Three Hundred & Sixty-Five.

Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes
Five hundred twenty five thousand moments so dear
Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year?
“Seasons Of Love” – Rent

One year. Twelve months. Fifty-two weeks. Three hundred and sixty five days… And I’m still as twitterpated as the day we met.

Oh, sure, the novelty has worn off. We don’t text all day, every day. We don’t shower each other in compliments or “I miss you”s after an hour apart. Most of the time, our “romantic” date night consists of picking up the week’s new comics and watching Star Wars in our underwear for the eleven billionth time. I no longer try to avoid offending you when we disagree. Hell, I’m quite happy to call you an asshole on a regular basis.

But you know what? You ARE an asshole. And I love you anyway.

The past year has been full of growth for the two of us, both individually and as a couple. You’ve held my hand through some pretty major career changes, and I’ve picked up pieces I don’t think you even realised were broken. I don’t want to say it’s been easy – we’ve fought, we’ve upset each other, we’ve struggled with the distance every step of the way – but it’s never been difficult. I’ve always known that whatever happened, we’d face it together. Since day one, it’s felt like it has always been, and always will be, the two of us taking on the world.

I laugh to think that just a year ago, I had no idea how my life would change. How a shoe store on a Friday afternoon could be the catalyst to the most incredible love I’ve ever known. How one date could leave my head spinning, my heart racing, and my lips knowing that I wanted you to be my last first kiss.

Through thick and thin, we’ve weathered the storm. Angry, sad, scared, and happy (so happy!) – you have seen me through it all. I couldn’t ask for a more amazing person to share my life with. Jeff Gordon, you are my superhero, my wonderwall, my big picture. I am so blessed to love you and to be loved by you. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for us.

Love always,
T

The Way You Love Me

The way you love me is understated. It’s silent, rarely spoken, never hidden but likewise never flaunted. It’s buying sriracha and not gagging when I liberally douse everything I eat with it, and only laughing a little when I eat too much and my stomach hurts. It’s playfully teasing me about my veganism but sending back my veggie burger with cheese when I’m too shy to bug the waiter.

The way you love me is under the blankets, my cold feet pressed up against whatever warm body part I can find. You’ve never complained about it – not once, not even when I wore ridiculously cute shoes that were incredibly inappropriate for the weather and lamented my frozen toes for hours afterward. It’s pushing me to the far side of the bed even though we both know we’ll wake up pressed together with limbs entangled.

The way you love me is a quick fix of my skirt’s hem when I didn’t even notice it was tucked. It’s your eyes scanning me over, drinking me in, and the appreciative “you look great” that I would doubt coming from anyone other than you. It’s taking so damn long in the shower that I eventually give up and just hop in with you. Once I do, it’s in your expression watching me scrub myself – such a mundane action, but your shy half-smile makes me feel like I am the most beautiful woman you’ve ever seen.

The way you love me is a lazy Saturday with no kids and no pants and a marathon of classic movies we’ve never seen. Steve Martin is running around as The Jerk and your head is on my chest and everything in the world seems to stand still. The movie ends and I notice how regular and even your breathing is, and I feel so blessed to have this moment – this little flash of perfection.

The way you love me isn’t loud. It isn’t flashy and those who don’t know you would completely miss its existence. But to me, the shine in your eyes is as unmistakable as the sun; it’s always there, even when I’m not looking for it.

Time Stood Still

TRIGGER WARNING: DOMESTIC & SEXUAL VIOLENCE, RAPE

 

May 13, 2005
On a dingy bathroom floor in a house full of addicts, she waited. The test sat on the counter, scarce inches away, yet she couldn’t look. One… two… three minutes passed. It was now or never. Her hands shaking, she picked up her future, wrapped in a disguise of plastic and paper and urine. Positive. She closed her eyes, unsure if she was relieved or disappointed. Time stood still.

