The other day, I was listening to Bjork and in one of my favorite songs, she sings: "I miss you, but I haven't met you yet." In response to that lyric, one might ask: "How can you miss someone you've never met?" Somehow, I understand the lyrics perfectly. That sentiment has been on my mind for a few days now.
In that spirit, I'm putting pen to paper to express some thoughts that will ultimately lead me to you. So here I am, in present day, looking ahead to a time when you will be mine and I will be yours. I reflect over a lifetime of decisions, triumphs, setbacks, circumstances, and emotions that inform my current path. Without meeting you, without knowing you, and without loving you, I turn to you now. I long for you. I wait for you. Patiently. Willingly. Lovingly.
I become excited when I play in my mind the various ways in which our worlds might collide. Will we know right away through an obvious crash of coincidence? Or will our story begin with a slow burn and ignite to wildfire over a longer period of time? Either way, I remain open and ready. I feel calm and confident that the timing of "us" will be just right.
You know, I've received untold amounts of unsolicited criticism and direction over the years about how and when I should approach my search for you. Even though I found a good chunk of this input to be trite, useless and even condescending at times, I can recognize that most of it was given in a spirit of love and concern. People just want me to be happy. Sure, I wish they would walk in my shoes before doling out the advice. "It will happen when you least expect it," they say. "Don't force it, don't try so hard." Now why didn't I think of that? Actually, I did think of that and I tried that approach.
"Nate, you can't rely on someone else to be complete. You have to be fulfilled and complete as a person before you find love." I've heard that one too many times, and yet, it's often given by people I'd label as co-dependent or unfulfilled in life. I know a lot of people who base their entire happiness on whether they have someone to love or not. Actually, I agree with the mindset that we can't rely on someone else to be happy and we can't expect our own 60% to be added to someone else's 40% to equal 100%. In general, it's well-intentional advice. But sometimes, I want to gouge my eyes out when someone invites me to give love more time. I've taken time. Too much time. I'm a complete person. I've had longer to reach my 100% than most. I'm ready for love. I'm deserving of love. There aren't any other boxes I need to check to be worthy of love. I'm ready for YOU.
I can't blame people for taking an interest. After all, my story is a little different. I mean, I didn't even begin dating until I was 36 years old. Here I am three years later, single as ever. I'm sure some have wondered why I haven't managed to couple up within this time frame. I've felt a fair amount of sadness about it myself. However, I've come to see that this three-year period wasn't wasted. It served as preparation for being able to love you more readily and more effectively.
At present, I've been in love exactly three times in my life. I was in my early twenties the first time, but I didn't allow myself to date or pursue love back then. Besides, he was straight and uninterested, but damn if I didn't become enamored with him. I'd had crushes before that time and I've had a few since, but this was something more. We became very close and spent a lot of time together. I was on a high whenever he was around. Without him loving me back, I would've done anything for him. His happiness mattered more than my own. Well, he got married and moved on with his life and we only maintain contact if I make the effort.
The two other times I've been in love have been within the last three years. Both men were unavailable, and I knew this upon meeting them. They were taken, what could I do? But I suffer from a heart condition that causes me to put emotion first and rationale second.
I refer to the first man in this recent pair as my "transition guy". Getting to know him, seeing myself in him, being able to relate so deeply, developing a physical attraction to him, desiring to get to know him better, wanting him to love me. It was the first time in my life that I allowed myself to love another man without feeling like I would burn in hell as a result. It took me nearly two years to let him go and to get over the fact that we couldn't be together. You see, I think a lot of teenagers experience something similar. "Young love" they call it, but I was experiencing this phenomenon in my mid-30's. A lot of it was about my specific feelings for this guy. And, to be honest, a lot of it was that it felt so good to finally let go and be open to love. He and I remain great friends, but I will always regard him as my "transition guy" - the man who opened my heart to the possibilities of what love could be. I was capable of giving love in several ways before meeting him, but he helped me learn that I could receive love and not apologize for it. I wasn't sure I'd ever get over how I felt about this guy. That is, until...
Another guy entered my life in a way that opened me up even more. We'll call him "Mr. Intensity". What started out as intense physical attraction grew into intense feelings of love. But, as I stated, he was in a relationship with someone else. I come across attractive men all the time and don't necessarily feel anything. I appreciate their physical beauty and move on with my day. That's how things started here. And then I got to know the son of a gun. He let me in, I let him in. We related on several topics. We enjoyed deep conversations. Not only that, he admitted to finding me attractive, too! What a new concept: Having feelings for someone who actually could return some of my feelings. I'm not saying he felt the same feelings for me, and whatever level of attraction he felt toward me certainly didn't development into anything nearly as deep as what I was feeling. But this man opened me up and made me feel beautiful, desirable, intelligent, witty, talented, and...sexy. I'd never felt so deeply for another person in my life.
