It happened for the first time when I wasn’t paying attention. There wasn’t any monumental moment where I knew. One day I just woke up and it was there: “Oh, I’m in love with you.” And that was that.
It’s funny because I always expected a Hollywood love story where sparks fly and tensions run deep. But in reality we started with shared cups of coffee and lazy conversations and long drives in the car. There were no fireworks, there were no loud professions of love. It was just there, like an object in a room — it, me, and you.
Loving you became a routine: wake up, think of you. Go to work, think of you. Get home, think of you. Go to bed, think of you. Think of you. Think of you. Think of you. As reflexive as breathing, but as maddening as an itch at the back of my neck. I couldn’t ignore it, and I certainly couldn’t escape it. And in reality, I wouldn’t want to even if I could.
It’s weird how you can meld with one person and yet stay an individual being. How we became a package but remained two distinctive items. We became a world inside a universe of friends and family and work and play, a solid rock foundation in a constantly changing galaxy. I loved that about us — we were “us”, not “me and you”.
Until, suddenly, we were “me and you”.
I learned quickly that life moves fast and even planets fall apart and sometimes we change with the galaxy, too. Routines don’t last forever and even good habits kick the bucket and we have to learn to rebuild our lives anew. For me, that meant building one without you.
And so we moved on. Wake up, think of the news. Go to work, think of my job. Get home, think of my family. Go to bed, think of you. You were still there, but you weren’t everywhere. I forced myself to fill my time with other things until you eventually faded away.
But falling in love with you the second time was different. This time, I was paying attention. This time, you made me. You were no longer a routine, no longer a thing that “just happened”. You were a force to be reckoned with, a hurricane after a drought. You were planets colliding and worlds upending and fireworks, so many fireworks. You weren’t an itch on the back of my neck, you weren’t a Hollywood ending.
I had learned there was a life outside of you, that there were routines that didn’t involve you, that there were worlds where you didn’t exist at all. Loving each other no longer felt reflexive. And in the end, it didn’t matter to me.
You were home.