up screaming and yelling because your fear and sadness just can’t stop hiding behind the face of intense anger.
There will be many things you pictured, though, that will be there – and the important ones will shine through. They will support you. They will cradle your cheek. They will touch you gently to let you know they aren’t here to break you. They will pick you up, ease your pain and panic attacks, and help you to better yourself – not because they think you need to be more than you are, but because they want you to grow and thrive and be happy. This will make it all worthwhile.
2. There is a lot of emotional risk involved – and you need to accept this risk if you want to bear the fruits of all the rewards of human connection. This means you’ll have to trust the person you’re with – even if you have to force yourself to trust them – in the beginning. In matters of the heart, one should be trusted unless they give a reason not to be. This helps you be more vulnerable and open and loving – and can bring so much light and understanding to a relationship.
Love is the one thing that can turn dreams into nightmares. This is a risk you need to be willing to take when you step into the scene of true love. It’s worth the risk, really, because love can also take your worst nightmares and mold them into beautiful, all inclusive dreams – rose colored glasses and all.
3. Things you hate may turn into things you love, but don’t force it. You don’t have to do everything they do or everything they like. Girls, you don’t have to play Call of Duty every night or go to the gym. Guys, you don’t have to write a blog (heh) or do facials or arts and crafts all the time. Sure, you might want to all give that a try, but don’t beat yourself up too bad if you don’t like it and stop doing it. It’s good for you to have your own hobbies. If you identify everything with your significant other, you will lose sight of yourself – which is the very person they fell for in the first place. So don’t force it.
Some days, though, you might realize that you are in the passenger’s seat of a car, with people you don’t like, listening to music that burns your ears, and you will be genuinely happy because the person you love is sitting right there, and singing along. You’ll even learn to smile in situations you don’t like because you’ll be grateful for their presence in your life, or the fact that you get to come home to them. If all else fails, at least you have that one constant reassurance of warmth and hope – a familiar tribute to your dreams as a child.
4. You will become very familiar – you may even think sometimes that you feel like you’re just “roommates” or friends, but this is normal and it’s okay to not have the “spark” everyone talks about, in every moment of every day. You’ll picture lots of excitement, but you’ll forget that things and people become all “too” familiar – as if familiarity is a something to avoid. It isn’t. Eventually, as long as you let yourself be free while you need to be free, you will cherish a familiar little presence in your life, like I mentioned in number three. Just make sure you’ve been free before, and your familiarity and the familiarity of your loved one will be something you hold closely to you.
5. If it’s really the right person, it doesn’t matter what you go through – you will consider yourself lucky to be blessed with a role in their life. You will also fight and argue. That’s what humans do. If, at the end of the day, you can look yourself in the eye in the mirror and know, without words, that you want to spend the rest of your days with them, that’s when you know it’s real.
– Disclaimer: Notice I said it’s normal to “fight and argue,” not “abuse each other and call it healthy,” because that will never be okay, not from either side. If you are being abused, I don’t care if you love that person, you should probably leave them (unless you genuinely like abuse… but… uhh… why? What?)
6. It will start off with fire and passion, and will eventually simmer down into a constant, glowing warmth. That’s good, it’s not a curse and doesn’t mean it’s the end. Fires burn out quickly if you don’t feed them. Settled embers and hot coals, though, when tended to, maintain a warmth without all the extra energy (tending a fire can truly become exhausting). When you want a fire, just find a spark – and there you have it.
Buckle up, and settle in. You’re going to love this.