Choosing to Stay
It was an 8pm roadtrip along the pacific highway where he first fought for me. I knew by the time we’d crossed 200 miles and returned back to the LA city limits that I was going to stay.
We’ve been freefalling in long, lingering glances and forehead kisses and steady assurances. Every day he reminds me why he fought so hard and I remind him that I’m staying—that he is the closest I’ve ever come to knowing exactly what I want from my life.
When I first looked up my personality type online, it said the perfectionism that often guides, and sometimes poisons, my life often gets crossed over into my romantic life too. It claimed I’m the type who would hold out for something that seemed like a fairytale before investing all of my energy into it. It said my love would go deep, but not wide. I’d have to find my version of perfection before I’d let myself ever commit to trying.
When Tyler looked up my personality type, he saw the woman he’d been dating woven into every sentence. She was hesitant, unsure, up and down and back and forth. She was finding every reason to doubt that he could be worth that energy, worth exploring that deep, certain kind of love for.
But he didn’t run away from the rollercoaster. He buckled in for the ride and promised to hold on until it finally slowed to a stop.
There is only one thing I have ever imagined myself being in the future. I’ve imagined myself in coffee shops and at desks and in hotel rooms with a notebook, a pen, a laptop, and dozens of mugs of old coffee. I’ve imagined signing book deals, seeing my name in print, listening to the words that came out of my head quoted in the voice of someone introducing me to the stage. I’ve imagined that first moment holding my book in my hands, that first hardcover edition that I’d be able to keep for the rest of my life. I’ve imagined celebrating my book’s birthday; I’ve imagined celebrating the anniversary of the first day my lifelong dream came true.
Love was a thought. Love was a distant dream. Love was swiping through Tinder and dating people who I never saw myself committing to long-term. Wanting a relationship meant I cared more about a man than my dreams. Envisioning a partner to do life with meant I wasn’t focusing on the life I could create for myself, all on my own. I didn’t want to be ‘that girl.’
But I was. And I did want someone. I just didn’t want to want someone more than I wanted what I’d always wanted—the identity I’d created for myself. A happy, free-floating, creative success.
I thought a beach wedding and a diamond ring would take away from the person I wanted to be.
I had no idea that meeting someone else could make you feel even closer to the person you want to become.
After the roadtrip, after deciding I wanted to put my energy into him, he eased me in to showing me that saying yes to him didn’t mean saying no to anything else. When I told him I wanted to do a Whole30, he offered to cook my meals. When I told him I wanted to set goals for the New Year, he went through my worksheets with me. He coaches me to speak up at my job and he reads books with me on our date nights. He reads everything I write; a magazine with my article written in it sits on his coffee table.
I’m setting loftier goals, raising the expectations for myself. Knowing he’s there, building me up, gives me a confidence I’ve never known. Knowing he’s there, a soft place to land should I fall, makes me less fearful to take risks.
Now when I dream of beach weddings, I dream of his face for the long journey ahead. Of his hands running through my hair for comfort, strong arms wrapped around me for peace, sweet guidance for moments of feeling lost, tender affection for joy. I dream of watching him succeed at all he dreams of from the sidelines. I dream of looking into a crowd and seeing him cheer me on from the front row.
I dream of being a happy, free-floating, creative success. I dream of being his.
I dream of a life that I’m already living. A life where I met a man who fought for me, and the best thing I ever did was choose to stay.