January 27, 2006
The hospital was crowded, as if everyone in a fifty mile radius had decided to give birth right then and there. A blur of lights and sleep and strange beeps and frantic calls and pain, oh the pain! She couldn’t quite remember how or why she had ended up in the operating room or why they wouldn’t let her hold her daughter right away or anything beyond the overwhelming agony that every second away from the child caused. A bundle was placed in her arms – The bluest eyes she’d ever seen, the blackest hair, the most perfect little mouth. The world melted away and she finally knew the meaning of her life.

July 15, 2006
She could smell the whiskey on his breath before he entered the room. Her heart beat faster as she clutched her baby closer. One foot out the window, easy does it, twist and turn and grab the ledge … – his hand wrapped around hers and in a single breath she was on the bedroom floor again. The baby bawled in his arms as he hurled accusation after accusation, stepping more firmly on her throat with every uttered syllable. Her life flashed before her eyes and in the moment before the stars became darkness, time stood still.

June 1, 2007
He stumbled in at 9am, drunk, though god knows he’d gone to work last night. She lay awake – eyes closed, breathing regular – hoping he’d think she was still asleep. Their daughter stirred; a heavenly coo from the cradle next to their bed. She jumped up to attend before his clumsy hands could reach the tiny being, but not before a slurred “Stunned cunt, let me sleep” escaped his lips as he collapsed into the pillows. When the darkness overcame him, she methodically packed her belongings and drove to the new apartment across town. Furniture would have to wait, but in that moment, her life started over.

December 17, 2011
The night was young, the music loud, the tequila flowing freely. Across the table, he winked and smiled and she had never felt so sexy. The bar closed, the after party started, and before she knew it, 3am had arrived and it was only the two of them awake. He kissed her, she kissed back, he reached up her skirt. She said no. He stopped. He tried again. The no became more urgent. He conceded and allowed her to drift into unconsciousness. She awoke long enough to kick him and roll over as he peeled her panties off, then returned to the nothingness she had been roused from. Seconds… minutes… ages later, her mind snapped out of the fog, feeling him inside her, momentum building, grunts of pleasure escaping his lips. Her body froze. Words caught in her throat. As he emptied himself into her, time stood still.

July 19, 2013
Eight hours of magic was coming to a close. She thought it was going well, but one could never quite tell with a first date. They placed a bet on the last bowling match – if he won, she had to say yes to a second date. She lost, albeit unintentionally, though she was far from disappointed at the prospect of more time in his company. He walked her to her car; she thanked him for a wonderful day. The sun was setting just behind him, a brilliant cascade of light gleaming over his left shoulder. He hugged her and she could feel the restless energy stirring within him. In a moment of impulsive desire, she pressed her lips to his and held on tightly as the rest of the world became irrelevant.

November 8, 2013
They lay in bed, her head on his chest, his arms protectively cocooning her. He kissed her goodnight, and just as he was dozing off, a timid whisper asked if he was still awake. Now alert, he asked her why. Seconds passed as she took a calming breath and responded with some off-pitch statement about needing to tell him something. With a hint of suspicion, he probed her intentions. Her heart beat faster as she attempted to gather her courage. “I love you,” she breathed, barely audible, as she buried her face in his neck. He gently lifted her chin, gazing into her eyes through the dark. “I love you,” he responded, kissing her tenderly as time stood still.

Missed Opportunities

The first time I thought I might love you, it was August. We’d driven two hours to the racetrack, only to see a “Closed due to rain” sign on the gate. I laughed when you replaced it with a sign blaming the closure on the drivers’ diarrhea. On the way home, you held my hand and sang “I’m On Fire” along with Springsteen. You dozed off, but you wouldn’t let go of my hand. Every time I looked over at you, I couldn’t help thinking that you were absolutely, breathtakingly perfect. But it was too soon, so I swallowed my words and kept my eyes on the road.

