When it comes to love, we hear a lot about falling into it.
We can’t get enough of all the sensations. You know: the rushes and gushes and flutters, the eye-battering and lip-puckering and cheek-blushing that you just can’t hide—not that you’d want to. We hear about first dates and romantic gestures and the creative showboating that proves this person is right for that one, that two hearts might not be anatomically halved but they fit perfectly together all the same.
Everyone loves hearing (and reading and watching) about this very specific stage of love, gobbling it up by the mouthful and either desperately wishing for your own dose or fondly remembering those moments you had yourself, the ones that seemed to go by entirely too fast.
Don’t get me wrong—I love it too. I remember how hard my heart used to beat when Chad’s hand would fleetingly touch mine as we walked side by side down the halls of our high school, as if his hand was made of electricity and not normal teenaged boy flesh, and he was zapping me instead of bumping into me on accident. (He lumbered, not walked, heavy-footed in hiking boots with an odd gait that seemed to belong to a middle-aged man and not a 17 year-old.)
I remember it all, and very fondly. I was once obsessed with that season of life, though every passing moment pixilates the memories; we’ve lived nearly ten years more since then and our hearts just don’t zap the same.
No, it’s not the same. But why would you ever want to stay in a world of sameness?
Middle-of-the-road (if I can even call it that; is ten years middle-length? Is 25 old enough to have this discourse? Am I really in the middle of anything, or is this one long road that I’ve barely even began to cross?) love is one that we don’t often hear about, unless it’s under the context of staleness and boredom. Thankfully, for me, that hasn’t been the case. With my own tenure, ten years has felt like quite a long time and impossibly short, all at once.
While we might be collectively interested in relationship jump-starts, I’m in love with this mid-kindling. I wish we could all walk this path, taking in the sights and smelling all the late-bloomed roses: this amazing, complex, sturdy journey of middles. Sure—we’re young and in love, but we’re also seasoned and practiced. Delicious and dependable, plump and fragrant and so familiar.
Some day, I might look back on this season of life and covet it the way we all tend to do with the earliest days. I hope I do, and that I remember the sweetness of surprise stops at the grocery store for my favorite kind of chocolate, that playful look I receive when I’m caught putting on Chad’s sweatpants, the need for skin-to-skin contact immediately before bed in order to sleep soundly, that delightful moment of relief when we both want to order food instead of cook.
I wonder: years later, will I remember the anxiety of waiting for Chad to let me know he made it safely to work on snowy mornings? The dozens of little thoughts and phrases that we exchange, taking on each other’s personalities and wearing them like a favorite pair of overalls? His hair that’s too long and covers his eyes and the way I say he needs a haircut, but I quietly and unapologetically love it anyway?
Chad and I have an extensive catalogue of memories and experiences that we’ve shared, filed under “been there, done that.” We exchange quiet, smug looks and understanding glances and an entire lexicon of understanding just with eye contact. We share juicy gossip like a double-fisted handful of gummy bears, loving to share as much as we love to hoard.
We love new things too. New experiences drive us. We long for them, for travel and places and hikes and camping and plans that we have yet to make. When we get out and do things, we are happy and exhilarated and know that there’s no one else we’d rather adventure with. And that feeling of going home, after the excitement, is almost as tasty and fulfilling and delightful as the activity, even if we keep that between us.
Do you know the feeling, when you’re sad and crying and lamenting and retreating completely into your fears and you have this guttural instinct: I wish I were home? This season of love, many years deep, is knowing that Chad is my home and always will be. He’s the edge of the pool when I’m in too deep, when my hands grasp for safety. I could have never imagined this fine-tuned automation when I wrote my first love letters to him and thought love looked like “Woman Crush Wednesday” posts and flowers at my locker.
We might hear more about those beautiful firsts and initial journeys into love, but I promise to always shout about mine, regardless.
Happy (belated) Valentine’s Day to Chad. My tried and true, lovely and practiced, gorgeously seasoned husband. I love being stuck in the middle with you.