It always starts with a smile—one exchanged harmlessly as they walk past each other in a crowded space, or over drinks with friends. One that happens by accident, as their bodies bump into one another, or as they giggle at the same joke. That smile creeps across her lips with surprise, strangely warming her from the inside out. It feels good.
Then things begins slowly, they always do.
More smiles, more laughs, numbers exchanged with nervous glances and sweaty palms. The first date comes and she’s reluctant. She’s not sure if she’s ready, if the moment feels right, if this man is the one she should be spending her time with. She worries that she’ll end up getting hurt, or worse, that she’ll hurt him. See, she’s been comfortable on her own—it’s safe, no casualties that way.
But she gives in.
She goes. She laughs. She forgets how it feels to dance alone and falls into the rhythm of his hips.
She lets him buy her a drink, lets him put his hand on her shoulder, on the small of her back. She lets him whisper words that make her feel noticed, cared for, appreciated, loved. He says he likes her, that he has for quite a while.
And she glows.
She lets herself feel—feel happy, feel light, feel free.
And that feeling lasts all night and even into the morning when she rolls over in her own bed, waking to a sweet text message from him, bringing the promise of more laughs, more dates, more falling.
But she’s still unsure.
She’s tentative about falling, nervous about giving her heart away. A heart that’s been so well taken care of, so protected and safe.
So he pulls back. She pushes against the part of her that screams, go with him, and sticks to being rational. She tells herself she’s better on her own, stronger, more powerful that way.
But she knows that’s a lie.
Because even at her most independent, she can still love and be loved.
This girl is fiercely independent. She loves to choose her own path, to do things on her own, to wear the badge of solo strength with pride. And she’s afraid that in loving, she’ll have to give up that part of herself.
But she won’t.
And she doesn’t.
She returns his messages, she falls into his arms, she lets him take her places and show her parts of himself that he’s hidden from the rest of the world. She takes him to her favorite spots in town, opens herself little by little. They talk about their lives, their dreams, their favorite memories.
She learns that you don’t have to be alone to be safe; you can be safe in the arms of someone you love, too.
And so she falls.
It’s messy. It’s flip-floppy. Some days she’s scared she’ll lose herself completely and other days she discovers new parts of herself in his lips, his eyes, his gentle hands.
This is how love is, she thinks. A discovery, a journey, a learning of who you are when your soul is joined with another.
And she decides it feels good.