The breadth of this topic means I could have written to lots of people, but it just feels most accurate to write to you because of how much you’ve taught me since February. I recently read somewhere on the interwebz the line, “I don’t want to come out of a relationship feeling like I haven’t changed much,” and regardless of the misalignment between the levels of seriousness with which each of us regarded this, I’ve certainly changed a lot. Maybe I’ll expand this to include things I learned about myself via being with you, which may not be the exact same thing as you teaching me, but oh well.
I learned that if grown-ass-woman-Maya wanted someone badly enough, I could take action steps to get from Point A to Point B with said person; I hadn’t been brave enough to do that since I was little just-barely-a-teenager-Maya. You taught me what it feels like to be swept off my feet. You reintroduced me to anticipation and infatuation, 12-year-old schoolgirl style: will I see him today? Is he gonna text me? What will he say? I learned to prioritize something that was bigger than just me, even if my friends thought I was crazy. I learned to dismiss my friends’ opinions/advice, which I hope I have unlearned just as quickly.
I learned a new level of happiness, a level that evidently constantly showed on my face and got commented on all the time. You helped me see that striving for independence doesn’t mean I can’t ask for help in moments of need. You taught me that my ex (before you) may have been right on two counts: 1) that I just might have been a nympho waiting to happen, and 2) that the best thing two people can do in bed is to wake up together. You taught me the bliss that comes from waking up happy with the arm of a man I adore slung around my ribcage in casual protection, and that there are better reasons than schoolwork to only get three hours of sleep. There were more tangible things: you taught me how to two-step, that Campus Club sells $2 milkshakes, and that the ears are a very erogenous zone (among various other lessons in physics and anatomy that we learned together). I learned new levels of physical comfort, both with myself and with another person. I learned how to stretch the tiniest events as far as they could go, a whole new version of time management.
You taught me that I was wrong about myself in so many ways: I’d always abhorred cutesy, gagged at over-the-top romance. I always told myself I never wanted anything like that, but from the moment you gave it to me, I reveled in it. You taught me that, against everything I’d ever believed, in my heart of hearts all I want is a routine of togetherness, regularly shared meals and molding myself to fit into someone else’s shape night after night. I know now that you never meant to, but you taught me how to dive into love: to weigh the options upon the shore and make the conscious decision to Get. In. The. Water! [Notebook reference]. Even if the two-way street was only a very well-put-together mirage, you taught me how it feels to be in love. With you, I learned to abandon all but my most important reservation: reservedness about my reservations; I’m working on it in your absence. I wish I had learned how to tell you when I was worried; instead, I learned to put my worries on the back burner and live half in the moment and half in a larger picture my silly little heart had concocted. I learned to be carefree in a glorious but potentially dangerous way. I learned trust and security at deeper levels than ever before, in the I wanted to put all of me in a box with a bow on it and give it to you and say This is yours now, take care of it, and I remembered again what it was to want to share myself with someone completely.
I have since learned the true value of honesty, the sting of hypocrisy, and what exactly constitutes a lie. I have learned to be more open in my questioning. I have learned that a person’s intentions have no true bearing on the effects of their actions on others, and am in the process of learning which component (the intentions or the effects) hold more weight in the course of this life we live, which I should value more. I have relearned the weight of shattered expectations, along with how to hurt, how to feel like I’ve been fooled, how to be furious, how to doubt, how to blame, and how to over-analyze (though I’m sure I never forgot that last one).
Most recently, I am learning to enjoy the memories of the past for what they were when they were, and to not try to tear them apart by applying later feelings. I am learning to stomp out dread with determination. I am learning to reprioritize myself. I am learning to forgive.
It seems only appropriate to end with
my our girl India:
Let’s shake free this gravity of resentment
And fly high, and fly high
You’re only human
Let’s shake free this gravity of judgment
And fly high on the wings of forgiveness
I’ve searched for romance
Flowers and affection
What I found is a lesson
Of what love really is
Found the game of love is
Not about how much you can take
In fact authentic love is about
How much you can give
I wanna let you know you taught me how to fly
And I wrote this song to tell you this
I’m better cuz you taught me how to give“