“I feel like I’ve met you before.”
The feelings I was experiencing were inconsistent with knowing someone for less than twenty-four hours. “You have,” he responded, “Don’t you remember? St. Andrew’s Church. 1942. You said you would write to me.” His eyes were twinkling and I felt a tiny panic inside. Was he serious? Did he believe in past lives? “And did I?” I asked, unsure how to proceed. I was the one generally given to flights of fancy in a conversation. “You did,” he said, hand reaching to cup my cheek. “And I wrote you back. I told you I would come for you, when it was over.” I found myself caught in his eyes and responding without thinking, “But you didn’t. You didn’t come home.” The twinkle dimmed as a tiny bit of sadness wound it’s way through them. “I didn’t. F—-ing Normandy. But you promised to wait for me and here you are.”
There I was.
It was at that moment I began to think about energy. Neither created nor destroyed, it is continually transformed. We know this as the first law of thermodynamics. We see it played out in the natural world all around us. I began to wonder if this is true with our souls. What if we are continually reborn, carrying tiny pieces of who we were into the future with us?
We’re so quick to laugh and say, “That’s not true. I know BECAUSE…” and then list all kinds of reasons — scientific and faith-based. I do this, laying out my millions of rules, proclaiming all of things I know to be true. I line them up in rows all around me, building walls and walls of lovely truth rules to make myself feel safe. The other day someone looked at me and gently said, “You know nothing.” It was quite freeing. There was no judgement or condescension in their words, but rather a challenge. Let go of your black and white, rule-oriented way of viewing the world, Melissa. Lean into the experience of it.
This isn’t a treatise on reincarnation. It isn’t a think piece on past lives. It’s a challenge to let go and live your life.
This week I fell in love.
I didn’t plan it. In fact, I want to say it screwed up some of my plans but the reality is…it didn’t. I think it rather solidified them. You don’t ever plan on falling in love. You may position yourself for it and prepare your heart and write a lot about it, but I don’t think you can ever quite plan for it. I love quickly. I love easily. I love often. I love many people.
But I don’t actually fall in love. I know I talk a lot about falling in love with humans. I say this phrase often, but I don’t ever truly allow myself the luxury of falling into romantic love. I’ve learned the high price of it. Instead I love people from the shoreline; standing on the edge, but never giving into it fully.
“Do you have a date tonight?” she asked as I dropped her off at the airport.
My mom was headed to Scottsdale to spend the rest of the week with my dad at their condo in sunny AZ. I looked down at my still pajama clad self. It was 3:30 in the afternoon and I looked like Death had forgotten it’s chic habit of dressing up to haunt the living. “I do. He mentioned something about meeting up for ice cream. But I should probably at least take a shower.” She laughed, “That’s probably a good idea.” I think we both knew I was getting a bit bored with dating. I hugged her and she headed off towards cacti and sunshine and I headed into evening traffic.
Traffic was atrocious and almost two and a half hours later, I made it back to the house. I text him to say, “How about a burger? Does 7:00 work for you?” He assured me that was fine and asked me not to get dolled up. “Be yourself. I don’t want some made-up version of you.” I laughed as I thought about the hardly noticeable difference between me with make-up and me without, but agreed and found myself choosing jeans for the date. If you know me, you know this simply isn’t done. Barely taking time to toss on some mascara, I headed out the door. I sent a picture to my group text with Rachel and Jonathan, “Will I sweep him off his feet?” Jonathan responded with the girl in the pink jumper emoji, “Uh, yeah. And if not, then you got pie.” There is always pie. And that night I was starving. The cheeseburger was again my main focus. Maybe that’s the trick…
You have a moment when you know you want to choose someone.
It’s rarely the first time you see them. It probably won’t be when they’re sitting across the table from you and you’re looking deep into the velvet of their brown eyes being eclipsed by the dark new moon of their pupil and your heart starts shaking in its boots. It will instead be exactly when you are not expecting it. It will probably be a third date. You will be rampaging about something inane, as I was.
