It’s my fear that this is all going to sound either flowery, dark, melodramatic, obvious, ridiculous, or just plain dumb. The thing is, I can’t shake it. I’ve felt twinges before but never like this. It’s terrifying, being in love.
Dylan and I have logged hours staring at each other. It sounds nuts and probably pretty teenager to say it, but it’s true. We talk about our futures as individuals and together, intentions and plans, how we have deeply affected one another in such a relatively short amount of time and how we seem to really only note that short amount of time through the eyes of others because we view it as not much of a factor at all. Every day is literally better than the one before it, even if on nights like tonight, one of us is having a bad day and the time together is spent comforting and reassuring the other.
After I left him, I took the train to the stop where I would normally grab a bus home but instead chose to walk (since Chicago had a high of 54 today and they’re calling for inches of snow tomorrow, of course). As I walked I started to think about this new sense of urgency, intention, timelines… and suddenly a deep fear took hold of the nerves in my lungs and stomach. If I hadn’t quit, I’d have reached for a Camel right then and there, and had a seat on the St. James church’s planter boxes to ponder it all.
What if something horrible happens to him? What if when he’s out on his motorcycle, someone forgets her indicator and turns in front of him? What if he takes too big a bite of something and chokes when he’s all alone? What if he’s driving between two semis when the one behind’s brakes go out and they come to a red light or hill? What if he gets food poisoning? Or tetanus? Or has some form of creeping cancer neither of us knows about? I’m not kidding, this is how my mind works.
Apparently there’s a name for it: Intrusive Thoughts, supposedly it’s perfectly normal and everyone has them. New mothers have flashes of drowning their babies during bath time. Nurses envision unplugging patients while alone with them in their rooms. Couples dizzy in love picture the other on fire without an extinguisher handy. They say it’s normal, but it doesn’t feel normal. It’s not anxiety, it doesn’t keep me from going about my day and in fact it doesn’t even stop me in my tracks as it happens. I just find myself suddenly thinking that maybe I shouldn’t be riding my scooter every chance I get, or that I need to look both ways to cross the street even more than I already do. I feel the overwhelming urge to preserve and protect my life (and his) at every turn. Those thoughts to me, seem a reminder of mortality and fragility; they make me think twice about risk and reward. I weigh my choices more now than I ever have before, I actually have something to live for and lose, something that I can’t bear to even consider losing.
Ok, I confess that it was me who had the bad day. Someone close to me deeply disappointed me and hurt me with her words. I sat across from Dylan and recounted the situation. I cried. In public. Twice. Being the amazing man that he is with little regard for opinion and an acute sense of need, he fetched some tissues for me and then made me stand up to hug him. In public. So I cried three times, actually.
There is the kind of love that is situational: like a look that sets your pants on fire, or a shared laugh where you think it simply cannot get any better in that moment. Or the kind of making out that scrambles your brain for the rest of the day and the days following, or a gift that seemed so incredibly thoughtful you’d swear someone had a direct line straight into the corners of your heart’s mind. Then there is the kind that’s not afraid to be ugly. Not Sunday morning after a bender ugly, but ugly vulnerable. Sad, wildly angry, maybe irrational and sensitive… the kind that you don’t want anyone to see, let alone someone you’re still getting pretty for. But Dylan is all of these things and so, so much more than even those. And he’s not afraid of any of it. In fact, he runs towards it, tissues in hand. He’s unflappable. He somehow marches forward with my hand in his, into the crazy unknown with a confidence and surefootedness usually reserved for the brilliant, deluded, or completely insane except in his case, he’s lived and experienced so it’s tempered with wisdom and discernment. I can’t help but follow, he clearly knows where he’s going, even if I picture a cliff, jagged rocks all the way down, and spikes at the bottom. But him? He sees only clouds, pillows, and s’mores with bacon waiting for us in the end.