Matt has a funny relationship with this blog. Or at least I think he does. On second thought, maybe “funny” isn’t the right word. Maybe it’s wonderful. As you may have guessed by now, or as you may remember, his presence on this site is almost completely limited to the text. That’s not because he’s hideously ugly, or because he’s extremely shy. He’s rather attractive (says one rather smitten and therefore biased woman) and he is definitely not shy. But he does like to keep his private life private, which could create a conflict of interest between the two of us. I write about him, and us, quite frequently. And Matt, gracious and generous man that he is, lets me. Not once has he howled in protest that I shared too much or offered too much of his private life for public consumption.
As I’m sure is quite obvious by now, I like writing about him and us. I learn a lot from him, and I like to share what I’m learning with you. By writing about our romance, I get to savor those moments again, and it keeps the memories fresh for me. I realize that time changes our memories, and a written account is flawed in its own way too, but now, more than three years after we started seeing each other, it’s such a pleasure for me to be able to read what I wrote about us in the earlier days of our relationship. Time changes our memories, but more importantly, it changes us. Having some sense of what we were in the past is a marvelous thing. Some couples take lots of photos of their adventures together; I try to write them down so that I can remember us, so that I can love who we were and who we are becoming.
Things are a bit different for us now that we live within driving distance. When I was in graduate school, it was always plane tickets and flight itineraries, with time breathing down our necks as our visit gently became past tense. Those were exciting days: those new romance days; those giddy, I-can’t-wait-to-see-him days. I loved those days. Those were the falling-in-love days. We had a different rhythm then. Usually, Matt would visit me, flying in on a Friday and leaving on Sunday. We cooked more of our meals at home; our visits were humbler affairs, once he/I/we had arrived at our destination. We would often pop out for lunch or tea, we liked to walk along Lake Michigan into downtown Evanston, and we’d usually go shopping at Whole Foods for wine and dinner provisions. Matt would offer to carry the groceries, which was a sweetly chivalrous act, and he never complained about my lack of a car (or lack of money either). Sometimes we’d ride the train together back to my apartment after our little downtown excursion. I remember there was one time, early in our dating relationship, when he was visiting me during the bitter cold days after Christmas. I had no internet at home—such a Luddite I was back then!—and he needed to check his e-mail. We boarded a train to go to a cafe downtown, and I sat in the window seat. He sat down next to me, very close to me, on the attached two-person seats, and blamed it on his bulky bag, heavy with a laptop computer. It was a silly, sweet moment, sitting so snugly between him and the window. It was the sort of moment that feels just right in a new romance, a sign of affection and intimacy and playfulness.
Part of me misses those old days. Things felt less certain between us, but maybe that uncertainty made our time together that much more exciting. I knew I liked him, I knew I liked him A LOT, but I didn’t know what that meant. So many relationships are built on the premise of commitment, and he’d already said to me, earnestly, “I am committed to you.” I believed him. I even knew, deep down, that I was falling for him before we started dating. So when we actually did start dating, I didn’t know what to do with myself because all the pieces had fallen into place, and that was, oddly enough, confusing. I think it was confusing because we think of dating as a time when we figure out how we feel about that person—what our sense of commitment and compatibility feels like. If those things don’t need to be deciphered, then where’s the dating puzzle? Maybe that’s just it: Matt came into my life as a self-explaining puzzle: “Here I am! Now let me tell you how I operate.” So many men are mysterious creatures that require frequent conversations over wine with girlfriends to figure them out. Matt was blissfully easy to love and to understand.
Perhaps he was a little too easy, which is why it felt uncertain in the first place. Love can’t really be this easy, can it?
Actually, yes, it can, with the right person and if you are ready for it.
Stay tuned for Part Two of this rambling essay!