Well...heartbreak followed. It was my own damn fault. I knew he wasn't available, and I allowed myself to feel some pretty intense emotions knowing that nothing would come to fruition. The one thing that gives me solace in letting him go is that, at some point, you will come along. If I was able to let go of "transition guy" and develop such intense feelings for "Mr. Intensity", I know I can let go again. My heart got broken twice. Really bad. It was my own doing. But after not allowing myself to date until I was 36, I might have done some over-correcting in my approach to friendships and romance. I will spend a lot of time repairing the damage that was done by waiting for so long to date and be open to love. Sure, I wish my "transition guy" and "Mr. Intensity" could have been in more of a position to love me and return my feelings. But they didn't do anything wrong. They actually prepared me to receive you. When your heart is broken more than once, it creates new openings where love can enter in new and unexpected ways.
So now, I turn my thoughts to you. My lover. My partner. My equal. There are things I want to express now, at present, without having the slightest notion of who you are or when we'll meet. There is power in voicing what you want and putting it out there. Perhaps I'll let you read this letter 6-12 months into our relationship. It will be powerful to look back at what I've presented here and see if it supports our journey or not. I have every belief that it will.
I will be with you because of how you treat others. We won't be perfect, but you and I will share a common concern for the downtrodden, the weary, the underdogs, the disenfranchised, the forgotten, the minority, and the marginalized. We will be united in this level of awareness because of what we experienced individually before we met and what we will continue to experience as a couple. Because we know what it's like to be labeled as "faggots", "apostates", and "menaces to society", we will actively look for ways to contribute to society in a way that is true to who we've become. Sure, you'll treat your mother and siblings and close friends well. But that's easy. What will draw me to you is the way you treat a server at a restaurant, the stranger standing in front of you at the grocery store checkout, and the driver who just cut you off in traffic. Chances are, if you treat others well, you'll treat me like I expect to be treated.
Let's talk about how I'm going to treat you for a second:
- You'll be reminded of your worth on a regular basis.
- You will always know that you matter more to me than anyone or anything else.
- Gift-giving won't just be something we do on holidays, birthdays and special occasions.
- At the end of each day, you'll come home to someone who is ready to listen.
- As a lover, you'll know by my touch how eager I am to please you.
- As a friend, you can totally trust me with your fears and insecurities. Vulnerability will be seen as a strength, not a weakness.
- As a partner, I'll know when to be insistent and get my way and when to acquiesce and admit that your way is better.
- I'll take great pride in taking you to family parties, a night out with friends and work gigs. I want to have you on my arm, letting everyone see how lucky I am to be with you.
- I'll try to step out of my comfort zone and try new things that interest you.
- I won't argue with you in front of other people. I'm sure we'll disagree at times, but I'll use discretion on things that concern only us.
- When people ask me about you, my response will begin with a smile. I'll delight in talking about you.
- You won't ever have to question my level of attraction or desire for you. I'll make sure you feel sexy.
- Spiritually, we won't agree on everything. But there are a few things that we must be on the same page about. I'm anxious to explore those possibilities with you.
Now, one may read this list and think, "That's all sweet and good, but it's not realistic." But I refuse to settle for anything less. I don't require perfection, I'm far from it. I'm just willing to put in the work. "But Nate, you can't stay in the honeymoon phase forever." Bullshit! Yes you can, and I have every intention of maintaining this level of attraction, passion, meaning and purpose into my relationship with you. I know what it is to go without it for so long and I'm not willing to be deprived any further. You and I will be together because this level of love is the most important priority in our lives.
In reflection, I hate that I went so long without love. I have so much to give and I'm finally at a point to receive it fully. I'm not going to spend a lot of time being sad anymore, however. I can look at the experiences (and the men) from my past with appreciation, knowing that they've all prepared me for you. You will be the lucky recipient of a lifetime of love: no limitations or conditions, no longer pent up and restrained, fully accessible and unleashed. And I will require that of you because I'm worthy of it. I demand it because I'm prepared to give it. You will have to step up to the plate and put in the work with me. You and I will be together because you get that and you delight in that.
I'll close this letter with a reminder of that Bjork lyric: "I miss you, but I haven't met you yet." The possibility that exists within this statement gives me tremendous hope of what's to come. I may "miss" not having that currently, not having you currently, but that will change once you're by my side. I'll just continue preparing myself for you, for "us". And I trust that, at present, you're doing the same.
Until then, my sweet.