i was going to write about how many things i did with one hand today (an impressive number, plus i used my toes to pick up an absurd number of things during handless moments), but when i sat down, it didn't feel like what i wanted.
this memory felt like what i wanted and then i worried that no one would care about hearing about it. it's not relatable like being a new mom and it's mushy and i feel like people connect best over difficulty rather than joy. but in the quest to be authentic (if you can stomach such a word), here i am, doing just exactly what i want to do, plus or minus (plus plus plus) a million caveats.
in 2014, i met nic in person for the first time, after being in touch long distance for a little over a month. it was the day i anticipated since the moment i long distance decided i loved him and also the day one of my best friends said those fateful words, "what if you're about to meet the father of your children?" (i've written about that a million times, but will never stop, because i remember so few things, but that moment is crystalline in my memory. i somehow knew it was true and also feared letting myself believe it).
his flight was delayed, painfully, but i went to the airport a million hours early anyway. i wore this horrible plasticky grey dress that i can't decide why i ever owned, nor why i chose to wear it to meet the proclaimed future father of my children. i questioned that outfit over and over while i paced, went to the bathroom a thousand times, brushed my teeth in the airport bathroom a thousand times, reapplied my chapstick three thousand times, checked my phone one trillion times, and eventually settled on sitting next to a trash can doing the crossword to pass the time. why a trash can? i will never know, except it seemed like a safe place to hide so maybe i could see him first.
i didn't see him first. he texted me that he was on his way and then was suddenly just there. he was the person i'd always known but hadn't met. he was a mess of hair and he smelled like musky lavender and i wanted to both maul him and run away at the same time. we hugged an awkward hug, full of bags and purses. and then he dropped all his things and said something like, let's try that again, and then, let's get a look at you, while he twirled me around.
he twirled me.
when was the last time i was twirled? when, if ever, had i been twirled in my life? why did it feel so magical, so totally effortless?
i have no idea, still, how many girls nic has twirled in his life, but i can honestly say i do not care, because that was my twirl and it was everything. it sealed my fate. i felt present, beautiful, electric. i felt like everything a woman has ever wanted to feel in someone else's eyes.
two or three days later, he came back from a hike with a friend, met me at the restaurant where i worked, and told me he had something for me. he seemed anxious about it. he said it again and again. what on earth could this twirler have gotten that made him so seemingly breathless?
i pried for clues, but he wouldn't tell me what it was.
when we got back to my apartment, he showed me.
it was a heart-shaped rock he'd found. he told me he'd be thinking it would be nice to find a heart-shaped rock for me and then there one was in the dirt. he presented it to me with such reverence.
i have never loved any gift more in my life, especially because, unbeknownst to him, my parents, now married 50 years, scour the beaches of santa barbara for heart-shaped rocks for their own collection.
a week ago, nic came home from a trip and told me there was something for me in his bag. i asked if i'd know what it was when i saw it and he said yes, so i dug through the piles of clothes and found three little heart rocks lying in the bottom of his rollerboard.
none of this is to say anything except... i am in love.
i am in love and a good majority of the time, i forget. i'm emotional and tired and insecure and i'm short with nic, because it's easy and so safe. it is so terribly easy to be unkind to the people who are kindest to us.
but sometimes i see a pile of heart rocks, collected over the years, sitting on my dresser, and i can stop long enough to see how lucky i am to be with someone, who sees me, who wants to stop and get a look at me.
i had a baby with that man. he is the father of my child. he is gone at least half the time, flying planes, staying in hotels, traveling the world. and i never, ever worry that he's not all the way mine, that he'll come home, that we have his heart.
tonight, we were on the phone and he said, on a scale of 1 to 100, guess how much i love melby. and then he blurted out 110. and on a scale of 1 to 100, guess how much i love you. and then, 110.
we have problems. we fight. we get petty. we disagree. sometimes we hurt each other. but at the end of the day, i chose a guy, who will twirl me and gather heart rocks from across the world and love me off the charts.
it got me here. he got me here. we have worked for our love and worked at our love and, so far, it's turned out to be pretty darn great.
and that's what i'm feeling today. gratitude for a twirl that ended up with us having the cutest baby in the world. that's big. i'm living big and i didn't even realize it. and who knows what could happen next?