As I patiently stand next to you in Home Depot, watching as your bold brown eyes salivate at those little yellow labels, a smile sketches its way onto my face. I am no longer surprised by these spontaneous smirks. They’ve been frequently appearing since we met on that humid September night. However, this one validates what I have known for quite some time.
I struggle to pinpoint when I first started to know. I don’t believe it was the night we met. Although you quickly piqued my interest as you strolled by, flaunting orange shorts and a fitted sleeveless muscle shirt, I knew nothing about you. You sat directly in my line of sight; I gave you a head nod and allowed flirtation to make its way from my eyes to yours. You missed the first cue to approach me, so I made my second request a little more obvious. You accepted my invitation, wandered into my vicinity, and introduced me to a cute southern accent, a charming soothing smile, and a nervous energy and said just enough to maintain my interest.
Maybe I knew after our first kiss? We spent part of the night walking along the strip, searching for a pizza location that didn’t exist. Soon thereafter, you, always the gentleman, walked me to my car. I then nervously asked for permission to do what I’d been longing for since Top Golf. When our lips finally met, I didn’t want them to separate. But they did—we needed to save kisses for our future. Now, our kisses birth kisses, ensuring we will never run out of them.
Perhaps it all began when we hiked in 40 degree weather? I dragged you out of bed earlier than you should have been on a Sunday morning. And although you didn’t understand the point of hiking, you still showed up. Not many have. You did.
Conceivably, it began during one of those two-hour drives. The ones where our fingers interlocked as we debated politics, asked each other questions about life and family, and you, displaying your knack for perfectly timed charm, would utter with such tenderness and care, “Babe, whatever you want—you’re the boss.” But I’m no boss. I’m just your willing copilot, ready to conquer all obstacles and enjoy every adventure beside you.
Or maybe I knew when I got sick? That day you drove to my place after you finished up with work, brought me strawberries, and kept me warm from night until morning while I coughed, sneezed, and slept on your sculpted chest, secured by your muscular sturdy arms.
Could it have possibly started during the dinner I was filled with frustration? You sat across from me, worry filling the spaces between your irises and eyelids, while displaying the cutest elementary chopsticks technique I had ever seen. I finally broke my silence by reemphasizing the importance and need for communication. You apologized, held me tight as if you wouldn’t let go (I didn’t want you to), and gave me some succulent kisses from your deep reservoir of kisses. Most would have branded my concern as insignificant. Not you. You listened, apologized, and then worked with me to find a solution. On that night, the internal flames of passion intensified from a quiet backyard bonfire into a raging forest fire.
Maybe it began when I realized how much you inspired me to be smarter, see things from more perspectives, and to simply be better.
Or maybe I knew the moment my futuristic visions of us morphed itself from make believe fairytale fantasies, into an exhilarating loop of all the ways those fantasies are more than realistic possibilities. They are the way I want things to be.
Or perhaps it began because in your presence, I feel like I am enough. You don’t ridicule me for all the things I am not. You champion me for all that I am. With you, I am not too sensitive, I am not too complex, and I am not not black enough. With you, I am safe. Safe enough to simply be me.
Honestly, I know deep within my core that it didn’t begin with a single moment. It occurred because of many great moments that spanned the course of months. And during that time, you have revealed that you are the 1776 Continental dollar I’ve been blogging about—something not easily found, something too old school for my peers to appreciate, something not shiny or flashy, yet extremely valuable.
You are reliable, consistent, and trustworthy. You are that grounded, practical, and steady force needed to balance this idealistic, floating social butterfly.
And although everything between us starts within the mind, I am overjoyed that you’ve snuggled your way into my heart.
This thing is growing. It ignites with each phone call, intensifies every minute we spend together, increases when our eyes spontaneously meet, and escalates every instance your actions validate your words.
Now, here we are, standing in a Home Depot. I stare at you while you feed your adorable addiction. As I do so, I know I have to get something off my chest. Modern dating rules say I shouldn’t. I’m supposed to maintain mystery. I’m not supposed to let you know how I truly feel. The rule creators say I must let you carry the burden of vulnerability. Well, I’ve never been one to follow many rules, and don’t do well with authority.
So here it goes, through the best way I know how, by emotions pouring out of my fingertips, taking the shape of beautiful words. Words that I have carefully selected for you, the guy I first met in orange shorts. You, the guy who is proving through actions, not words, that I can trust again. That it is okay for me to begin the process of quieting the insecurities that tell me to assume the worst and that I can begin putting my mind at ease from all the exhaustion it has endured.
And I know you’re going to say that you’re not special and haven’t done anything worthy of this essay, but that’s a lie. You are special, even if only to me. I am sure, because I am not writing from the emotions that have become synonymous with my art—anger, regret, uncertainty, disappointment, hurt, or yearning. No. I am finally writing while brimming with that emotion called love.
Simply because I love you.