Continued from Romeo: Part 2
Romeo and I were falling fast, but not recklessly. We decided pretty much immediately that we were going to be exclusive and that yes, long distance was going to be hard, but that if any two people in the whole world could make it work, it would be us. We texted non-stop, wanting to know every minute detail of the other person’s day, every big picture moment that connected from our pasts, relishing every inside joke that made us both roll with laughter. I included him on group texts with my friends because I wanted them to know and love him the way I did. He Skyped every night and we would talk for hours about everything and nothing. I sent him care packages of his favorite cookies, or color coded pens for study sessions, or vitamin C packs when he got sick.
Sure we had our problems because we were… ya know… humans, but even dealing with his bullshit felt like a privilege. It meant we were real.
We were real, and we were happy.
When he came to visit me for the first time and drove 12 hours round trip for a 36 hour visit. I grabbed him a case of Lonestar Light beer to have at the house when he got there and he told me later that he couldn’t quite put it into words, but that small gesture of affection had made the entire drive feel like it was worth it.
When I visited him on base for the first time and he took me to a party with all of the other pilots in training where we both fell into our social butterfly nature and had a blast talking to almost everyone but each other. Even with our backs to each other, our hands still kept finding fingers and pockets to hook on to. “I’m here. I see you. I’m yours,” was the unspoken refrain.
When he took me to meet his family, his three year old niece told me “I like playing with you,” and he grabbed my hand in a way that told me I had passed some test that I didn’t fully know I was taking.
When we spent over 14 hours on Skype the weekend I got back from a disastrous week-long vacation that had been destroyed by a Category 4 hurricane. “I just need to see your face,” he told me, “If your evacuation had taken one day longer, I was going to fly down there myself to bring you home.”
When he told me that he wasn’t going to be able to make it to my 30th birthday party because he had a cross-country flight that weekend, and when the flight was cancelled last minute, he drove down to surprise me. “Is that seat taken,” I can still hear him asking as I looked up from my friends to see him standing there. I was so shocked and so thrilled that I thought my heart would explode.
When I went to visit his house for the first time and he wrapped me in his arms and whispered into my ear, “Welcome home.”
That’s how it always felt with him – like home. My friends would ask me, “So at the end of this year you’re really thinking about moving to God knows where for this guy, huh? You’d leave your friends, and your job, and your family, and your home for him?”
No. I wasn’t leaving my home. I was finally going home.
I’ve lived my entire life with fear that I was never enough and always too much, and for the first time, the soundtrack from the back of my mind that left me perpetually anxious and terrified finally stopped playing it’s loop of: “you’re too loud you’re too crazy you’re too wild you want too much you need too much you don’t make enough you don’t do enough you don’t deserve your happiness you don’t you aren’t you can’t you won’t” and just shut the fuck up. I was at peace. He understood me, and I understood him. He was my person, and I was his. Being loved for the qualities that you always thought at best you would be loved in spite of is home.
We don’t love people for who they are; we love people for who we are when we are with them. With Romeo I was my best Me.
He made me calm and made me brave.
To be continued in the final installment, Romeo: Part 4