|Breathe in; breathe out.|
I'll start with leaving Charlotte. I have never, ever cried the way I cried then. I was in public, having to take three flights (CLT-ATL, ATL-DUB, DUB-LCY), and unable to control the way the tears coursed down my cheeks. I cried every time we took off, and every time we landed. Every single flight. I could barely find my way around the airport at Charlotte, and in Atlanta was unable to read my texts due to the unshed tears clouding my eyes. It was the most ridiculous thing I think I've ever experienced, and I didn't care. I was bereft, missing my heart, unable to cope with the reality of five months without Ben.
This may seem like a soppy exaggeration, or perhaps a sad indictment of a clearly soft-hearted person's inability to deal with the inevitable, or with reality. But the thing is, I'm actually quite "male" when it comes to emotion, normally! Ben is the exception to my usually forward-thinking, Filofax-brained cognition. I do not question me and Ben, we just are. This flies in the face of my neuroscience and evolution based education and beliefs. There isn't "the one" person for everyone, that just isn't possible. We mate to continue the species (and because we are therefore biologically rewarded for doing so), and marriage exists because of social convention, variances of which can be explained by cultural differences. But I am in love with a man who is the one for me, and I want to marry him because I want to be his wife. I am a human being, and I feel able to exist in this total contradiction of beliefs and actions - in fact, not just able, but more human because of this.
In Birmingham, saying goodbye after months of summer together and the night prior to Ben's flight spent trying to stay awake, eking out every last moment we had, was equally awful, though with a few extra fun things: we didn't know how long it would take for my visa to process (and so how long it would be until we were together again), had had so much time together we had become even closer, and I had to drive the 80 minute journey home alone, having just said goodbye to my love for goodness knew how long. I think the post I wrote just after Ben left pretty much covers the rest of how I felt, but I simply wanted to collapse. I felt winded, sick, and lost. I just wanted it to not be real.
This post is not meant to be an effort to convince myself of why I am going (and I don't think it comes across that way), but more so that I don't forget the intense difficulty of being apart from the one man to whom I am so inexorably connected. I am aware that we're two people, and the fact that love is a subjective thing. But I don't actually really care about that so much any more. You see, Ben is more than just a boy I fell in love with. He changed the world for me, and made it into something I had always wished for but never truly believed in. I can't explain what not being with him does to me. I will never be able to thank him enough, love him enough, have words enough to express just how magical life is with him in it.
Below is an excerpt from the speech I gave at our engagement party (yes, it was a bloody long speech! 9 minutes, if I remember rightly). This is the closest I've ever been to summing it up - sort of - as it's too hard to really explain, especially as a reformed cynic.
"Leah [our best 'man'] affectionately refers to you as "Harry", because of your likeness to the famous wizard of J.K. Rowling's imagination. Notwithstanding jokes about wands (or robes and hats, for that matter), I have to agree with your magical associations. You make me see the world anew, as though there is a light on it now that wasn't there before. It's not clearer, not warmer, even; I just know you're there – where the light is.
You once said to me that love is music. You’re right – and you are music... that's the best way I can describe how I feel about you. You're there, underlying, fundamental. You are there, exciting, exhilarating, evolving. There's a surge of joy, of understanding, of being that only comes from being with you, being in your presence and being yours. I have always been the sort of person for whom every occasion has a song. As it turns out, there is one song for every occasion in my life. The song is you. Your music illustrates, illuminates, adds to and makes life as it should be.
Put simply: I have never smiled the way I do when I am with you. I am so lucky, so excited, and so alive knowing that I get to spend my life with you. It will be really living. I can't even begin to start thanking you."
I'm also pretty sure that, on the day, it came out nothing like these carefully penned words; I was pretty emotional and - despite years of classroom teaching - unable to hold it together well enough to make my voice stop shaking and my eyes welling up. But this is what I meant to say. Being with Ben, being his, is as easy and as necessary as breathing to me.
I love you; take a right.