The arguments and counter-arguments and counter-counter-arguments are out there, I do not have to relay them here, for you and I have seen them played out in countless melodramas and romcoms and heard them fervently defended by the lovelorn and lovestruck alike. You and I both know the for's and against's all too well.
Films driven by neat closure urge us that it is true, that it is possible (i.e., "Hurry! Buy that diamond so you might perpetuate an amoral industry!"); leftover free-love ideologies preach the improbabilities of monogamy, appealing to our baser instincts, touting unbounded love for any and all creatures that come our way as the means for emotional salvation; and, probably most powerfully, generational cynicism (i.e., that seemingly requisite postmodern skepticism) demands belief in the inescapable monad: that we are all locked within ourselves and attempts at finding a genuine, human connection only serve to further obscure our true selves, as we desperately craft ourselves in the image of an Other.
Why, then, am I here? Why, then, do I find myself within something the world purports to be imaginary?
When I see him, no matter how long it has been since I last saw him, an intense pressure courses through my veins: it begins somewhere around my Achilles heel and terminates at the center of my forehead, then gently spreads (that gentle slathering one conducts when putting warm margarine onto toast) across my entire face, convulsing me into an interminable grin. My respiratory system experiences shallow and labored oxygen intake and intense heartbeat-related irregularities. The above happens in the blink of an eye, but it seems an infinity.
Interactions with him result in a total pneumatic overhaul: as microseconds together turn into milliseconds, then full seconds, then minutes, my typical narrative-based view of the world dissipates. Instead, I exist; as improbably as it would seem for someone like me, I actually get to just be, to experience the world in all of its beauty, to carefully intake each awe-inspiring molecule of the landscape scene before me seemingly emanating from his being, as though the world is a halo to his angelic figure. (This is really how I see him; this is what my corneas translate the visual input of him and his surroundings into.)
When we touch, the balance between our fleshes lends definition to the pneumatic sensations that build exponentially. This is simultaneously visceral and psychological: a transference occurs; or, better: a projection. As his strong hands grasp me, I am made aware of our similarities and differences, and that contrast is projected onto the skyscape of my skull’s ceiling: I see in vibrant, mind-boggling color and detail what an incredible human being he is: he is mature (in ways I can barely comprehend; he understands how to love and how to treat another human being with gentility, kindness and respect, and even more astoundingly, he can do this completely genuinely); he is trustworthy (for I could not have the amount of faith I hold for us without knowing with certainty that he is right there with me, as unflinchingly as I am for him); he is able to handle, with grace, whatever comes his way (and good Lord, he has been through Hell and back; he has undergone unspeakable cruelties in his life that make me wish with every neuron that I could invent a mental machine powerful to remove those pains from his consciousness; and yet even if I could, he would urge me not to, for even as I childishly wish to take away that hurt, he wisely understands that it was necessary to help him become who he is today); and every day I wish to embody these characteristics he so effortlessly holds (and even that is an inaccurate description, for I am sure it is not effortless: it must require an unimaginable amount of strength and willpower to maintain those characteristics, and yet I watch him do it every day, and it seems effortless; that is how Beautiful he is; that is what he inspires me to try to be). I know he would contest much of this (and I won’t continue to wax poetic on his virtues, for I do not wish to embarrass him, although he knows that I could for lifetimes on end), but I can only speak the truth when it comes to him. He knows that, too. If it did not feel like melodramatic hyperbole, I would say: “He is perfect.”
But he and I have spoken of this, and we both know that neither of us is perfect.
What is the perfect human, anyway? There must be some Platonic ideal, if we are to allow the grotesque word “imperfection” to pervade our collective lexicon.
The etymological origin of the word “perfect” is the Latin perfectus, which means “to finish.” Thus, to be perfect is to be finished, complete, to have reached an ending, to exist in that terminal Aristotelian moment after which nothing more can follow. Is it not true, then, that we can only attain perfection in death? Is it not true, then, that we are imperfect so long as we are alive?
My fingers stumble upon certain physical curiosities (he bears a deep eight-inch scar at the bottom of his ribcage, for example), which one would normally call “imperfections;” it is the word that springs to mind; it is what they are known as, to the objective observer. But I choose to see these indentations and protrusions as imperfectus, incompletes: tangible manifestations of our inherent pneumatic gaps and strengths: reminders that he is as of yet still un-finished, that I am as of yet still un-finished: that as his and my seconds intersect we together approach a Wholeness impossible to attain apart.