A few days later, whilst laying on my bed, you told me about growing up without a mom, how your step-mom was never very nice to you, how your relationship with your dad is good, “good but complicated.” You seemed almost ashamed of your vulnerability. Instead of meeting my eyes, you buried your face in the curve of my neck. I could feel the pain in your words, and all I wanted was to hold you, to make it okay, to take your heart in my hands and fill it up with so much love that you wouldn’t even notice its scars. I listened and stroked your hair; I told you I was sorry and that I would always be there to listen. You were so vulnerable that the words caught in my throat, so I kissed you and tried not to cry.

Weeks passed. One night, cuddled up in bed, I asked if you were sleepy. You told me you were, but asked what was on my mind. With a single deep breath for courage, I poured out all the hurt and pain and trauma from years past. I saw the sadness in your eyes – not because you didn’t want to know, but because it hurt you to know what I had been through. I buried my face in your chest and sobbed, and you didn’t flinch; You hugged me closer and told me you were proud of me for speaking up. I felt the words bubbling up, but it was late and I was scared, so I thanked you and went to sleep.

The moments started coming quicker: The night you told me that I am the only girl you have trusted not to cheat. The day at the park when you referred to us as a family. Thanksgiving Day, when my mother picked a fight and you snuck into the bathroom to tell me it would be okay. The day you found your ex’s belongings in a long-forgotten storage closet and happily threw every last one of them in the trash. The first time you scored a goal and flashed a brilliant smile up at me in the stands. The reasons started to become smaller: Your smile. The way your eyes light up at any mention of Star Wars. How you grill every waiter at every restaurant about what your vegan girlfriend can eat. The gigantic piles of kindling you cut me with no complaint. The way you – a man who doesn’t do PDA – always seem to end up with your arm around me as we walk. How you turn up the heat for me, even though you’re always too warm. The little texts you send to say you miss me when you’re gaming with the boys. Just every little thing you do and say and are. But the moment was never right, so I kept my mouth shut.

The moment I knew unequivocally that I love you was almost laughably mundane. It was a Saturday afternoon, and you were napping . I lay next to you, lost in a book, when I briefly glanced over. I can’t even explain why, but you took my breath away so completely. It was like I was seeing you for the first time, whilst feeling like I’d known you all my life. I wanted to wake you with a kiss, snuggle into the little cocoon your arms always seem to make, and whisper in your ear that I love you beyond measure. But I’m still afraid that you don’t love me back, so I turned the page and decided I’ll wait.

Well, That Was Terrifying

I’ve done a lot of scary things in the past week:

– talked to my doctor about my anxiety
– made an appointment to see a counselor
– told Jedi when I thought he wasn’t being fair to me

and, today, I quit my job. Well, gave my notice. My last day is the 15th.

And you know what? The first three things turned out alright.

Fingers crossed that the last one will, too.

The Adventures of Anxiety Girl

It was an ordinary morning, around 6am. Anxiety Girl rolled over, shut off her alarm, and closed her eyes to wait for Jedi’s ‘Good morning’ text, just like every other morning.

DING! “Good morning and such!” Jedi greeted her.

“What in the hell does that mean?” she wondered aloud. “He must be getting bored of me. He always calls me babe, or beautiful, or some sort of term of endearment, and he didn’t! I wonder what I could have done to make him stop caring for me so quickly?”

  *  *  *  *  * 

Upon arriving at work, Anxiety Girl received an email requiring her prescence at a training seminar. Her fellow invitees were prestigious co-workers, those who had worked years and years and climbed their way up the ladder to the upper echelon of regional management.

“There must be some mistake. I shouldn’t be invited to this seminar!” Anxiety Girl cried. “Why would they invite me? I’m nothing. I’m going to get there and have everyone laugh and wonder why I was invited because I am clearly so far beneath all these other attendees. I can’t go, I simply can’t!”

  *  *  *  *  * 

11am rolled around and Anxiety Girl hadn’t yet heard back from Jedi, almost five hours after texting him back. Despite knowing how hectic his career can be, Anxiety Girl was perturbed.

“He hates me!” she thought. “It can’t be that he’s busy working… no… he’s definitely ignoring me. I even asked a question to make sure he responded, and he didn’t. I remember when we used to text all day, every day. I miss that. He clearly doesn’t care as much as he used to. Should I even bother driving all the way down to see him tonight? He must still be in love with his ex. I should just give up. I’m not worthy.”

