The man I am with does not see me as the container I come in. He does not look at me from the outside in or see only the soft little folds in my skin. He does not see me as the vehicle that carries my double D breasts or the head upon which my curly hair rests. He does not see me as just the green eyes in my face or define me by my lack of that inner thigh space. He does not see me as my image in the eyes of passers-by or as my short-legged shadow or my cottage-cheese thigh. He does not see my body as “me.”
He sees me as a soul, a human mind, who needs a body to hold her to the earth. He sees me as ideas that need a head to fill and an eternity that needs some time to kill, and he sees me not as a way but as a will. He sees me as feelings that occupy my physical space and as expressions that manifest themselves in my face. He sees me as a partner not a prize, and when he looks at me we see what lies behind our eyes. He sees me as limitless, unrestricted by my size. He sees me as myself, as the words I speak and the thoughts I think, as the dreams I chase, as my hopes, and my happiness, and as the fears I face.
I do not see the man I am with as the container he comes in. He is not made of his soft brown hair or the red speckles in his beard. I don’t see him as his big fists and giant sneakers. I do not look at him and see only his wide chest or the vast expanse of his cozy body. I don’t see him as the marks in his stretchy skin or as his soup-bowl-sized knee-caps or as the beautiful golden flecks in his tiny eyes. I do not confuse his body for his person.
I see him as an endless supply of compassion and as the music that his voice makes. I see him as warmth in winter and as inspiration and as the definition of unconditional love. I see him as acceptance, as hope, as faith. I see him as his brilliant ideas and his wit and his wild sense of adventure. I see him as an endless sunrise. I see him as his soul. I do not see the man I’m with as the big, vast man that people see when they question with their eyes as we walk by; I see him as the bigger heart that forgives me – and them. I see him as the kind, smart, wonderful man everyone told me I should find…before they specified that none of that counts unless he’s beautiful.
I see the man I’m with as the way he cares for others, as the way he laughs at the innocence of children and small animals and grimaces at liars and cheaters and the way he gathers Christmas presents for the homeless and the way he always leaves me his cardigan when he travels. I see the man I’m with as my renewed faith in humanity, as the lessons I have learned in love. I see him as the overcoming of obstacles, as the soft water tension that supports our tiny boat in an endless sea. I see him as the unbreakable chain on our bike, as the strong film that protects the inside of a fragile egg, as fireworks and high fives and the fizz of a celebratory champagne bottle. I see him as the heartstrings that pull tight to wrap my hand up in his.
I see him as the encouragement he gives me and the love that he puts out into the world. I do not see his body as the barrier between my heart and his or as the moat that blocks the rest of the world out of the palace in the middle. I see the man I am with as the love I share with him and as the strength we give each other. I see him as the goodness that he brings out in me. I see him as his character, as the man he is, as the image his heart and soul portray. I see him now as everything the world would love about him if only he were wrapped up in a smooth set of six-pack abs. I see the man I am with in the same way that he sees me.
Perhaps that is because he and I are the exception, and not the rule, the content rather than the cover, the flawed rather than the flawless.
Fortunately for me, I learned to love in spite of flaws and in spite of the world’s bad examples, and that has taught me that my love is not about what other people see.
All that matters is the way I see him and the way that he sees me.