This week’s Falling in Love on Fridays comes from one of my very best, dearest friends, Renee. We became friends 7 years ago while in high school and she quickly named herself (or maybe I named her?) my protege. But in the years that have passed, she’s definitely not in my shadows — she shines brightly all on her own. In fact, she’s rather radiant — both inside and out. She’s not only a talented writer, an insatiable explorer and truly a lover at heart (though she’s stubborn about it) — but she’s a courageous birth mom and incredible friend, too. She writes letters to her son Liam on her blog Letters to Little Man. Her posts almost always make me cry (that’s a lie, they always do) and the photos of her adorable tot are just… addicting. I feel lucky to call her one of my favorites and thankful she’s there to tame my SOSes (there are often a lot of them!). Her story below is about meeting and falling for her wonderful boyfriend that I’ve yet to meet, but have only heard great things about. It’s an important reminder to trust the process of love… and though you may fight it, whatever is meant to be, will surely work itself out. (Submit your own Falling in Love on Friday blog hereand read past submissions here.)
The Best Decision I’ve Ever Made
The first time he told me he loved me, I hyperventilated. That doesn’t sound romantic, but oddly enough, it ended up that way. We were only three weeks into our official, exclusive “boyfriend/girlfriend” status and it had only been one month and three days since our first date. Nobody falls that fast without suffering from the impact, and I wasn’t looking to become a casualty.
But then again, I was never “looking” for the things I ended up finding. He was a prime example of that.
The night of our first date, I almost cancelled on him. Even though I had accepted his invitation just the night before, by the morning I was already plotting excuses not to show — I don’t feel well. Something else came up. My mother made a surprise visit. He didn’t need to know that my mother only lived 20 minutes away and that I saw her every Sunday when I drove over to do my laundry.
I caved in and went anyway, though I showed up to our date fifteen minutes late. Not to be fashionable – I wasn’t that strategic when it came to dating. My only plan for the evening included being gone by 9:30 at the latest. An hour and a half and we would go our separate ways.
But I was wrong, as I almost always am when it comes to love. We were there until after 11 o’clock that night, a three hour first date. He kept offering to let me go if I had somewhere to be and I kept turning him down. It was the first time in a long time that I had said no to leaving instead of staying.
We happened quickly after that. He kept asking me on dates and I kept saying yes. He kept making promises and I kept being pleasantly surprised when he didn’t break them. We relearned a lot of things in those first few weeks. Like how nice it was to look forward to seeing someone. Like how it feels to have your heart in your stomach every time you get ready for a date. Like how to trust again.
I fell like I’d never fallen before – intensely but comfortably. We may not have been ready, but bravery took over and endorphins kicked in — we were goners before we’d even noticed, and no amount of force could have stopped the power of takeover. I lost count of how many times we told each other,
“I’m scared of how much I like you already,” because nothing that good could possibly be true. And then the “L” word dropped, like one of those nuclear bombs that leaves widespread damage years after the fact.
“I’m falling in love with you.”
Oh no. Not ready. Mind racing. Words failing. Panic building. Just…breathe. Breathe. In for five, out for five. In…and out.
Then came The Speech.
The one about what love means to me and what my last one did to me. About how I don’t take it lightly and it shouldn’t be said lightly because when you say it, you should mean it. About how he couldn’t possibly know me well enough to love me – good me, bad me, angry me, stubborn me. He hadn’t even met all of me yet.
It was one of those times where you try to talk someone out of loving you before they can do it themselves. He was the first man I’d fallen for in ages. When something like that happens, self preservation kicks in and you realize that if it’s going to end, you’d really rather it be your idea.
And yet, less than twelve hours after the speech had been spoken, it went from “I’m falling in love with you” to “I love you.” I gave him points for boldness and he gave me a look of hope and longing and meaning, as if he saw me in a way that no one else could. He was literally in a cold sweat by the time he got the words out, but he got them out. Despite all of my warnings, he said it.
But I didn’t hyperventilate that time. Instead, I said it back.
And we’ve said every day since.