A friend recently wondered out loud what it’s like to be in love. This is my attempt at a response. Whether you’ve been in love before, are in love now, or simply dreamed of that seemingly inexplicable feeling – this is for you.
He laughs and it’s your favorite sound. This bubbly yet deep-set rumbling, it fascinates and elates and cracks you up and sucks you in all at once. It’s like fireworks erupting straight from the soul, or an earthquake, or that sound of wheels rolling and wind rushing when your plane lands and you are finally home.
You make her laugh. How or why, it makes no sense. She finds you funny and quippy and you throw out all the zingers that borderline grandpa-joke status. She finds you hilarious in ways no one else has, you find her hilarious in all those silly yet brilliant ways you always wished were more prominent in the world.
It’s everything: the way he dresses, the cuffs of his pants, the fact that he has a way chicer shoe collection than you probably ever will. She has taste and an unquestionably unique sense of style and she doesn’t even realize how cool she really is. The music he listens to, the whiskey he sips (always sips), the door he never once fails to open for you. How smart she is, even when she is at a loss for words or thinks she doesn’t make sense. The hand that reaches for yours whether you’re walking down the hall or up the ally, the way you fit under his arm. The way she brews your coffee in the morning without thinking twice. The color of his hair. The shape of her back. The way he dances with you like a five-year-old in the living room.
He loves you and his love for you is as unconditional as yours is for him; it’s in love and love at the same time. It doesn’t matter what kind of crappy day you’ve had or if you’re feeling inexplicably emo because maybe you heard a song with minor chords or maybe you started to think about mortality or maybe it’s just a gloomy-insides kind of day. It’s not only the mistakes and ugly moments, it’s a romantic yet unequivocally grounded love that accepts and adores the boring moments, the human moments, the nondescript and unfunny, the not-so-wise and tripped-over sentences and the things that don’t make sense. The sitting on the couch with take-out and the falling asleep in the passenger seat on those late drives home. It’s simple love yet so complex, it’s tough love and frustration when sometimes you’re asked questions you’re not prepared to answer. It’s things not getting under your skin too deep because you know they’re not intentional; it’s wanting to have a discussion, not go to battle. It’s loving it all.
In-love, for real in-love, means that all the others (or just life experience) and their lessons make sense now and you’re grateful for each one of them. The person your younger codependent incarnation figured you’d meet again, the one who broke your heart, the one who shied away from your sometimes over-the-top personality quirks. The one who talked to you like you were a prop, the what-the-hell-is-going-on-here one who made you feel special and charmed your socks off (not literally, hopefully, socks are precious). The long stretches of singledom that never really felt like singledom, because you always were and always will be whole. But in-love is the realization that you’re now, inexplicably, a different kind of…complete.
In-love is not looking to be saved, not looking to be fulfilled, not needing. But that’s exactly what ends up happening: you’re thrown a rope, your heart is filled full, you are a more authentic and self-actualized person on your own simply because that other person exists. You want them with twelve different kinds of want all at the same time in even the smallest capacity, whether it’s a comforting lingering thought or a stolen-away evening or an isolated long weekend. They become a part of you; his pain is your pain, her bucket list your own. You have not another half but a teamed soul. They are your muse and the fire inside you; your goals and dreams become brighter and not in some fairytale way – they’re discussed more thoroughly, planned more thoughtfully, executed more authentically.
You shine brighter because of them, and not just because of their insight or affirmations or even the example they set as they live their own miraculous life. It’s because of their touch, their voice, their way of making you feel like you are the person you know you want to be. The way they look at you in the morning, with sleep in your eyes and heaviness in your lashes, and Darth Vader pajama pants and the slightly creaky body of early hours, like you can do anything in the world.
Your plane has landed and you are finally home.