By now I’m sure you all know how Julius and I’s love story goes. Some of you have lived it with me. Others heard it recounted over and over.
Today in my ridiculous amounts of spare time that I have completely squandered away (and am trying not to feel guilty about) I went through all of the photo booth images on my computer. They chronicle the spring though winter 2014. The summer that I spent in Lawrence crash coursing a relationship that I wanted so badly to be real.
The truth. Well the truth is that I fell in love with Julius hard. Really-really- unadvised hard. And all before I had any remotely romantic interactions with him in person.
When our long distance flirtationship was born I had just been romantically steam rolled by another man. Flattened and stunned I gathered up all of my guts that I could muster and took a leap of insanity. We’ve talked before about how I don’t do particularly well alone. I CAN do it but life just sucks without a partner. I hear the many of you that lust for your bachelor days of yore, it’s just not my cup of tea. So here I was, heart broken, reeling and totally smitten with a man three states away.
Yada, yada, yada. I show up to Lawrence for one weekend a month before I was to stay for three months. Julius and I had a chaotic, confusing, weird couple of days that ended in a lot of uncertainty. But you know how I like to cling. So we resumed skyping and writing for the gap month.
Then Ev and I returned for what would become a very very long 60 + days. That first weekend I invited him to be my date to my best friend’s wedding. At that juncture I didn’t know which was worse to be a date-less maid of honor or to have a pile of pictures with a man that I briefly loved way back when and blahh blahh tragic break up story to haunt me until the end of time. This is real shit that women (I) think about: Do I want to invite you to the family Christmas photos? I can’t undo documenting you in all of my magical moments that I would like to fondly reminisce about one day. Trust I have plenty of jpegs in the don’t open ever folder. Eventually you become more discerning.
I invited him despite my hesitations. It had to be exceptionally awkward for the poor sweet man but he made social butterfly lemonade and we had a swell time. Yes, there are pictures to document that indelible limb that I went out on.
Today, I scroll though a mess of selfies and videos of Ever being a total goon. There they are– those sweet, sweet pictures and videos of Julius and Ev being silly when our family was just a newborn baby.
Julius and Ever got thrown into the ring together without much warning. It wasn’t easy for either of them. Ev was insufferable. Completely defensive about a new man in addition to the general stress of turning our regular routine on it’s head. I -then and now- make a lot of concessions for the fact that for every break up that I’ve endured in the past seven years so has she.
Those first months were terrifying. The weight of fucking up your kid’s life any more than you already have sits like a lead vest on your chest. Things were pretty tumultuous between Julius and I. All kinds of stressors compounded with some major trust issues that my darling bug a boo mercilessly projected at me. We had a lot of long painful let’s call it quits shall we conversations that summer. I was sure that I was back in the old familiar place of self-dreamt delusions about a love that you only wished were real.
The love was real. The logistics were just fucked.
Yet, there he was on the other side of the lens immortalizing himself into a photographic memory that is harder to swab clean than your own mind. I’m excellent at forgetting, it’s the reminders that get me.
I stand by that the first year is the hardest. Fuck the first few months are the hardest.
But we both kept coming back together. Kept gambling on a love that we didn’t have any futures on. We were simply unable to let go. Over and over and over. Honestly it wasn’t until spring 2015 that I was sure that what we had was a safe bet. And still for a full year we kept participating in each others memories holding a lump in our throats that one day we may look back in pain and anger.
Why didn’t we walk away all of the times that it was really fucking hard? Some combination of: Fait. The fact that’s it’s really hard to undo what you’ve done. All of those magical moments where we flooded every dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin receptor in our brains. Because both of us are really tired of starting over. Because there’s a baby involved. That at the end of every day, beneath all of the layers of shit, that we genuinely liked each other.
The other day a friend posted an instagram picture of her beautiful children that were born really close together and said something to the effect that she couldn’t believe that she ever doubted this. That’s a universal truth if I’ve ever heard it. That the scary things- the big things- like creating a new life, embarking on new love, taking a new career path, doing what ever it is that is terrifying are the most important. Maybe they don’t always work out but some of them will. When they do you might want to look back to two years ago and see the pictures that remind of a time when you weren’t sure. Because they remind you that you won’t be sure again but that time will march on and that certainty has a way of finding you. It’s the nature of things.
So, the truth is that I thought then that we were crazy. That we were doomed. That I was hurling myself towards a wrecked heart. That I was jeopardizing the little stability in my daughter’s life that I could give her alone. The truth is that I was unsure about my boyfriend. The truth is also that I was wrong. It turns out that he’s a pillar of stability, that every picture is better with him in it and of that I’m sure.