Disclaimer: This is going to be cheesy. And cloyingly sweet. If you have diabetes, walk away now. Also, no apologies will be made for this. You've been warned. :)
My last relationship ended the first week of December 2011. That was a four-year disaster in the making, and I learned a lot about myself and what I wanted out of being with someone else in the span of those four years. They weren't easy lessons to learn, granted, and you never really stop learning about yourself and how you deal with others, especially when it comes to romance and intimacy. Those four years finally stripped away the rose-colored glasses and the wide-eyed romance, and allowed me to distill the essence of what I wanted out of a boyfriend-slash-partner-slash-whatever-PC-term-you-want-to-use.
Except that when I got back here and was starting to feel my way around romantic entanglements again, most of my friends kept on telling me that my standards were too high. After all, I wanted a man (obviously, not a boy) who was intelligent and funny, who knew his way in and out of books, who could carry a reasonably well-thought out conversation. Someone who was independent, who knew what he wanted out of life, and who didn't seem to mind that I do not look like someone who just walked out of a fashion magazine. (Well, unless that fashion magazine was catering exclusively to short, dumpy, bespectacled girls whose hair looks like it was perpetually electrocuted.) And apparently those standards were a bit too high for most of my friends. And to me, that seemed rather sad. After all, aren't you also underestimating your male colleagues, friends, boyfriends, relatives simply by saying that all they want are cardboard cutouts of someone who looked like Heart Evangelista? And also, it feels like I was being told that I was simply not up to the standards - whatever they are - of men, that I have to look a certain way and dress a certain way, that I shouldn't appear too intelligent or speak in fluent English because this is intimidating and scary. And I thought to myself, if that's the nature of the game, then I don't even want to play it.
And so I shelved all thoughts of future romance. Sure, there were times when I'd joke about looking for a date, or wondering out loud if I'd ever find someone good for me, but by and large, I was content. I have an awesome family, great sets of friends, a job that I loved, and my writing. While it's nowhere near perfect, I was at peace with what I had, what I still have.
And of course, much like Batman jumping out of the shadows of Gotham City, suddenly I found myself being swept off my feet and falling in like, then in love, with someone. And it's been good. It's been so, so good that it's almost criminal.
The thing is, it's not even just a spark of something, like an arc of energy jumping across your skin. It's like settling into a familiar old blanket that you used to own as a child and then re-discovering once more, tucked away in a secret corner of your room. It's like finally figuring out that difficult crossword puzzle, or that last Sudoku square, or that last Candy Crush level that stumped you for weeks on end. It's like finding an old book that you thought you've lost, and flipping through the pages and remembering the words that, once upon a time, made you see the world in a different light. And this is how this relationship feels like. It feels comfortable and quiet. It fits just right: no sharp edges or broken corners, no rough surfaces or scratchy bits. I remember a line from The Fault in Our Stars: "I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once."
One of the things I love about being with him is that it feels like I can breathe again. There's no need to keep this hidden. There's no need to be furtive and frightened and constantly paranoid. There's no need to be afraid that everything will disappear, like soap bubbles floating on an afternoon breeze. I am not some secret that he has to be ashamed about. In fact, we've received nothing but kindness and support and a great amount of teasing from friends and acquaintances. We have been almost-cloying on Facebook and Twitter and my brother and sister has been making fun of me for the past few weeks because of this. But honestly, I don't really care. It makes me happy that I can actually talk about this, that I can talk about us, and tell you how amazing and amusing and generous he is, how nerdy and funny he is, and how he's one hell of a writer, and that he loves me. He loves me!
And yes, obviously, I know that no relationship is perfect, and that no relationship is smooth sailing all the way. And I know that "forever" is an abstract concept that cannot translate directly into the world we live in today, because everything ends eventually. But I'd like this to last. So universe, if you're listening to me, pay attention: I want this to last. This is a love I want to last. Got it?