“I want to tell you about the best piece of chocolate I have ever had,” we were eating the pieces we had just purchased and I began to elaborate. “Godiva had this strawberry truffle once upon a time. It had a white chocolate shell, which let me tell you how I feel about white chocolate…IT’S NOT CHOCOLATE,” I became very passionate, “It’s just colored wax! But, anyway, the center of this white chocolate held HEAVEN. It was this strawberry nougat or ganache type thing that was…orgasmic. I know no other word for it. This is inappropriately colorful but I have had no other fleshly experience which can COMPARE to the taste of the inside of this truffle. And then…THEY DISCONTINUED IT. HOW DO YOU FREAKING DISCONTINUE AN ORGASMIC TRUFFLE?”
His eyes were laughing but he looked at me so seriously, “Did you write a letter?”
And I was gone. I was laughing too but I was gone. I had to bite my tongue almost down the center to keep from saying, “Oh, my lord, I love you.” Because you CANNOT say, “I love you,” to someone you’ve been on three dates with. I know. I have a ton of rules. In fact, I gave up my rules for Lent. I told Ronne, “I think it will allow me to experience humans more fully and that’s what the Pope challenged us to do.” So, it’s not a rule for me not to say, “I love you,” to someone I’ve known for a short period of time, but it seems unwise. Emotions are fleeting. They can spring up and fade away just as fast.
Words have repercussions that echo out long after you speak them.
I didn’t say the words, but I looked into his laughing eyes and I thought, “I want to choose you.” Our lives are not the stories we read or the movies we watch play out on the screen. They are messy and so are the people. As he and I talked about what was unfolding between us, he looked at me and said, “It is good to know you exist. I am glad to know you are here in this world. Regardless of what happens, you can’t lose me.” And for once, my heart didn’t doubt the veracity of his words. I knew even if he was on the other side of the world, I would still feel him. In the novel Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte writes the words, “Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.”
I’m not sure what a soul would look like if we could see it. Part of me imagines it full of vivid colors, rippling with textures which would cause you to want to reach out and wrap yourself in it; crimson silk waving about in the cosmic winds. If you saw the two of us standing near one another, I think that crimson silk would would be wrapped about us. I told Micah the story,“The thing was, I wanted to choose him more than I’ve ever wanted to choose anyone, but I’ve worked so hard to get to where I am. And I still have some more work to do.
I want to choose him, but also, I need to keep choosing me.
DID I JUST LEVEL UP ON THERAPY?” I was laugh crying as I thought to myself, “Achievement Unlocked.”
Later this evening, right before posting, I tell Ronne the story and she sighs, smiles, and says, “I want to ask how he feels but it seems to discount the beauty of the love felt.” It doesn’t and I tell her that he feels the same way. He has plans to get his crap together and come for me. “Maybe it will happen and maybe it won’t,” I told her, “But I hope he works through everything for himself. He’s mostly there. But there are some journeys you need to take on your own.” I’m there too, journeying towards my own wholeness. It felt healthy and hard but strong to make this choice, as though I’ve finally learned how not to lose myself in someone, even if they are the someone. I tell her he (with a painful look on his face) encouraged me to keep dating. “Do you want to keep dating? I know you were wearying of it,” she says.
She is correct.
“Not really.” I tell her the truth because she already knows it. “It’s fun. Sometimes I really enjoy it but I have a lot of things I’m wanting to put time and energy into. And honestly after this, I really want to focus on getting myself together. Not for him, but for me. I feel like all the threads have been braided and I need to tighten them. Does that make sense?” It makes all the sense to her.
“It’s okay to date more than men,” she tells me, and I’m not sure where that paragraph is headed, “Date writing. Date friendships. Date adventure. Date yourself.” I send heart emojis. I understand this. “Yes,” I reply. “I am learning this. I have been dating food hardcore.” I tell her that there may be more dates in the future but marathon dating is over and right now I can’t imagine any dates at all.
The beauty of this moment hits me and instead of crying, I find that I am smiling. I’ve healed strong enough to let myself go and lean into this life. Rules be damned. River, I’m coming for you. Give me just a bit more time to get myself together. It won’t be long now.
[love is more thicker than forget]
ee cummingslove is more thicker than forgetmore thinner than recallmore seldom than a wave is wetmore frequent than to failit is most mad and moonlyand less it shall unbethan all the sea which onlyis deeper than the sealove is less always than to winless never than aliveless bigger than the least beginless littler than forgiveit is most sane and sunlyand more it cannot diethan all the sky which onlyis higher than the sky