It always goes back to the first time I ever met him; the first time I ever even saw him maybe. I remember talking to him, the first time I looked him in the face, heard him say my name, stood in front of him and absorbed this person. I remember where the windows in the room were and what I was wearing. It didn’t feel crunchy and new; it was smooth and familiar. Lived in, practiced, repeated. The effortless immediacy of warmth and connection. I had been carrying my love for him around with me dormant in my bones, unidentified and unaware, and I’d suddenly realised it was there, a tool with newfound use. Hidden tendrils of myself filled out – the first presence of light in a previously unlit space. The astounding precision of “Oh, it’s you.” It was him. I loved him because I knew I somehow already had. It was such a tangible feeling of recognition, deep from behind my sternum, well into who I am.
I don’t believe in love at first sight, but everyone I have ever loved I knew I would as soon as I saw them. They just look different to me, it’s like they glow. He burns with a different electricity to everybody else; I know he has occupied me before. We have never been strangers to each other.
I still feel it now. Primal recognition, beyond being able to spot his face in a crowd of strangers or his smell in a pile of anonymous clothes. Certainty, in his company. Relief, whenever he appears. The sound of his voice makes sense to me.
Occasionally I still gasp when we make eye contact.
I love him because he’s clever, creative, funny, passionate, principled, curious, empathetic. Because his house is full and adorned: objects piled on the floor, walls full of art, things in frames leant against furniture. He’s calmed when being surrounded by the evidence of life, and that affinity between us relaxes me. He is a disciplined, neat man and I am a clumsy, messy woman. The stuff he likes he really cares about and puts inordinate effort into. The stuff he doesn’t care about he doesn’t fuck with at all, and that introspective clarity is rare in people. He is honest with me, letting me know I am always deserving of the truth – of the equality of mutual knowledge. He lets me know I am important; that the things I think and say have value and deserve attention. He’s never told me I’m being too loud. He always has a response to every question I ask him. He’s always listening, always engaged, always thoughtful. He encourages me in ways only he could – with sensitivity, humour and respect. He makes me feel even and full; light and vibrant and excited and special. In the atmosphere of our relationship, I have realised I am buoyant and capable.
He’s compassionate and gentle with vulnerable people and animals and the environment. He’s bright and beautiful with my family. He has an attention to detail that I don’t. He doesn’t think my feet smell, even though they do. He’s unconsciously brave and adventurous. He’s always asking to take photographs of me, and he’s the only person I’m not embarrassed to allow to do so. He defends and argues for me in my absence. He’s thrilled and frightened whenever I do something reckless or dangerous. He knows enough about computers that I am finally released from confrontation of my technophobia. He likes everything I cook. He’s one of the only men I’ve ever met who doesn’t change when he’s around his friends. He buys fresh flowers for my house because he knows I like them, and antihistamines because he knows I am allergic to them.
He’s sparky and sexy and weird in ways I know mean I will find him interesting forever. Something about him remains unpredictable and unknowable, a fascinating, mischievous mystery. I continue to want all of him, relentlessly, continuously, overwhelmingly. I want to give him everything, anything of mine; a frantic eagerness to open myself and provide for him however I can. I want to cook and bend over for him, close my fist around a handful of his hair, drive in the night whilst he sleeps in the passenger seat. I want to take his advice and warm my feet underneath his legs, feel the tension as we gradually raise our voices in an argument, prickle at the acrid scent of insults in the air. I want to watch him read a book I recommended, push a hoover around whilst I lie on a sofa doing nothing, listen to a voicemail he has left me that I will never think of again. I want to meet him at a restaurant, watch him walk towards me and realise he is wearing clothes he has picked out whilst thinking of me. I want his hand on my neck and my blood in his mouth. I have a desperate hunger to consume and embrace him, a frank madness for him. Strangely I feel enthusiasm, even comfort in this wild indulgence of foolishness. What a sensation it is to have such limitless desire for someone, and then be so utterly satiated by them. I have dissolved into the satisfaction without objection. Being with him feels like everything and nothing. Simple in the way being alone feels but rewarding in the way being understood feels. Because of him I’ve rediscovered a peaceful confidence in myself that I thought I’d lost as a result of growing up, and now, formerly hostile environments delight me again. My laughs last longer, my eyes open wider. He’s made living more comprehensible, hopeful, abundant, more remarkable.
