A Story About Choosing To Stay


When you wear that Hugo Boss brown leather jacket, I remember you knocking on the window of my basement apartment in Paris, me going up the stairs to let you in, and us hugging tight as the cold rushed in from the winter outside. Four years after we met and sometimes I forget how much I loved you then, how my world froze in place when I met you, how I’d wait and wait and wait and wait until you came to my apartment each evening. You’ve become a part of me now. We’ve become this unit and I’ve immigrated you to the United States and you’re still learning English and now, instead of meeting at Notre Dame Cathedral for a date, we talk about how you have to do your taxes and when your health insurance will kick in so I can cancel mine. Instead of declarations of what our future will be like—the dream of it, the hope of it—we are in our future. We are grown and settled and married and now what we have is the stretch of time before us to see what love can do.

They say that falling in love is scary or letting someone in is hard work or that surviving past the first couple of years of a relationship is rough. But, I don’t know, I think falling in love with someone is easy. I think letting someone in when you’ve wanted to be known is simple. They crawl into your heart and there is so much love and so much light that it doesn’t leave you a lot of time to be fearful. The light is intoxicating. You can drink it and get drunk on it and it can sustain you for a very long time.

I think I’m hitting the hard part now. Everything before this—the falling in love, the sustaining that love—was simple. At the time it didn’t feel as simple, but in retrospect, I see there was no choice for me. I was going to fall. I was going to love you. I was going to let you crawl into my heart.

But, now. When it’s taxes and saving money and who’s going to cook dinner and why is your scarf on the dining room table and maybe you can turn the television down and doctor’s appointments and the settling into life together, this is when the staying feels like a choice I have to make, when there are pro/con lists, when “you know when you know” stops applying and love becomes something I have to cultivate, to bring alive again, to find in the everyday.

I know I still love you. I’m afraid though. I’m afraid that, the more your heart becomes a part of my heart, the less I will be okay without you. I know that’s morbid and I know I shouldn’t be thinking like that, but I am a self-preservationist and, all I want is to know that I will not be annihilated by our love. I think sometimes I’d rather be alone than risk being torn open. I know love can be calm and doesn’t have to be this heart-stopping thing, but not my love. I can’t love like that. I love completely and want more, more, more. I cannot simply love in moderation. It is everything or it is nothing.

I think sometimes there is a safer bet out there for me. Maybe that’s what I’m looking for when I do look elsewhere, when I sneak a quick glance onto the supposedly greener grass. Maybe I do believe that there exists a person who I could easily let myself love, who likes the things I like or who fits a different version of who I saw myself falling for. Maybe I think that would be less scary. Maybe I see someone who is a writer or a creative or who has the same aspirations as me as someone less likely for me to love as intensely as I love you. I don’t know. Sometimes I just think our love is too intense for my personal constitution.

But, then I look at you and I think I’m not as brave as you. You have loved me so completely for so long. Four years later and you still look at me the way you looked at me when you’d show up in that Hugo Boss brown leather jacket. You still hold me like you never want to let me go. You still get excited when we have the same days off and we get to go grocery shopping together at Trader Joe’s. You still kiss me in the produce aisle of Trader Joe’s right after you pick up five golden apples and throw them in our cart. You still sleep as close to me as you can, your arms and legs intertwined with mine.

And, I think, even if love feels more like a choice now and even if it doesn’t all come easy and even if I have that pro/con list and I’m scared and I don’t want to get obliterated by our love one day, even if all of that is true: I think I still choose you. I think that, even if I think I have a choice, maybe I don’t. Because, no matter what I try, no matter how far I go, my heart keeps beating for you. It keeps choosing you.