I was six, the first time I fell in love. Not much is better than being in love. His name was Ricky, and he lived next door. We hid behind the bushes to share secrets and imagined futures. His was to become a fireman who only helped people and didn’t hurt them.
His dad was a fireman.
It must’ve been 5th grade when I loved Phil a little bit. He lived neaby, and sat next to me in homeroom. We’d lie our heads on our desks and scratch patterns on the underneath side to see if we could decipher what we scrawled.
Later, he fell in love with a girl named Susannah, who, in 2nd grade, asked everybody to sign her cast except me. I don’t think it was on purpose, but it hurt.
I loved my second Ricky a little later, or during Phil. It’s hard to say, as we’d lived next door to one another ever since my family’d moved away from the first Ricky.
The excitement of a new person who sees you. The memory of them brings forgotten loves.
The excitement of a new person that shows you their real self. Of never forgetting them, but moving on from them.
But oh, in the moment of falling in love. Of being in love.
Waiting for a call.
Who doesn’t love being in love?
And then there’s the other side of it. The walking away from the one who has passion unlike anybody you’ve known. Except, that passion leaks everywhere.
Into fights. Into worry.
Into him saying he’d rather keep you on a shelf for now, to ummm, what, later? Consume?
He never said why he needed to put you on a shelf. You walked away.
The love you find when you’re ready, once again.
There’s not much better than being in love, but the following 10 things come close, at least for me.
Flying solo, across the country to a new, unimagined life with nobody to land on other than your best friend, who is a dog.
Being willing to live a new life is enough. Having the coolest dog you’ve ever known to come home to is even better.
Building new roots, new friends, with the help of your best friend, who was so much more than a dog. Finding a home where you cook Thanksgiving Dinner for friends that have never had one before because they didn’t grow up in the US.
Playing Taboo, because that’s what you do after Thanksgiving dinner.
Finding a new thanks in Thanksgiving.
Telling everybody you know to set you up on dates. Filling out a profile online and hitting “publish.”
Deleting it, and writing a new one. Leaving it up after getting out of bed at 3am to take it down.
“Who meets people on the internet? Crazy people, that’s who.” you think.
Decide you’re safe enough. Crazy enough.
Meet amazing people you’ll hold in your memories and heart until your last breath.
You’re hopeful. Hopeful feels good. A bit like being in love.
Meeting the one you’ll marry.
Calling home, to tell your family you’re pretty sure you’re making a baby and a life with this person.
Later, finding out he sent a photo to his family, saying the same.
Getting pregnant, and staying that way. Not telling anybody until you thought it was safe.
Realizing life and pregnancy are never-ever safe, because life is cruel that way, but beautiful all the same.
Watching your husband run to the other side of the room to see your newborn in the hospital.
Moments before, he’d almost missed his birth.
Meeting your baby for the first time. Holding him.
Bearing witness to your baby’s first smile, and all the ones that follow and many that are to come.
Realizing your life means more now than it ever has.
Having “mom” as an identity. Quitting your job – which you thought was everything – when your baby is just four days old. Seeing life in a way you’ve never before.
Believing in stardust. The future.
Seeing connections to people all over the planet.
Being you for a moment.
Seeing yourself. Your body.
Your you-ness, aside from their their-nesses.
Realizing that being in love with your partner and your child is everything, but that it’s nothing if you don’t love you.
Getting that you’ve found a way to love yourself, with wrinkles, a too-jiggly belly, and some past regrets.
Forgiving yourself for everything real and imagined.
Seeing you as you, all on your own.
Realizing that being in love is pretty perfect, and that the love of a child is unparalleled, but that you matter too.
That you love you.
Refraining from making some humorous but true-ish self-deprecating comment.
Just, love you.
That’s better than being in love, and makes the love you do have all that much sweeter.
Happy upcoming Valentines Day, all.
*ummm, I didn’t mean “love yourself” like that, perv.**
**although, loving yourself like that is totally fine. The whole hair on palms thing was made up by mean meanies.***
***I’m getting all Clark-like with all these asterisks.
This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post, in its new format, where it’s mostly the same, but different. Join my new co-host Kenya and I. We love to read your takes on these!