I look for you every morning. In my mind's eye. I see you in your writer chair. Or maybe sloughing, on your too-soft bed, dreaming away the idea of another workday. The opposite, that flurry of yours, whirring arms and legs of activity. Doesn't matter really where you are or what you're doing. As long as I know your face, see it clearly.
They ask me about you and, for a while, I demured. Some desire to keep you for myself, I said. Private. Where I can hold you and learn for myself. No outside influence. No flinging us wide open for commentary by the vox populi. It was more than that, though I could not recognize it at the time. Protection.
I've failed in love before. Spectacularly. Crash, burn, raging fires, critical wounds. Only natural that I'd be guarded. You know what I'm talking about. All that scar tissue. Closes us off, hardens those once gaping disappointments and steels us against the folly of love, the surrender of self, the daunting spectre of trust. The kids, too. Raises the stakes.
So what I told them was nothing. Not to be disingenuous, but because I didn't know why I was so drawn to you. Why. I had to find out.
Self-preservation works two ways. My poor heart, of course. Broken and kicked and pissed on. Obvious one. More important though, the rest of me. This life of mine, rituals I've cemented in my days and nights. Superficial stuff. Coping mechanisms and denial, what I think of me. Really think, those Not Pretty insecurities that gurgle beneath the cheery veneer.
If I let you see all of me, will you stay? You'll be the first.
It was difficult for us. Stops, starts and then what seemed the end. I wondered what I did wrong, where I'd failed. I wanted to shut it down before I leaked any more. Summon the sentrys and pull up the drawbridge and wallow again in the status quo, the careful barriers I've built around my doubt. And then, at the last minute, one final speculative note.
It was a turning point for us and, since then, we've poured forth, sometimes in a rush, others in a trickle, but always something meaningful. And I began to grasp what I couldn't earlier. Why.
The list is easy to start. Your guileless smile, intellectual tenacity, commitment to your son and your craft. You inspire my words. Inflame my fantasies. Melt my cynicism. I could love you for those alone.
You've given me so much more, though. A gift that I didn't know I needed; or did, but couldn't admit. You've aroused in me energies long dormant. Not just from my two years in the post-divorce wilderness. I was aimless long before that--ten years, twenty--sated by the comfort of a bed and a paycheck, by soggy, spirited nights and the escape of frivilous laughter. A static life of scattered satisfaction and an absence of fervor. A fatal equilibrium that I routinely ignored by directing my mind in purposeless pursuit.
All of which is anathema to you. If we do not challenge ourselves, how can we hope to accomplish anything of value? You pointed at me and forced me to confront these truths even though I didn't want you to see them. Ripped open the scars until I bled and life pumped forth. You loved me in spite of my dawdling spirit, that snuffed spark I lost long ago, so long that I don't even know why it went out.
Yet, somehow, you saw it, cajoled it to a flicker, to where I could feel it, my body on fire with it.
The flame is undeniable in you. Passion laid bare until you're sick, exhausted, with it. It's what really brought me to you. All those traits I admire, the ones that I lack. My yin. Who reaches out and pulls me closer, attraction to attachment to alliance. Making us both stronger, revealing more of each other, of ourselves.
I love you. Thank you.
Happy Valentine's Day.