  *  *  *  *  * 

Anxiety Girl’s boss stopped by her desk that afternoon. “I need to see you in my office,” he said. “It’s about that seminar.”

Anxiety Girl’s mind raced. “He’s going to tell me I’m not capable enough to go. I’m a failure. He’s going to fire me because I’m not productive enough. I knew this would happen. How am I going to pay my mortgage? Or afford gas to drive Padawan to school? Looking for a job is terrifying! I’m not qualified to do anything but minimum wage labour – I just lucked out getting a decent-paying administrative job. How am I going to live on $10/hr and no benefits???”

  *  *  *  *  * 

That evening, Anxiety Girl took Padawan to a fundraiser/movie night at her prestigious private school. She parked her ten year old Honda Civic next to the brand new Porche SUV, and waved at a classmate’s mother, who looked away without recognition.

“I don’t know why I try being friendly,” she muttered. “Nobody likes me anyway. They know we don’t belong here. We’re not like them. We’re not people who can afford this school – we’re the poor family who scrimps and saves to send Padawan here, and they all know it. They hate me, and, by extension, hate Padawan. Poor child. It’s not her fault that her mother is such a disappointment. I’m sure that if I wasn’t such a sad-sack, broke-ass, single mom that they would be more welcoming. Why do I even bother attending these things?”

  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  * 

This is an example of my daily existence, and, frankly, it fucking sucks. I’m tired of being sad. I’m tired of feeling unworthy. I’m tired of worrying and stressing and obsessing about everything. So I’m going to do it. I’ve got a doctor’s appointment a week from today and I am going to get some help because I am so done with living like this.

I’m terrified that it’ll be brushed off as nothing. I’m terrified that I’ll be mocked. I’m terrified that I’ll need to be medicated. But more than all that, I am terrified that I will spend the rest of my life feeling like this and will never know how to be truly happy and relaxed.

Here’s to the first step and a new beginning.

Falling

Falling in love is late nights and early morning. It’s long drives and sleepy eyes and going to work after three hours of sleep and hoping the boss doesn’t figure out you’re napping on company time. It’s that same experience, week after week, because you just can’t get enough time with him. Falling in love is a surge of joy when you realize that it’s his turn to make the ridiculous commute, followed by a twinge of guilt for reveling in that extra hour of sleep while he’s fighting traffic at 4am.

Falling in love is introducing him to your favourite TV show. It’s watching his reaction and hoping he finds it just as hilarious as you do, because being with someone who doesn’t find Chris O’Dowd endearing just isn’t an option. It’s listening to his favourite songs and trying to get a glimpse of what they say about him, even though, most of the time, they just sound good. It’s looking for pieces of who he is in everything he adores. Falling in love is realizing that a person’s preferences don’t usually tell you much about them at all.

Falling in love is creeping his ex on Facebook with your best friends and making them tell you how much prettier and smarter and less crazy you are. It’s pretending you don’t have any idea when he references the shitty things she did, even though you both know that social media has given you more detail than you could ever want. It’s secretly being thrilled when his friends “like” his newly announced relationship with you and hoping that his ex girlfriend sees it, even though she kind of terrifies you. Falling in love is being terrified to meet his daughter, his dad, and his friends but doing it anyway because you know it makes him happy.

Falling in love is getting lost in the moment and just looking at one another. It’s discovering the nuances and quirks of his soul while simultaneously memorizing every last freckle on his back. It’s cuddling close to him and falling asleep to the sound of his heartbeat. It’s softly kissing his cheek when he drifts off before you do and thanking the Universe for leading you to someone who makes your soul sing the way only he can.

Falling in love is waking up in the middle of the night and feeling his breath on the back of your neck and realizing that there is nothing more you want in the world than for this moment to be infinite.  It’s realizing that no matter how much you try to fight it, you’ve already fallen.