Intimate Strangers

Last night, we went for a drive. As we approached the midpoint between Here and Middle-of-Nowhere, he turned to me and asked, “Do you ever think about how, just ten months ago, this same situation would have made you painfully uncomfortable?”

“No,” I replied, “I hadn’t thought about that.”

He continued, “Isn’t it strange how one moment someone is a complete stranger and the next, their life has become deeply entwined with your own…

In such a short period of time, you come to learn their deepest insecurities, their hopes and their history and their dreams. You learn that her “maybe” always means no (right, love?), you come to recognize her laughter in a crowded room, you discover that her life would be filled with far more big risks and grand adventures if only she weren’t so afraid; you come to learn the ways in which to support her and when to keep your ideas and opinions to yourself.”

After a brief pause, I responded, “Yes, and how in just a few short months, everything can change. Contrary to the mind’s insistence on logic, love arrives in an instant. We spend our lives becoming the person we hope to be: capable and worthy of infinite love. Then one day, it happens. Love arrives and melts the icy walls encircling your heart…

It’s astonishing, yet, somehow, not at all unexpected. The immersion is beyond your control, yet it’s so easy to trust the process. The soul has its own wisdom, deeply divine and all-knowing. It’s the way he looks at you, with a coy smile and penetrative stare; the way he takes your hands in his own to create a conduit of your unique energetic chemistry (so every eye on the coffee shop lifts its gaze); the way you begin finishing one another’s thoughts within hours of meeting. It all feels so new, yet so familiar, safe. Near instantaneously you recognize that, despite the butterflies and hesitation, this intimate stranger is tied to you for life.

I could have told you on our first date that I would be entirely comfortable driving in the car with you to some unknown destination just ten months later (or ten days later for that matter). I knew in my heart the day would come…”

I smiled to myself and mused on our conversation. (God, I’m the luckiest girl in the world!) Not only am I entirely comfortable with him, but I feel that he is helping me come to know myself. He knocks down the barriers I’ve so long been tiptoeing around. When you allow yourself to experience love, some fears are quelled, while others provoked. A fire is lit beneath some dreams while other hopes are reconsidered. We begin to mold our future ever so slightly to match that of our beloved; when you dream of returning home to the misty pines, hot soy chai and starving artist glam, I plot my life around the same; when I share dreams of ticking away on a typewriter as my alter ego gains small-time fame, teaching yoga and changing the world, he enthusiastically builds plans to lift me up. He tethers me more firmly to the ground while elevating me closer and closer to the stars.

“I know you, and I love you. I know you–all of you–and, though you are by far the strangest girl I have ever dated, I fall more in love with you every day.” He cocked his head and smiled. “Do you trust me?”

“Mhmm,” I replied as a smile crept across my face.

“Close your eyes, beautiful. I have a surprise for you.”

And we drove. And we drive. And we continue to excavate, learn and discover more about one another, about ourselves, and about the life we now share. To contemplate the origin of souls and the complex, yet intricately simple, nature of love and commitment and companionship. The comings and the goings, the innate knowing. We ask questions, seek out answers and come to accept that most questions are neither A, B or C; most are those godawful fill-in-the-black or short essay answers where no answer is ever quite right. We learn to trust: those we love, divine power and, perhaps most importantly, our own power.

We breathed in sync, in silence for the longest and the shortest moment, then arrived at our destination. “Keep your eyes closed, sweetheart,” he instructed as he opened the passenger door and led me out of the car, his masculine hand encasing my own. “Okay, open your eyes!”

My eyes opened to more than the beckoning adventure before us. And in that moment, an hours’ worth of dialogue culminated with a full heart bounding out of my chest. He knows me, and I trust him. He loves me, and I love him–so completely–and in the brilliant words of F. Scott Fitzgerald, “that’s the beginning and end of everything.”

*Originally written in August 2014.

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