I asked if you were real.
You told me, “Baby, I’m more real than those politicians’ commitments at COP 26.” (Points for making a climate joke, by the way.) I chuckled, although deep down I wondered if you did mean I’m basically self-deceiving—the same way everyone remains calm as we’re on track to a 2.5 degrees Celsius warming.
Risen or not, you remind me of a calm ocean—steady, never in a rush. (Except maybe for that time you were almost late to go to the office.) You always take your time: to listen to my stories, to respond to my philosophical riddles, to wait for me before dinner. Next to you, I might even believe that there’s an everflowing well of seconds, minutes, or even days.
Perhaps this is why with you I’m capable of letting things unravel, instead of frantically taking control like my brain normally instructs me to. With you, it feels like the universe has set its course, and the only thing left to do is let ourselves walk down its path. Nothing feels forced—we didn’t and never have any agenda: I just was, you simply were, and we just be. The salted pretzel grew organically into a blob of something else, too whole to be contained by names or labels.
I hope you know I wasn’t looking for a cure. Yes, you found me when I was badly hurting (not talking about the time we were in an actual accident), but I have learned my lesson that the only way to heal is inward—sitting down with the pain, embracing it, maybe even licking it, letting it leave slowly when it’s ready. You’re not some magic herb that will wash my trauma away—you’re the superfood with rare nutrients that I didn’t know I needed.
I am worried about inadvertently projecting my ideals on you, instead of seeing you for who you really are. I have been guilty of doing the former multiple times before—my record was over 2,000 days straight. But how can I not, when you keep saying the right things, at every single turn?
The way you reached for my waist like you’ve done it a thousand times before.
The way you nuzzled my neck as though it breathes the air that keeps you alive.
The way you lifted and pressed my body to yours like it’s their natural state of being.
For a brief second, you touched my soul, despite it being deeply buried under layers of trust issues and insecurities. We may not always speak each other’s language, but words often fail people anyway, and are dwarfed at the presence of inexplicable bonds.
Your stories brighten even my darkest days—a lotus flourishing after the storm, the mandarin fish showing itself out even though it wasn’t sunset, the fish that camouflages as pretty corals yet turns out to be deadly, how green turtles were sacrificed in Balinese rituals, the sunflowers that die slowly right after they bloomed, the Jewish tradition of betrothals and weddings, the dolphins in captive who… had to unlearn about not having to please anyone and live for themselves.
You make me laugh, excited, and smarter—not always in that sequence, but sometimes all at one go.
My favorite part about you, which I ironically forgot for a second, is how you remember the little details. How I couldn’t stomach beer, my birthday after I mentioned it one time, a random thing I told you I was gonna do a couple of weeks before (muay thai), something you read in my manuscript dozens of pages ago, the exact outfit I wore the first time we met, the list goes on. I also enjoy all the arbitrary references to specific Big Bang Theory episodes (plus that time we played the pilot and first episodes simultaneously to compare how they’re different).
You said you will never take me for granted, but I heard that before, and this time around I’ll just nod and smile, too trained and intuited to impose expectations.
Besides, we’re just being.