I can't believe I really forgot how it feels to be in love.
I convinced myself that love was something you felt intensely when you were young, because your heart was pink and unblemished, and then as you got older it was gentler and necessarily duller each new time. Scars build up, they numb the sensations, just like on skin.
I thought that's just how it worked. It seemed normal to be numb.
Yes, I love you, of course I love you, though I don't feel that fluttering in my stomach, I don't get that stab of desire or that deep ache of overloaded happiness. Who does? I haven't felt that way since I was a kid. No one does. It's enough to simply not be sad. That's what love it. Pleasantness. Comfort. The idea that you can stop working.
"Don't call me at work again, no no, the boss still hates me, I'm just tired and I don't love you anymore, and there's a restaurant we should check out where the other nightmare people like to go, I mean nice people, baby wait, I didn't mean to say nightmare..."
I was wrong.
I can't believe I forgot what love really feels like. When it's right. When it's returned. Jesus, did I ever feel this way? I almost can't even stand to write about it because, as close as written words come to describing my inner feelings compared to trying to speak them, it still seems to cheapen this feeling.
You know those old people who still look at their spouses with perfect love and happiness; commercial grandparents displayed, smiling and caressing, maybe dancing in slow motion, behind empowering voice-overs about investing or life insurance? Maybe you've implanted a memory of your grandparents appearing this way, and maybe they were and maybe they weren't. But some couples really do stay happy forever. It had nothing to do with any rockiness the relationship might have gone through in the past. It only has to do with true love. I always thought those people were the only lucky ones in the world. I don't know how it's possible but I can safely say, in spite of the fact that a part of me is laughing at myself as I write this: that can still be me.
Since the time I was born, I was convinced that I would die before I was 16. Or maybe at the age of 16. When I was 16 I went to college instead, had sex for the first time, drove my own car, made my own friends. In one year my entire adult life started. I guess it was like a death in a way. Not in the sense of bad, but in the sense of change. But somehow, living past that point was like, "well, what now?" I hadn't planned for a future. I had unexpected time. I was never a very happy person, so this was a little disheartening. I knew that because of how deeply I could feel everyday emotions, if happiness ever did find me, or I it, it would be a blinding supernova, an apocalypse of joy. But every time I felt on the cusp of realizing this happiness, it would peter out, sour, become something awful, cause one more scar. Or maybe it would just die with a whimper, novocain to the soul, the worst kind of ambivalence. My experiences with love have been like this. I never really thought I'd find that supernova, but it was becoming more apparent that I might not even find my way out of the darkness. Why live a life just to get it over with?
So I shouldn't have to explain how alien is this feeling to me. I didn't even think I'd be alive today, let alone happy. Let alone happier than I've maybe ever been. I say "maybe" because I haven't set myself down for a full life review. Don't think I will, either. I don't need to convince myself that I feel good right now.
If I were reading this for the first time, knowing myself, that statement alone would bring me to tears.
I should be so afraid. I understand this could end me. If this feeling doesn't peter out, if this is the supernova that it seems to be, then I'll burn to death in the white hotness of it. And if it does peter out, there's no further down I can dig. There's bedrock beneath my feet already. Beyond numb is nothingness. So I should be terrified. Terrified of how easy it is to fling myself in, to dive headfirst without knowing where the bottom is. But the water seems clear. And the sunshine feels good. And it is easy. And I'm not afraid.
Because I remember now what it feels like to be in love.