When I first saw his face on an old company photo, I thought, “Hey. He’s cute.”
But long hair, tattoos and plugs aren’t really the known norm for “cute”, especially for a conservatively bred chinita, which I am. So some people didn’t understand why I would think that. Some people don’t understand it still. And though I put on my most nonchalant face every single day since we’ve been together, that thought always tugged at me from the back of my mind.
As much as I hate to admit it, it bothered me when people looked at us, even if they were just looking. So many “why’s” had already been asked; a fire had been ignited; and now every small thing about us would bother me. Every look felt like judgment. Every small issue felt like a big deal. But they didn’t know about us. They still don’t.
I wanted to keep us for ourselves. Nobody had to know. Our terms of endearment, our favorite places, our quirky conversations, our comfortable silences, our ups and downs, our shared dreams and hopes… they were all just for us. Nobody had to know.
But people wanted to know. People had to know and I was afraid. I felt that the more they knew, the more they would judge, and try to change things.
People can paint pictures of you in their minds: who you are to them, who they hope you could be or expect you to be, who they think you should be with. And when you act differently from that picture – not bad, just different – they can immediately think something is wrong and try to change things so that you fit into their picture.
But we are not a picture. We are real.
When we share each other’s struggles and rejoice in each other’s triumphs;
When we do things for each other, even if difficult or inconvenient;
When he tells me to stop worrying and I tell him to think things through;
When he pats me playfully on the head when I’m overthinking again,
and I squeeze him tight to let him know how much he means to me;
When we say “I love you” and mean it–
We are real.
It’s been four years since I first saw his face on that old photo, which I must admit is surprising to me because I was so conscious of all the other “pictures” around us. But I know now that those pictures don’t really matter. They will fade, in time. Or they will be replaced by new pictures. But he and I will still be who we are. We’ll make mistakes, overcome obstacles, ignore pictures or care about them too much; but we’d still be who we are. Real, in love, and loving each other.
And nobody will really know about us but us, and that’s okay.
And who knows? Maybe now, in the smallest way, maybe…
…Now they will know.
*About this post: I wrote this about a year ago on our (me and my ninja in the pictures above) third year as a couple and published it on a group blog, which has since disappeared. I thought this post disappeared with it, but quite fortuitously one of the bloggers in that group was able to fish it out of limbo, just in time for our fourth anniversary. I’ve edited it a bit to reflect the present, and chose to publish it now on my personal blog as… something of an ode to our relationship so far, I suppose. <3