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  • I have a love life past that includes experiences that I think lie outside the bounds of what is normally expected or withstood. And this has written something like an indelible message of trepidation across my lens for these things. It’s not a memory but almost a tangible thing. A flag I wave in front of myself wherever I go. I researched this one fully, his residence, criminal past and marriage history. I re-asked about things that I needed to be sure of. He said, one day you’ll tell me what was done to you sweetheart and then I’ll understand. And like a refrain he’d say, I’m not him, I’m not that guy.

    Early on the dates were precious and tinged with unnerving, exhilarating potential. Even the things that gave me pause interested me. Those close to me were thrilled. Finally, someone who appreciates her, this one knows what a lucky guy he is. Their enthusiasm never sat quite right in me which I attributed to my unquenchable fears borne of the past forcing themselves constantly onto the present. Every doubt I brought my therapist was met with, ‘relationships are hard’ or some slightly more insightful variant. Like a child given a band aid and a kiss after falling down, I would step out of her office newly, if incompletely comforted, and go right back at it. This was what I wanted, after all, someone with whom to wrestle through all that is - living, loving, being and becoming. Of course it was unsettling. There was nothing subtle about his desire to marry me, to have children with me, to have me move in. He had more than we both needed and all that mattered was our togetherness. It seemed ridiculous. Ridiculously fast. Then some friend would tell me a tender story about an impetuous pair or I would think of my own observations on this front. And it seemed possible sometimes. Not probable, but possible.

    I took things slowly. I was gradually encouraged by all that didn’t seem real at first. The offer to drive me up to Boston on our first date materialized into a reality a month later. The daily emails first thing in the morning, little poems of enthusiasm and endearment kept coming. They weren’t a hook, they were threads slowly forming a little corner of fabric. He showed up on a street corner before a job interview I was petrified over, and said, too much? They were human gestures, not perfect, not comfortable, and I attributed the extremely awkward feel of much of it to its newness for him and its scariness for me. We were seeing each other’s imperfect best, sincere efforts at moving towards one another and this made me happy even though it never felt safe. Is safe part of what I can hope to feel, I could never decide.
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