This time last year, I was traveling to Africa to climb Kilimanjaro. It was my third international trip of 2013, so the wonder was a bit lost during the trip preparations. It took actually getting to the airport and getting a bag checked before I felt true excitement surrounding the trip. Before my mom and I sat down for a cup of coffee together before I entered security, I felt a sadness for leaving town on Dave’s very birthday. Even on the plane, I wrote, “This is my last big trip for a while. I want so much to be at home and to spend as much time with Dave as possible.” Now, a year later, I’m home with Dave. I got what I wanted, but I was wrong about one thing. Everything that’s happened with and around Dave during the last year has been the greatest trip I’ve ever taken.
We are two people who lived largely single lives before we had each other. I was used to keeping a calendar that I packed full months in advance, and he was used to going more with the flow, knowing what he wanted to get done but leaving room for the unexpected. And somehow we’ve come together and are finding a place where who I am meets who he is and we both maintain our sense of self but find joy in the togetherness.
It’s not always easy. The last five months have involved moments of “What the hell have I done?” on both of our parts. I tell him to make himself at home in my space but then get worked up about holes in the kitchen cabinets where he’s decided to hang measuring cups. He helps with my laundry only to find out that I hate having anyone mess with my dirty clothes, especially my smelly, dirty workout clothes. I’m sure he was expecting something more like a “thank you” rather than a “don’t ever do that again.” The ugly truth is that he got a little bit of both. We even had one disagreement in which I actually said the equivalent of, “If you don’t know what you did wrong, then I’m not going to tell you.” Very mature, I know. For a full day, I retreated into my head until my anger calmed enough to talk rationally. These are all my issues, right? Wrong. Because we are together, they’ve become Dave’s as well.
When I don’t want to throw him out on his ass for making the mistake of simply being in my space, I want to wrap my arms around him and make him promise to never ever let me go.
I’m not all bad. Dave would say that I’m sweet to him, that I make him feel loved, and that he feels believed in and supported in a way that he’s never experienced before. I know he’d say those things because he says them to me. And then I have to remind him and myself that I’m sweet when I’m not ungrateful for his kindness, that I make him feel loved when I’m not pouting in my corner about missing my once empty house, and that he feels believed in and supported when I think to tell him that he should be free to tell me what he needs from me.
An incredibly beautiful thing about Dave is that he forgives so much. He overlooks so many shortcomings. He is present again and again to deal with whatever, to address whatever, and to make right whatever went wrong, even if what went wrong was in no way (or at least no rational way) his doing.
Over dinner last night, we were talking about the best part of the last five months. For me, the best part has been that it hasn’t been easy. Because it hasn’t been easy, it’s felt real. We’ve worked hard to be together and to love each other well. And even with the moments where one of us acted or reacted less than ideally, we are choosing daily to be together. We are having dinners and playing games and watching movies and reading books and doing housework and going for walks together. We are figuring each other out and working through our issues. I’m seeing in him – and I hope he’s seeing in me – a willingness to work and an unwillingness to quit.
I’m so lucky to have spent the last year getting to know this man. I’m so grateful that my friends in Iowa suggested that we connect and that he chose to move to Texas for me. And I’m humbled that he chooses day after day to love me and to let me love him.
At some point, perhaps soon, I’ll be ready to plan another international adventure, but this domestic one is proving quite full and wonderful. I’m patting myself on the back for selecting my companion incredibly well.