“It was cold, but it got warm when you barely crossed my eye. And then you turned, put out your hand, and you asked me dance. I knew nothing of romance but it was love at second sight.”
-“The Gambler”, Fun.
When I fell in love with you, it wasn’t just a feeling. It was a choice.
I remember the day you said those three words to me. Standing on the sidewalk beside your car with a bag over my shoulder and planes roaring overhead. You turned me toward you, kissed me and said, “I love you.”
I said, “What?”
I know, I’m the epitome of awkward. But it wasn’t uncertainty that drew the word from my lips. The truth is in that moment, my heart stopped and I feared I’d imagined it. On the drive there you said your place could be my own. You invited me into your life. Now you invited me into your heart.
“Say that again,” I begged.
You wore this uncertain look on your face, probably wondering if you’d spoken too soon. But you manned up. You said it again. “I love you.”
I couldn’t believe it. It was real. “I love you too,” I said. I kissed you goodbye, then like a child I couldn’t stop smiling. I grinned my way through customs (not something I recommend to other travelers). I grinned while waiting for my plane, then on the plane itself. I couldn’t wipe the joy from my face. I smiled until it hurt, and then I continued, not caring if my face froze that way.
It’s the highest moment. The nirvana feeling the gift of love can lift us up to.
Not every day is nirvana. We know that. Last night was a reminder: we are people. Sometimes, some nights, we are wounded people. And there are times when our wounds show.
These are the moments when love truly counts. Not the highs fit for novels and movie scripts. Not the words that leave us feeling warm and fuzzy. Love counts when we stand beside the ones we’ve chosen, and instead of arming our words with anger, we reach out. Talk. Show support. Try to understand.
Last night, I knew something was there. Something unspoken stood between us. I didn’t understand. You didn’t explain. It lingered until I needed to know. My feelings were hurt. I mustered the courage to ask, and your first response only made me upset. I walked away. I had to. I didn’t want to say anything without thinking my words through first.
Then later I came back. I rested my cheek against your shoulder and asked again to talk. I looked up at you then, and the expression on your face broke my heart.
You don’t like to show vulnerability. Maybe it’s a man thing. Or maybe it’s just your thing. But I think you tried very hard to hide it. It wasn’t me, you said. Just old wounds you had to overcome. You shared some of your story and I could tell it wasn’t easy to do.
But I’m glad you did.
I’m glad I approached you the way I did.
I’m glad I didn’t let anger get the best of me when I thought I had reason to.
How often do we let our anger get the best of us and miss the things left underlying and unspoken? You said we would work through it together and I had no doubt in that. But I hated the pain I saw in your eyes, as well as the person who left those scars behind.
Then I started to think some more. I’m not a perfect person. I don’t like to look back and see how many times I’ve probably left scars in people’s lives. It unnerves me to think how many people we have wounded because of the things we’ve said, the things we did, and the mistakes we’ve made. The older I get, the more I realize why they gild the rule in gold. Treating others the way we want to be treated takes looking outside of ourselves and through their eyes, preventing pain before it starts.
Too often, it seems we put ourselves before others. We think about our own wants, our own “needs”, our own hurts, only to forget there are other hearts surrounding us. The consequences can echo into lives in ways we never think of. Not until someone else looks into the eyes of the soul you scratched and takes notice of the mark you left behind.
We coat the rule in gold to remind us of how it’s precious. The instructions are simple, but it takes an honest and humbling step outside of ourselves and taking a look through another person’s eyes.
The truth is that I never want to be the person to leave scars on you like that. I don’t want to leave scars on anyone though I know I have in the past. We all have, I think.
But I look back at that moment and many others with you. I see the reason we are where we are today. I still grin like an idiot when I think about you. I still feel peace when your arm wraps around me or when your fingers stroke my hand. But beyond the feelings remains a choice I made when I moved hundreds of miles and three states away to a new place where your face was the only one I knew.
I chose to love you.