We fell in love quickly and without hesitation. A strange deviation for me. I had never been a person of rash and flippant decision when it came to romance. I had always been calculated, distant, and unavailable, not out of any sort of strategy, but out of fear. Fear kept me from a lot of things, but perhaps the most poignant was that it kept me from love and opening myself to another person. It kept me from something fundamental: intimate human connection.
It was surprising how quickly I fell in love with my now-husband. There was no room for calculation or distance or unavailability with him. He commanded my attention in a way that no one else had. There was no overthinking necessary, no waiting by the phone, no lingering text messages. We were both in it, fully, without even needing to say anything, not that we could. He didn’t speak English. There was nothing to do but feel each other for the truth, to express that love without words. This gave great power to my intuition. I had to trust my own feelings, instead of words that are easy to say, but never easy to act upon. I felt the strength of his love in the gentle way we’d walk through the streets of Paris, him never letting a moment pass where he did not have his hand in mine or his arm around my shoulders. It was not controlling or possessive, the way he touched me. It was intimate. It was love.
It was a little over four years ago that I met my husband in Paris on what I had thought was going to be an ordinary day. I’ve told this story at least a hundred times, but each time, I get a little chill up and down my skin, as I think about the miraculous timing that pulled both of us together. Me, an American in Paris out for a stroll around Notre Dame Cathedral. And him, a Tunisian in Paris aimlessly wandering the streets of the fifth arrondissement. There were a thousand reasons why this unlikely romance should not have lasted, but one important reason why it did: love.
The other day, I happened upon this quote by Emery Allen: “Do you think the universe fights for souls to be together? Some things are too strange and strong to be coincidences.” I could have searched for hundreds of ways to explain the love I have with my husband, but no words more poetically sum it up than these, which, as a writer, is an infuriating thing to admit.
I may never understand why—of all the precious souls in this world—we found each other, amidst unlikely circumstances and having been born ocean’s apart. It sounds like a fairytale and for a while it felt like one. But, big love has a way of being big in other ways as well. There have been fights, break-ups, doubts, fears, and insecurities that have come blaring out, even with this love, because of this love. Souls may fight to be together, but fear will fight for them to be apart. Perhaps it’s the battle that defines a heart.