I was introduced to Oli-face at his apartment a year and a half ago.
You can tell that this person is already an important person to me, but let me back up a little bit.
Here we go:
A little over two years ago, I moved from my San Diego hometown to Chicago.
I had no discernible experience with winters or with large cities or with the general feeling of the midwest at all.
I left a year after I graduated from college, which I went to in San Diego, so basically what I’m saying is: it’s not like I had been places. I had done no traveling, and knew only how to navigate within a 30 mile radius.
This was feeling like a dramatic shift in my life, but I still secured an apartment in Chicago with a friend, packed up my car and left.
I could say a million reasons why I moved out here, and I’ve said them all to various people at various times, but the truth is: I moved out here for no good reason. I moved here for no reason at all, even though I was telling some people it was to do theatre and other people it was to grow my yoga teaching.
The truth is: I had no idea why I started my engine that morning.
I started my car in San Diego and wept for 2,000 miles.
I was saying goodbye to magic. I felt like I was losing my dearest loved one. I was in love and I was heartbroken.
As I drove, I wondered why anyone would leave a life they had no complaints about. I had no complaints about my life in San Diego. I liked my jobs and my friends and my activities. I liked the weather and the city spots and the general vibe.
But I kept going. I kept going through Nevada and Utah and Colorado and Nebraska and Iowa. And the whole time, I was thinking, okay, this was a great stint, but you can go back now, girlfriend.
Still, my steering wheel took me east.
My first year in the city was very rough.
I had a hard time adjusting to the weather and to the overall vibe of the city—things move faster here, and are generally more high strung. It’s a different vibe when the city slushes out of their front doors to dig their cars out of snow for forty minutes before driving to the yoga studio.
San Diego and Chicago are opposites in a lot of ways: San Diego sits east of the water; Chicago sits west of the water. San Diego is sunshine and beaches and burritos. Chicago is making your own right-of-way, old brick apartments with doors that don’t close and kitschy neighborhood hang-out spots.
After about a year in the city, I was starting to feel more comfortable. I had friends, I had work, I could more or less pay my bills, and I knew enough about the city grid that I was no longer getting lost all the time.
I was figuring out how to be myself.
So as I said, I met Oli-face a little over a year and a half ago.
As I write this, I sit looking through the slats in a chair I’m using as a foot stool, and I find his set of green eyes that I have peaked into 700 times and have never not found everything.
At the time, we were both in other relationships and we had agreed to meet each other as musicians. I showed up sometimes with my flute or my harmonium (but mostly just with myself), he opened the door with his guitar, and we spent two nights a week for a year writing music together.
A typical conversation between us might start with him trying to figure out an old song on the guitar, using some sort of counting to figure out the chords, and over the course of an hour and a half, we will span the topics of broken relationships, the good ol’ days, growing up, learning to be ourselves, and music theory, before finally returning to the song. This whole experience feels so absolutely effortless and obvious and continuous and enticing that I don’t even realize the passing of time or the divergence from the original topic, and I am reminded only of the initial conversation because we always come back to it.
It feels like reading a book that doesn’t feel like work to read: that I am both part of the story and I am audience to the story. I simultaneously know where this is going—but only the slightest second before it happens—and I also have no idea where it’s going.
I am so inside the story that the entire universe draws its way inside of it and the story is filled with the whole of the universe, as am I, and I find that this unity is the same as connection, which is the same as gratitude, as love, as peace, as Now, as Life, as God.
I didn’t realize that I love this person; I realize that I am this person.
I spent an entire year melting into this person with music and conversation. I spent an entire year talking about all the stuff that feels shitty inside of me and realizing that the only difference between feeling shitty and not feeling shitty is how we name our feelings—it has nothing to do with fixing ourselves or becoming different than we are or somehow figuring out how to not suck balls.
The way I spent my time when I left his apartment started shifting rapidly around eight months into our friendship. I would leave and spend my entire drive home contemplating every possible imagining of the universe and taking breaths with the intention to fill entire planets with oxygen.
