The first time I saw the ocean, I ran and jumped straight into it.
As a kid, it doesn’t matter if the water is murky or that there are signs posted everywhere telling you not to jump in or that you don’t actually know how to stay afloat in water. You don’t even consider doing a feet first jump; that’s too cautious. You do the running start-diving form-headfirst-into-the-water kind of jump. No hesitations. No fear. No caution.
When you fall in love for the first time, it’s like that first run into the water.
You don’t think about yourself and how fragile you are, and sometimes, you hand your heart over to people who will drop it and cut it up only to hand it back to you like they just tried some food that they didn’t like the taste of. But there are too many posts about this kind of love, too many posts about the initial reckless abandon and excitement and pain and jadedness that comes along with having your heartbroken for the first time.
Falling in love the second time is completely different. It’s glancing at the sign where it says how deep it is. It’s dipping your toe in to decide whether the temperature is right. It’s the kind of jump where you edge to the platform and peer over. There is no spontaneity of that first love, or maybe there is but in comparison, it’s very lacking.
Because you see, the first jump has already conditioned you for overthinking.
You worry about the depth because you know that could hurt you. You worry about the temperature because you don’t want the ice to seep into your soul again. You worry about the turbidity because you don’t want to cut yourself on something; you already have too many wounds that are healing. With first loves, you’re high on possibilities and the idealistic slideshow playing in your head. But the second time around is more real.
It’s knowing that this love could be taken from you, that it could slip through your hands as if you’re grasping at sand. But that is why there is a unique beauty to second loves, yet not enough credit given to them. You’re even more scared than the first time, but there are even more chances to be proven wrong. Second loves come with the realization that you are always going to be okay, that even when you thought you wouldn’t be able to move on, here you are doing just that. Here you are breathing, being, and most importantly living on without a person who left you in shambles.
I had two choices when I met a green-eyed boy with tattoo sleeves. I could either fall back into routine and make all the mistakes I made the first time I fell in love or I could change and try approaching a relationship a different way. Don’t get me wrong; I was very much peering over the edge and checking the water temperature every ten seconds. But there was something different this time around. There was no rush, no fear, no desperation that comes with wanting someone so badly and possibly not having it work out.
I’m not trying to hold onto this relationship; I’m actually trying to hold onto myself while I’m in it.
My friend recently got into a relationship that makes her ridiculously happy. But she also said to me that if that boy ever leaves her, she’ll be okay. Why? She rock climbs. She’s getting her PhD. She’s going to Costa Rica this summer. She volunteers on Skid Row. She’s a badass friend and an overall badass person. She is so much more than her new boyfriend. She is living her life already; he is just a brilliant addition. When she said to me that she would be okay, I thought to myself, Of course you would be. You are the sun. Second loves make us realize just that: we are the sun and the moon and everything in between.
We are enough on our own.
I wouldn’t say I’m falling in love again; that is very far off I think. But this time around, I’m letting things happen without letting the dark colors of my past bleed into the present. I’m staring straight into someone’s bright green eyes and smiling back. I’m laughing into someone’s neck while I feel him shaking from his own laugh. I’m accepting the endless compliments from him as I should have been doing all along. I’m letting someone cook me dinner and bring me flowers and make me feel like love doesn’t have to be a one time deal. It has to be a choice that you make, and you can choose it however many times you like. You’re on this Earth to live, and part of living is falling in love with people. We are here to always be running full force, ready to dive, ready to let the chill of the water sink in, ready to hurt from the belly flop, ready to go at everything with all of our hearts.
We are here to do that because we are here to learn that we will always recover as long as we have ourselves.
Amongst the depth and the chill and the murkiness of the water, there is time to adjust, there is time to fight. The second time around is that gift and that chance to do so. There aren’t very many guarantees in life but a second time will always come because it’s dependent on us. It is our choice and our choice alone, and it is us saying yes to life, to moving on, and to moving forward.