I met my boyfriend over a year ago, but I was thinking about the earliest days of knowing him today.
It doesn’t help that I was reading a really good fan piece about Jon Snow and Sansa Stark, in the alternate universe where they’re not actually related (thank goodness) and fall for each other. Something in the descriptions of how wonderful it is to have a good person love you so steadily, purely, unselfishly and yet kinda selfish exactly when you want him to be, stuck a hand out, grabbed my heartstrings and yanked. I know that feel, Miss Stark.
And I remembered a thing.
I met Sam when he ran for student body president in an election I oversaw. Yes, it was a little awkward for the Elections Commissioner and one of the presidential candidates to be falling in love. I apologize, with all the depth of feeling I can muster (not much), to his opponent, but there was nothing I could have done. Or would have.
How we got to this point is a goofy little story, but we went to the movies together the Friday night before elections, and at the end of the film (me chattering excitedly about the many references to actual Grimm fairytales), he walked me up the hill to my apartment. I invited him in for a second. I just didn’t want him to leave yet.
We talked, sitting on the edges of the scratchy standard-issue armchairs.
I said right out what I’d been planning to tell him for a week. “As soon as elections are over, I’m gonna kiss the hell out of you.”
He laughed. I can still see him ducking his head to hide it. He wore the nicest white shirt I’d ever seen anyone wear on a Friday night at the student theater.
“Okay,” he said.
“Just so you know it’s coming,” I added, feeling a bit awkward after the boldness of that admission.
(Can you tell I was reading angsty fanfiction late last night? I can.)
Elections were the next Wednesday. Had I been allowed to gobsmack him with the greatest kiss of his life promptly at 5 pm when the voting ended, I would have, but I had to count the votes.
He said later he knew the results as soon as I came out to announce them. I couldn’t look him in the eye.
We left together after the fuss had died down some. I don’t know that we waited long enough to be inconspicuous. Not that I care.
It was raining, so I asked him to come back to my apartment.
We talked for hours, mostly lying on the living room floor. I told him it was good for the soul. He plucked a long blonde hair (mine) out of the carpet and said he’d take my word for it.
“How did you get here?” he asked.
“How about you answer that first so I can understand the question.”
He laughed, and rattled off a quick life history. Born here, moved there, grew up, school, college, jobs this, clubs that, as the fresher details of the last few years rose up. “And then I met you,” he finished, his voice trying to be matter-of-fact. Failing only the tiniest detectable bit.
That sticks with me for some reason.
It stuck out to me then, of course. A girl he’d known for a month who awkwardly approached him and had not yet made good on her threat to kiss the hell out of him was an important life event, alongside things like graduating high school? Cause to wonder. And maybe for my stomach to do a cautious backflip.
These days I just wanna know how it was that he knew. And how it was that I knew, at least to not be nosy and questioning and a shameless fisher of compliments about the inclusion of meeting me in a list of the big points of his life. How I knew to let that be what it was – a shy, lovely, very Sam-like way to say, “Hey, I like you, and I think maybe in a big way, but at least in a way I’ll remember.”
Saying that a person changes your life is another bold statement. I’ve made it before. And truly, as Chuck Pahlaniuk wrote, “Nothing of me is original. I am the combined effort of everyone I have ever known.” But while my friends and other people I knew in high school and college have left small imprints, like the fact that I still save the “bread pieces” from Chex mix till last because I once dated a guy who liked to steal them from me, or the deeper, more subtle ways that years of talking to Derek or Hannah have changed the way I see things, that’s not quite what it means to say that a person has changed your life.
As I said on this blog many years ago, “It’s a lot of pressure to be the center of someone’s universe.” Saying that a person has changed your life does that. It puts them at the center. Even if they aren’t the only ones there, at least for now, the pressure bears down nonetheless.
Sam changed my life.
Not dramatically. Not the day he walked into it. Not with any particular gesture or look or word. If I drew my entire life on a long timeline, I couldn’t throw a dart and hit the day he changed my life. It wasn’t a day. It wasn’t like pressing a button. It was more like a handful of strings, slowly being wound closer and closer together. I could throw a thousand darts and hit all the points at which any twist of fate could have sent the strings slipping away from each other again. But they continue to wind together, like in a braid.
In which case I suppose I should change the sentence: Sam is changing my life.
Every time we talk, those strings pull a little tighter. (I miss him a lot, can you tell?)
He’s not doing anything special. Well, he is. But if you were looking for something out of the ordinary, you wouldn’t see it. Love is a very ordinary thing, I think. He’s just being.
It’s pulling me to be better. Cliche, I know, but it is. To be honest. Also kickass. And thoughtful. And maybe to have a bit more self-control. I’ll be damned if I ever embarrass him, after all he’s been to me.
When Sam asked about my life history, staring at the white plaster ceiling, I included meeting him at the end of it. Not because I yet understood what that would mean, but because I understood that it was true that that would be important. As I said to myself my whole life, convinced as I was that true love would come my way, you’ll know it when you know it. And I did. Even if only feebly.
My understanding of how important meeting Sam will be is still developing. And I hope, in a small secret way, that the picture is decades from completion. For now, it is enough to know that in a month I’ll get to kiss the hell out of him again.
Because of course, as he was leaving, I pulled him back. Just for a minute. I keep my promises.