I see us for what we could be.
I imagine a million different futures, and you are in every one of them. I anticipate a life we could have together. It is beautiful and messy and real and it is ours.
You love your job and I love mine and we come together at the end of the night and cook dinner and talk about our days.
I make my own tofu dish to go with our sides because I am a vegetarian and you still haven’t chosen to give up your love of chicken and steak.
We talk about everything—even after all this time we still haven’t exhausted every subject. Some nights, we watch TV. We both love true crime but sometimes you let me watch “The Bachelor” when it’s on and you pretend not to like it.
Other nights, we read on the couch and I put my feet on your lap and your fingers begin to massage my foot and I smile because you haven’t yet noticed.
Some nights, you are out and I am home alone. I read a favourite book or I go up to my study (I will have my own study) to write. Some nights, I am out with old friends and my phone is kept tucked away because I don’t need to be texting you every moment.
We have trust.
We have worked through most of our issues separately and we have come into this partnership not needing the other to fill something in us that is missing.
We appreciate one another, and we want to enjoy this life together.
Sometimes, we fight. And we yell and I cry and you want to cry but that is one of your struggles you haven’t worked through yet.
And the fights are bad, but we always manage to put aside our egos. I apologize first. Or you do. And we listen and make up and make love like we’ve only just met. Or like we’ve known each other for years because by now, we do, and because love and sex is better when you really know the other person.
But I blink and I am back to the current moment, and you are in front of me and we are at a bar, talking, and I have only just met you.
Our potential is there, in front of me. I can see my life unfold with you in it, and I want it.
But potential isn’t real. Potential is fantasy. And in this reality, you have a future for yourself that isn’t yet written. A future that isn’t mine to determine.
And my path isn’t decided either. Maybe a month from now you start to distance yourself from me because you’re suddenly busy and you’re not sure what it is I am looking for. And maybe a month from now, I don’t like the way you’re communicating. And I realize maybe I am looking for something different, something more.
Our potential bubble has burst and there you are—flaws and mistakes and warts and all—you are not some caricature I’ve imagined in my fantasy, but a real person with whom a future together is uncharted territory. Unknown and scary and full of possible pain and heartache and the potential was so much easier to fall in love with.
Because real love is terrifying. It is easier to fall in love with potential than it is to see love for what it is, and possibly get hurt by love, or have to be the one to turn love away.
But the beautiful thing about love is that it’s scary—that it is a risk worth taking. And when we let our projections and fantasies fade away, there is something even more wonderful for us to choose—if they are who we choose—someone who is real.
I fall in love with potential, but I don’t want to anymore. I don’t want to wake up months into a relationship and realize I haven’t fallen in love with the person for who they really are.
This time, I want to look at everything head-on. And I accept that potential is only keeping me further away from finding the real thing.