Around the time I would get back to my apartment is when we would begin our text message conversation, starting with something like: I love our minds, or: I’m comparing the energy of tonight to gravitation: a gentle, invisible force that holds galaxies together; and ending an hour later with a recount of the evening and a reminder that there was still so much left to talk about.
Of course I was in love with him: I had recurring dreams of us painting each other’s faces with blue crayons on mountain tops and singing songs to the city folks below after we made love.
But this feeling of love was interesting, because it was a love without wanting: even though I recognized that I wanted to be a part of as many minutes as I could with this person, I was not attached to this want.
It didn’t feel unrequited because I always left feeling love and loved.
And as these things usually do: life transitioned.
Life transitioned out of winter and out of spring and into summer, which cumulated one June afternoon where he asked me if we should talk about what was obviously and clearly going on between us.
Life has turned back to winter, and now the man I knew last winter as being in a relationship with someone while I was in a relationship with someone else, is sitting across from me and I can kiss him whenever I want.
Time is making us work for the offering of each other.
In the animated Aladdin, Aladdin is on his magic carpet hovering over Jasmine’s balcony, and as he gives her his hand to lift her up, he asks her: “Do you trust me?” The beginning of our relationship was the moment in-between Aladdin’s question and Jasmine’s response: this vulnerable, high-stakes dangle where hearts and livelihoods are hanging in the balance.
Our relationship started with the ending of other relationships, which felt dramatic and huge…and us—standing in the center of the rubble, shrugging our shoulders and looking into each other saying: all I want is to preserve this beauty.
And the accumulation of guilt, which we still felt, both together and alone, no matter how much we talked through the mechanics of the feeling. Guilt stemming from the feeling that we were taking something away from other people, saying somehow that they were no longer worth our partnership, even though we both disagreed with that thought.
To me, I wasn’t screwing anyone over. I couldn’t look at it like that, because the only feeling that entered my system when I entered his apartment was love. I felt clear and vibrant and present and beautiful. There was no thought inside of me that was saying, you should steal someone’s boyfriend, that sounds like a good idea.
The only thing I had up my sleeve was love.
There was a question that kept coming up again and again during this time: is my life mine for living or is it supposed to be lived according to other people?
The beginning of our relationship felt like the moment right after you pull the lap belt down for the roller coaster you’ve been eyeing all day, but have just now gathered up the courage to go on.
All I want to do is to take care of this relationship. I want to take care of my health and self, and facilitate the care of his health and his self so that we stay full and bright (even if we don’t stay in love).
But here’s the thing: sometimes I don’t take care of my health and my self.
It doesn’t matter if it’s just noticing that I’ve spent the three minutes in the grocery store line wrapped up in my thoughts or if I’m not paying attention to how much I’m sleeping and I’m not getting rested. I will always go through periods of falling out of balance. And when I’m out of balance, I can only offer my imbalance to the relationship.
On the day that I die, when you come to me and ask me when the last time I had a bad day was, my answer will probably be, “last Monday.” Until I die, I will still find myself getting pissed off at things and feeling bad about things and going through insecurity–I will experience a slew of emotions that are not kind towards myself, and are therefor not kind towards others, and I will share this with the people who I surround myself with.
But I have this feeling that we aren’t supposed to be in each other’s lives in any particular way. I have an inexplicably rooted feeling that we are here just to be together…just together, with everything that entails, because the purpose of relationship is not just to figure out how to have only good times, the point of relationship is to mirror back the stuff we don’t want to look at about ourselves, but when we look at it, it makes us feel so much better to be alive.
He just looked at me and said the following: “Everything that happens, happens as a result of something else.”
Suddenly, ten years of dating (which is almost half my life) makes so much sense.
Sometimes I think he should write my articles for me—they would be much shorter.
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Editor: Bryonie Wise
Photos: elephant archives