I had a ‘crisis’ around my 22nd birthday about what love actually is. Whether it was actually a constant state, a consistent emotion, or just something you feel in a moment (“I feel so much love for you right now”) and you simply acted upon the memory of that emotion until it faded away too much to be able to motivate you anymore. But knowing him, loving him – I walk down the street, cross the road, open and close cupboards, load my car, fall asleep, wash my hair, stub my toe, in love with him. Everything mundane is now conspicuously less so, because there is now this loving context to it all. The world is also instantly more threatening – it has the potential to harm this other form that I cannot control or watchfully inhabit in the same way I can my own. I am passionately anxious for him, and vulgarly, it electrifies me to have such an ache for someone else. There is an exchange of appreciation for each other shared between us that sometimes feels like it keeps me alive, as rhythmic and intuitive as breathing. I walk separate from him healed and enhanced by our bond and his treatment of me. If he feels even an eighth of the way I feel about him about me, then I move through life an improved and thoroughly loved thing (yes, it is a competition). I say all this, knowing that I will never be sufficiently articulate enough to describe this feeling. As a writer, the realisation that the most poignant experience of my life is linguistically untouchable is something I have had to reluctantly accept and adjust to. Whilst infuriatingly robbing, I have eventually come to concede it as a marker of prominence. This thing is incapable of being clothed by such earthly, meek effects like words. It exists appropriately on some inaccessible, abstract plane, alongside similarly inexplicable concepts like dreams and colours and music. It is something to strip you of the ugly boorish impulse for control and render you a passive observer. I endure my love for him, powerless and without proof. It exasperates me every day that I cannot grasp my own possession and clearly present it to him like he deserves, but I know my filthy hands would break and dirty it, so I am also grateful for my own ineptitude. It belongs above and away from us, unpolluted and independent.
I frequently can’t believe he exists. That this wonderful, complicated person with curly hair and eccentric interests sees me as an equal – wants me as a partner. That this imperfect man is so perfect for me. The feeling of such intimate, intricate symmetry is startling and soothing. I think there is something about us that has always been – an inherent balance that even just the knowledge of, cures and makes me healthy.
He has given me so many gifts external and foreign to me, but also illuminated so many intrinsic qualities within myself that are significant and good. To see myself through his eyes and hear myself from his mouth is to confront the purest and most authentic self-love I have ever known. I love who we are as individuals together, changing and choosing each other. We coexist cosmically and in the earth; naturally and ethereally. In the heat I feel when I think of him and the things that make us objectively incompatible. In the unexplainable ways our lives parallel and the very explainable way our bodies have come together. It makes me believe in God and science all at once.
I love the way he walks, the way he dresses, the way he gets nervous. He’s maybe the only person in the world who doesn’t annoy me when they’re drunk. My love for him is just outrageous. It’s something that grows and moves and regenerates in me, something active and reactionary and mine. It radiates from me, it lives in me; a film on my skin, another substance pushed around my body by my heart. It fills up my lungs and throat, it extends out with my fingernails and the ends of my hair, it condenses with every step of my feet. When he looks in my eyes, says my name, disagrees with me, laughs with me, says the same thing as me at the same time, it feels like my blood turns gold and I become carnally divine. Being meticulously known and loved simultaneously by the same person is intensely defenceless; but that pocket of vulnerability is crucial. Intimidating, liberating, human magic that submerges and pierces. The breathlessness of absolute trust – what an exquisite animal pleasure! How fulfilled and sentient all of this has made me. I know some of the things I have written here he doesn’t believe in or agree with (he will have rolled his eyes at my use of the word ‘cosmically’), and we will talk about them later and I will love him because of it. I just adore him, easily and strongly. And what an exceptional thing it is to have my profusion of love be returned.