My fingers trace these incompletes with an avid curiosity, some sensation similar to static electricity tricking down my back passes from body to body, the narcissistic, selfish, juvenile "I" supplanted by a warmly glowing, selflessly auspicious "we," the "we" that is he and I, the continuous "we," without center and without edges.
[image of two interlocked puzzle pieces]
And like the puzzle pieces, our vision is limited. We cannot see what the puzzle piece that will fit into us looks like; we can only jam ourselves into another piece and hope that it is a match. He and I have been through this process before, with other puzzle pieces, with unsatisfactory results.
But if we fall into place with the right piece, the macro-image is irrelevant. Presenting a picture to a viewer does not matter. What matters is feeling, in every moment that we enter into each other, the nuanced edges of his mind/body/soul touching mine, of mine touching his. Into his pneumatic concavities, I can enter and show him what he may not yet have seen. And his abundant pneumatic convexities can enter into me, and teach me how to grow into a better person.
For this, I can only thank him. For this, I am forever indebted.
But even with all of this under our belts, even with all the above analysis at our disposal, how can I claim this is anywhere close to a comprehensive answer? Even having described so much, I still feel infinitely far from being able to pinpoint exactly why the love I feel for him is incredibly powerful. And isn't is possible that this true love really is an unanswerable question? That no matter how meticulously we trace the emotional/psychical/visual inputs that lead to the endorphinic raptures true love is known to bring, we can still get no closer to a satisfactory answer to “Why?"
I feared saying I-love-you to him. He spoke the words first (and in retrospect, it couldn’t have happened any other way) and convulsed forth in me the reciprocal. I meant it. It was sheer terror, to hear (and see) the words, that day, in his room, as we stood together, leaning against his bed, holding each other close. Those words! Coming from me! From jaded, unmoveable me! But that’s precisely it, the reason for the spontaneous bout of delirium, for the confusion and convolution: what “me” is now is not what “me” was before I said those words to him.
We all hold multiple selves beyond our surfaces: we undergo marked changes as we age that convert us from one version to the next (an update, salvation from obsolescence). From whence, then, do these updates spawn? How do our consciousnesses evolve? I am positive modern cognitive science can offer us a neurochemical explanation, but even at its most accurate, it would hardly be satisfying.
I instead offer this: each of our thoughts is an Event. “I should eat something” is an Event, as is, “I should really go to the doctor this week,” as is, “How could I have done that?!” as is, “I am going to become an astronaut.” Each of these are single Events in the series of events and Events that comprise our lifetime. Some Events are relatively inconsequential, just like actual lowercase-e events: the event of chewing gum is far less pertinent than the event of finding out one is going to become a mother, as too the Event of I-want-gum is far less potent than the Event of I-am-pregnant. But never have I encountered an Event with such life-changing power as the I-love-you event. In that moment I changed. I ceased being the cynical, tired, emotionless “me” and I was converted. He updated me. He saved me. The event of him telling me he loved me inspired me in the I-love-you Event that changed everything.
Even among my immediate family and friends, I never felt truly loved. Instead, I watched people who claimed to love me say, “I’m sorry,” and, “...but I still love you,” while I nodded my head and wondered what those empty phrases really meant. I said the words, “I love you,” to people who didn’t deserve it because it seemed simple enough to mimic others’ oral movements and emit the same sounds they so readily let out. And what made our relationship feel entirely novel was discovering that someone truly did love me.
But what I am realizing is that I have never loved before. That I had never said those words with meaning behind them. Until him. He is the first person I have ever loved. And because of him, I have found myself starting to feel love (albeit a different kind of love) for others. I feel a wonderfully sibling-like love for the girl (now a woman) that I consider my little sister; I feel longing and a unfamiliar filial love for my mother and father, whom I miss for the first time in my entire life; and I even feel a new warmth toward my biological father, a desire to form a functional relationship with him. Our love has spread through my entire life. Our love is all-encompassing, all-powerful.
Our love inspires me. Our love moves me.
He knows I love him. I know he loves me.
And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
So why this now? Why am I speaking of all of this multiple months after the fact, why did I not articulate this in the Moment Of?
One has found something remarkable when the immediate instinct is to shout it from the rooftops, but one can recognize something groundbreaking (something altogether unprecedented, unknown) when instead the compulsion is to desperately shelter it: to swaddle it within one’s bosom: to raise it as one’s own child: to protect it and allow it to grow, safely (tenderly), until it can blossom into the sublime.
You are my soulmate.
I will care for our love until it is perfect. I will care for us ‘til death.
I love you.