The first first love was when I was in eighth grade. You know the kind. The kind that makes you flush purple whenever you get a glance from them. The kind of Cady Heron, would be grateful for him to even ask me what day of the week it is infatuation. I asked him to dance at one of the fall mixers. He said no. The group of popular girls he was with laughed at me. I cried in my mom’s car on the way home, not even bothering to attach my seat belt.
The second first love was high school. We did a play together. He was everything I thought I wanted. One day he was asking people for gum and when I told him I had some, he hugged me. I carried that hug like a Holy Grail. I never asked for anything more. That was enough.
My third first love was in college. I saw him in the library and something shifted. I wanted to be around him all the time. Nothing made sense. I analyzed everything he said to me. We never went further than small hugs and high fives. That was enough.
Paralyzing, wretched fear. I was so afraid of doing anything, of getting hurt, that I worshipped from afar. I refused to see them as human, because that meant I would have to see myself as one too. I was too flawed, too weird, too damaged. Loving from a safe distance was enough.
Four years ago I decided that I had had enough of “safe” love, but I forgot to put my own boundaries in place. I threw myself into a love that was so all-consuming, so engulfing, that I completely forgot to see myself inside of it. When it fell apart, I fell apart too, because I hadn’t thought of what I needed to be within that love. In the need to be with this other person, I forgot to be my own. In the urge to take care of the one I desperately loved, I forgot to take care of myself. In the ashes, I realized I had a lot of work to do.
So this isn’t actually about the first loves. This is about the last love. This is about the love that will carry me through to the end of my days.
I feel that promises and vows shouldn’t be saved for white dresses and flower boughs. Promises should be made now. Promises I intend to keep. I love myself enough now to keep these promises.
I cannot promise I will be neat and tidy. Sometimes it will appear as if my laundry pile will become sentient. But I will try. I will try every day.
I can’t promise an even keel. I will be angry, emotional, sad, happy, doubled over in laughter and breaking down into your arms in a flood of tears. I promise to trust you with these emotions, because I know you are fearless enough to handle it. In return, I ask that you are brave enough to do the same for me.
I can’t promise I will be a flaw free partner, who is perfectly put together mentally and physically. I can promise that my flaws, the kind that are damaging and traumatic, are constantly being addressed and worked on with the help of professionals. If you are going through the same fears and doubts and trauma, I trust that you will love me and the possibility of us to work just as hard on your own mental health, and dismantle the patterns that destroy strong foundations.
I can’t promise that my love will be easy. I can promise to try to liberate you through my love. Love, ultimately, should set us free.
I can’t promise to be a sideline participant in the grand performance of life, watching you as you make your way through the world, holding up a pom-pom and passively smiling. I can’t promise I will be the Good Wife. I will promise to be an active partner in every decision we make. Even the difficult ones. Even the heartbreaking ones. I ask that you do the same for me. We are in this together.
I can’t promise I will be Giada de Laurentiis, barefoot and big-chested, whipping up ravioli that would make the Pope weep. I will promise that the food we eat will be accompanied by laughter, conversation, and the happiness we find in each others’ company.
I cannot promise I will be a perfect Mom who makes all of the right decisions at PTO meetings. But our children will never know greater love than the love we give them, and I will try my hardest to be the best Mom I can be.
I cannot, and will not, promise it will be easy. I’m still trying to make my way in the world. I can’t promise we’ll have a lot of money, or that my career will be airtight. But I can promise laughter, and hard work, and hand holding, and embraces that go to the soul of you. I can promise inside jokes and gentle words and furious passion. I can promise myself, just as I am.
I will fail you, over and over again. And you will fail me. We’re human. We will pick ourselves back up and try again and again. We will choose each other, every day, forever, because we are better with each other.
Love is the only thing that keeps us from the wolves.
These are the promises I forgot to make, the oaths I thought didn’t need to be sworn. These are the vows I make for myself. Because right now, I have me.
I don’t give a shit about what sports teams you like, what movies you prefer, whether or not you’re a fan of musical theater, or if you’re gluten free. I don’t care if you don’t like Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings, or if you drink red wine. I don’t care if you have a million friends you’ve known since kindergarten or one good friend that’s seen you through it all. Do you care about things that make your heart beat faster? Do you show passion for life, and everything that it offers? Will you be brave enough to say “yes”? To life, to me, to love? Do you love me so much that you can’t be without me? Do I offer the same for you? That, in the end, is all that matters.
You’re out there, somewhere. I won’t say you’re waiting for me, because my last love won’t be passive. You’ll be living, actively and hungrily, and we’ll collide like two stars.
Collide with me. Change the world with me. Love and live with me.
It’s not much to ask.