the steps of my favorite house

 I have a bunch of film to drop off today (fingers crossed I get that done) so I figure it's time to start clearing out the photos of the summer. There's a lot going on in my life right now but I don't have a whole lot to say. This weekend was warm and loving with a perfect mix of productivity and leisure. My partner and I ventured about 30 minutes west of us, where everything turns to miles of tree and cornfield. We enjoyed some whiskey, went on some long walks, and talked about our future. A month ago we started the big conversation – the one that covers moving, buying a house, and starting our life somewhere we see ourselves long term. Since our current lease renews in February, our realistic goal is 2022. I love her so much, and the love I feel for her has shown me so much about how to love myself. There is nobody else I would rather have beside me in this entire world. Change has never been my strong suit though, for as often as I've experienced it. I've moved over a dozen times in my life but never more than an hour from where I grew up. This time of year is also my busiest at work, so go ahead and pile that on with stress of the pandemic and upcoming election. I’m feeling about as uncertain about life as I possibly could. Yet each time the subject comes up, my mind is put at ease. I feel listened to and respected in ways that still feel new to me. She puts in earnest effort to show me that we're on this path together, hand-in-hand, stepping side by side the entire time. 

Growing up I remember the highly quoted Perks of Being a Wallflower line, "we accept the love we think we deserve". It always sounded like bullshit to me. It never seemed logical to think that I, a person who is admittedly bad at loving themselves, could never be seen by someone else for more than I saw myself. Everyone’s view of themselves is flawed, right? And if who I am comes with flaws and weakness, couldn’t someone be capable of loving that too? I had loved flawed people my entire life, right?

Seems I was only partially right. I have been loved despite my pain, but nobody has ever been able to love me out of it. That is because it is not possible. To be loved to the ends of the earth means nothing when you are not ready to travel to that end yourself. I am learning that feeling loved and feeling worthy are very different, often separately extracted thing. Love is blissful but it is not always sustainable. We are taught to keep love high on a pedestal where it cannot be reached our touched or tampered with. Where it is safe. This seemingly good move is actually the most weakening. Love is strongest on the ground, laid like framework. It can also easily seem like a net, or a blanket, meant to encapsulate the feelings we want more of or the feelings we want to hide. But in my experience, what’s most likely to get caught or covered in this misuse of love is ourselves. Love is durable and long-lasting when it is a steppingstone, moving us closer to that which we feel is lacking in ourselves. Worthiness, trust, communication, growth – we work for then. We put one foot in front of the other on top of the groundwork. The love my partner and I have created allows us to move forward with balance and it wouldn’t be nearly as strong if it did not exist inside us both equally. Every day she teaches me more about taking these steps without fear. Looking back on these almost-four years together, I believe we can go anywhere together.

These are a couple pictures from a walk we took over the summer. I lived in an apartment up the street for almost five years, the last of which we spent living together. This house is always my favorite one to admire, my partner so lovingly willing to stop and look each time. The houses on the block are all cute and neatly manicured but this one has a beautiful garden that reaches its apex each summer. You can tell by first glance that someone loves and cares for this garden very much. Wherever she and I end up, there will be a garden. We'll have a beautiful garden and a beautiful home built upon everything that love and care entails. I'll hold her hand tight and we'll take the steps inside.