not in our stars, but in ourselves
If you’ll pardon me for a moment, I’m gonna get a little bit sappy.
I was heading home from the gym on a warm September evening last year. In the east, the full supermoon was rising. The lowering sun cast its blazing, rose-gold light from the west. I didn’t know why, but I felt an unmistakable sense that something was about to happen. It had been a hellish nearly-two years, but I was finally feeling like myself; I finally felt like I had my own two feet under me; and in those few minutes, looking to the east and waiting for the train, I felt – almost physically, as if a gust of wind were hitting my body – that something big was going to change in my life.
After the usual nightmarishly long train ride home, I settled in for a typical night: trawling the internet and half-paying attention to the TV. I made the usual rounds: Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, and Missed Connections. I find the latter fascinating (even though the only times there have ever been Missed Connections about me, they were incredibly creepy and/or sad), and check in on them every day. For whatever reason – loneliness? boredom? the winds of change? – on that night, I decided to have a glance at the straight-up personal ads. Fully expecting to find nothing but desperate, horny men offering unsolicited dick pics, I was surprised to read one earnest, hopeful voice among the din. It struck a chord with me, and I responded there and then. He replied to me, I replied back to him, and so on until I admitted that I needed to get to sleep. He wrote back to me later that night (technically morning), so I had his words to look forward to when I awoke. We spent all of the following day writing back and forth, back and forth – and then, it transpired that he lived very close to where I work. We agreed to meet up for a drink on September 9th, 2014.
We met at Eastern Standard. It was pretty instantaneous.
Sure, we made our way through some amiable small talk, and gradually moved to more personal topics and ideas, but the spark was there at first sight. I forget exactly how it happened, but I think during a brief pause in the conversation, I put my hand on his – to signal that he could – and then he leaned in and kissed me, very gently. Somehow or other, Eastern Standard has not yet placed a plaque at that corner of the bar where time briefly stood still and the universe came together in a glorious, silent explosion – but that’s okay. Don’t hold it against them.
We decided to go for a walk down Commonwealth Avenue, onto the mall, where we quit talking for a little while. By then, it was dark, and we realized we were both hungry for something other than each other (of course, we were still hungry for that, too), so we wandered over to Newbury Street, to a cute little tapas restaurant. (I forget the name. I was in a bit of a haze, and he was the only thing I could really see at the time. You know how it goes.) Afterwards, we said some very reluctant good nights – but agreed that we’d need to see each other again, as soon as mutually convenient.
The rest, as they say, etc.
No, no. I want to talk about the rest. I don’t mean to make myself sound like some sort of tortured, lonely genius – because believe you me, I’m not – but I have often felt imperfectly understood, even by people who loved me and whom I loved in return. I have often felt that there was just something about me that, when most people saw it or stumbled upon it or thought about it, rendered me unlovable. I’ve broken things off before it could get to that point, and I’ve let it get to that point, with disastrous consequences. But after two years of hell, I finally stopped thinking I was some doomed tragic romance heroine. I had plenty to give, and I would give it to someone who wanted it. Not only has Matt proven that he wants all that I have to give, he’s given me all of himself as well. He’s made it abundantly clear that he understands me, and – amazingly enough – likes me anyway. That is, obviously, a two-way street. I’ve been in love before, but I’ve never been this happy. It’s twofold: I’m finally happy with myself, and he goes out of his way to make me happy as well.
We live together now, and we’re finding domestic bliss to be pretty goddamn great. He cooks, I clean – although sometimes he’s very naughty, and cleans up after himself before I can get to it. What a brat. I’ve been in charge of most of the interior design (such as it is), although he’s always welcome to express his opinion if and when he has one (usually, his opinion is, “yeah, that’s fine,” because boys are cute and funny and have no problem with you infusing your home with ocean colors). We split costs pretty much down the middle, so we both feel like we’re equal partners. A king and a queen, overseeing the same beautiful domain.
Nice work if you can get it.
Because I know he’ll read this at some point, I will announce to him and the rest of the internet: I love you, Matt. (Well, he knows that, but hush.) You’re the best thing that ever happened to me, and I’m the luckiest person I know, thanks to you. This has been a wonderful, miraculous year – and there are many, many more to come.
I will close, as usual, with my favorite passage from anything I’ve ever encountered:
Whenever I start thinking of my love for a person, I am in the habit of immediately drawing radii from my love – from my heart, from the tender nucleus of a personal matter – to monstrously remote points of the universe. Something impels me to measure the consciousness of my love against such unimaginable and incalculable things as the behavior of nebulae (whose very remoteness seems a form of insanity), the dreadful pitfalls of eternity, the unknowledgeable beyond the unknown, the helplessness, the cold, the sickening involutions and interpenetrations of space and time. It is a pernicious habit, but I can do nothing about it. It can be compared to the uncontrollable flick of an insomniac’s tongue checking a jagged tooth in the night of his mouth and bruising itself in doing so but still persevering. I have known people who, upon accidentally touching something – a doorpost, a wall – had to go through a certain very rapid and systematic sequence of manual contacts with various surfaces in the room before returning to a balanced existence. It cannot be helped; I must know where I stand, where you and my son stand. When that slow-motion, silent explosion of love takes place in me, unfolding its melting fringes and overwhelming me with the sense of something much vaster, much more enduring and powerful than the accumulation of matter or energy in any imaginable cosmos, then my mind cannot but pinch itself to see if it is really awake. I have to make a rapid inventory of the universe, just as a man in a dream tries to condone the absurdity of his position by making sure he is dreaming. I have to have all space and all time participate in my emotion, in my mortal love, so that the edge of its mortality is taken off, thus helping me to fight the utter degradation, ridicule, and horror of having developed an infinity of sensation and thought within a finite existence.
Within this brief moment of light between two all-consuming darknesses, I am delighted to share an infinity of sensation and thought with you, my love.