Just another cliche love story.
I met the love of my life under the most cliche of circumstances: When I was least expecting it, during which time I had no business looking. My personal life was an absolute mess, tangled even further by a professional breakup that was so complicated and painful I didn’t know if I’d ever fully recover. To say that I was lost is an understatement. I was drowning in a pool of regret, blame, and self-pity. It was quite gross, actually, and yet somehow I managed to attract my opposite, better half to date- and no, he’s not one of those dudes who chronically seeks out fixer-uppers.
Enter the ray of sunshine to my thunder cloud- hallelujah!
It’s been exactly three years since my life suddenly and drastically changed course. Meeting Eric was a paradigm shifter; everything as I knew it, experienced it, and expected it flew out the fucking window with vacuum force.
The first month we dated, I was experiencing these unbecoming fits of denial- how could such a nice man be… seemingly in love with me on impact?! Who the hell am I besides a vile, undeserving creature, to attract a man like this into my sticky, weird web? I would even ask him, flirting with the opportunity to scare him off- what does a guy like you see in a girl like me? The answer was always the same. “You’re smart, funny, beautiful and I can be myself around you. I feel loved. What else is there?” He’d say it with such natural ease and kindness that I never felt dumb, or ashamed for asking. He was simply telling the truth, and the moment I started believing him is when I truly started living.
I was 31 years old, driving through Florida Canyon in San Diego. I’ve always had a terrible habit of running through my playbook of follies when I drive, instead of paying attention to the road, like you’re supposed to. Trust me: guilting and driving (while steering a vehicle with your knee and spite eating a burger with your free hand as the other one clutches a chocolate shake) is far more dangerous than texting and driving!
Why does he love me? What is wrong with him? Why doesn’t he see my ugly side? I was yelling this at myself like a lunatic. I remember the exact point in the road where I crossed over a border of sorts, and all of a sudden, switched off my self-destructive chant like it was a bad signal on the radio. My hate speech turned into a soothing tune: I don’t have to feel bad about being happy. I can accept this. I will accept this. It’s ALL good- literally! And I justified all of these foreign feelings with the fact that Eric kept telling me how happy he was, and how comfortable I made him feel, with what I perceived as such little effort. We fell in love with each other and ourselves so rapidly that it was a shock to my dysfunctional system. But Eric reassured me, time and time again, it’s all gonna be ok, woman!
It’s been way better than just ok. Eric has always made it so easy. I found out rather quickly that ease and simplicity are the central forces of his M.O. And whereas before, when I genuinely believed that authentic love had to be complicated and painful, this time, I started cherishing, nurturing and basking in its simple beauty.
Many of my friends questioned my sanity. Instead of being happy for me, I was questioned, often with the phrase, “are you ok?” Like I had been abducted into some cult of happiness.
Some of them got it. Being with Eric saved me from all the nonsense and noise that I had overcomplicated my life with, and managed to blame on every other partner that I had up until that point. For all the friends that faded out of my life- feeders on the negativity I had mistaken as a central part of my identity- I inherited Eric’s with open arms, and discovered the sweetness and liberation in being able to reinvent myself, just like that. It was all so easy. Hello, goodbye.
I used to think the sayings “Men are simple creatures” and “A way to a man’s heart is through his stomach” were total and complete bullshit. Until I met Eric. We’re churning out quite the original love story, huh?
Ok, I wouldn’t say that men are simple creatures generally- but I sure lucked out. Mine is. And I’m fairly confident that you can find one, too. Just don’t go looking for love in all the wrong places, like, where you feel tired and sad, instead of energized and optimistic.
A week into dating/being attached at the hip, Eric asked me if I wanted to take a road trip to Yosemite National Park. Who was I kidding? I fucking hated camping. The dirt, the bugs, the whole aspect of roughing it, and working for it! I’ll have a Five Star hotel and some fine dining, please.
That’s what the old me- ah-hem, “me” a week prior- would have said. But instead, I agreed without blinking. And just as easy as he asked, and I had said yes, we carved out the time, packed the station wagon and hit the road. I can see now what a total disaster this could have been: what if Eric had some disgusting habit that I became fixated on during the 10 hour drive? What if I annoyed the crap out of him? What if, what if, what if!?
Like all of our adventures- and there have been many in a three year period of time- I’ve succumbed to Eric’s requests without giving it much thought at all. Maybe I’m crazy, or, I’ve just figured that as long as he’s along for the ride, we can be anywhere in the world and having a blast about it.
Newfound words to live by.
We’ve rolled our sleeping bags out over decades worth of fish bones at an abandoned campground at the Salton Sea and managed to have the time of our lives. I’ve opened my mind to experiences that wouldn’t have been possible under any past circumstances. I do it to make Eric happy. It’s all so effortless. Hell, sometimes I wonder how, and where, my former self dropped off. But in case you can’t tell, for once in my absent-minded life, I’m stoked about losing something.
Eric absolutely takes me out of my comfort zone before I can realize the potential effects of doing so. I just feel safe when I’m with him. Whether I’m on the back of his motorcycle crossing the Coronado Bridge, trying, in futile yet honest attempts to overcome my fear of heights; hitting the road on a 10 day National Parks camping tour across 4 states; boarding tiny airplanes on our way to exotic places; kayaking through a mostly frozen lake in Ohio; snorkeling in the ocean after I swore it off years ago; and finally, moving to a foreign country that I had never visited, leaving life as I knew it behind… there really is no limit on where we’ll go together. I just know that whatever comes next, I’m so happy that we met when we did.
I don’t want to know where I would be without him. There are times when I truly feel as though I’m going to wake up and realize that it was all just a dream. Some call this enchantment. I’m the lucky one who gets to call it my life.