“I think you still have a little bit of lightning in you.” — Moonrise Kingdom
Lightyears ago (or what seems like lightyears), I read that relationships are not supposed to feel like hard work. They require hard work—all successful relationships do—but actually living in the relationship shouldn’t feel like a daily struggle. For some reason, this was a revolutionary idea for me. The sort that left me blinking in the sun after exiting a cool, dark room.
A friend told me the story of her first date with her husband, and it went like this: he came to pick her up on a Friday, and she never wanted him to leave.
The literary canon is full of stories about passion and heartbreak and chemistry and connection and drama and sparks and everythingchanginginaninstant. Life doesn’t always work like fiction.
I knew that something in my world was shifting when I started being weird around Jivan. The kind of whole-hearted weird that meant I said what I really thought and sang out loud and played DJ without stress and squinched up my face to “wink.” I am rarely fearless—I can be brave, with time to summon my courage—but this year, I was fearless. As I spent more hours with him, I realized that the change was not an absence of fear, but rather the presence of acceptance (which, in time, erodes fear anyway). We were not in competition; I was not holding him up; he was not changing me. He just liked me, exactly as I am, steadily.
Who knew that steadiness—surety—could move my world so dramatically?
Over the last few weekends, I’ve been helping my boyfriend move into his new apartment. This is a big deal—not the moving, but saying it, here, on this blog. I have been relatively quiet online this summer, finding it hard to gather up all the little things that shine about my summer and tell you about them.
But helping Jivan move—which involved 60s pop, ice water, Italy vs Spain, sweat, Julie & Julia, sangria, boxes, bare feet, dinner on the floor, laughing—helped me realize that little things are lightning. We moved on the hottest weekend Greenville’s seen yet, and we moved when we were both already exhausted. It could have been a crankfest, but instead, it was unusually sweet—as most things are with him.
I was never looking for him (and honestly, he was never looking for me), but that’s how lightning goes: a quick flash after a long build-up of storm, and one day, I saw.
It makes me nervous to write about relationships when they are my own. But, I tell myself, this really isn’t a story about my boyfriend. It’s a story of a hundred little hopes come true, the final deceleration of a rollercoaster that had been roaring long before Jivan came around. This is a story of steadiness, and not just his. My steadiness: I am not being moved, not bending like a birch tree under the wind.
But most importantly, this overwhelming glory of a summer is the story of a God who picked me up, whirled me through the last two years, and set me down in Greenville, city of constant surprises.
Jivan just happened to be one of them.
A pretty dang good one.