this is Gunnar and I.
So I’m sitting out on my front porch, staring at the stars, wondering what he is up to right now, and as I inhale the late summer time breeze, I’m taken back to a memory that took place not even five feet from where I sit now. May 21, 2011. It comes alive as i shut my eyes, inhale deeply, and remember the sound of laughter, mixed and multiple conversations and the sight of cheap party decorations, a graduation cake and the smell of my mom’s fried chicken in the garage. There I am, sitting across from a boy who only caught my eye once before, but who holds my gaze captive for the entire night. “Marines” he tells me. That’s where he’s headed. “Army” I reply, stumbling over my words as I push some macaroni salad across my plate, occasionally stealing a quick glance at him, trying to hide a faded blush and smile.
You wouldn’t have known it then, and neither would I, I suppose, but that simple banter led up to a romance neither of us would have expected to birth. Fast forward a couple hours and we are sitting in my quickly cleaned, yet unkempt room, my friends on the floor, jokes being told that no one will remember a year later, but there he sits on my bed holding the love of my life, quickly taking a call from his dad. My niece tries to steal his cake; she’s three months old and already developing a sweet tooth and a hunger to lay claim to what isn’t even hers to possess nor digest, but he humors her, bouncing her on his knee, tickling her occasionally.
it was then that I knew. I knew, that some part of me fell in love with that part of him. I knew that I wasted my heart, body and emotions on those who did not deserve it; I knew I wasted them on someone who was not him. You can’t really explain it; hell, I couldn’t explain it myself even if I tried, but despite my efforts to verbalize what I knew in that moment, I know the feelings never changed. I know that I loved him in that moment just as I love him now, thankful and forever grateful that that part of him still exists. That part of him the Marine Corps never took away because it’s been a year and he still humors her just as he did back then. And though it was a year ago, I still fall in love with that part of him over and over again, as if time never moved on, as if January 17 never came and he never left, like we stayed in that moment, like it was all we would ever be capable of living in, in a moment where only absolute truth existed and doubt never reared it’s ugly face and tormented heart. For once it was nice to be sure of something.
Days passed by after that party and our friendship steadily grew into more, hungering for something more, yet unsure of what it would be. Walks around the blocks that I wished would never cease, star gazing and me mentally begging -to no avail- that morning should only delay itself another day. Then there were walks on the beach that ended to soon, despite the fact that I couldn’t keep up with his fast paced gate, just as he couldn’t keep up with my fast paced train of thought and speech.
Day after day texts were sent, pulses increased at the sight of an unread message, plans were made and dates became a regular occurrence. A fresh, white, peony flower, not quite ready to blossom, rested in a glass one night. The night of Midnight Moonlight as we referred to it. The night we walked on the beach at Midnight, by the light of the full moon. We buried ourselves in a sand trench laughing, talkin about our pasts, present and futures, something to fill the awkward gaps of silence. And then there was laughter, so loud and hearty that you’d have thought we robbed the world of its joy and kept it all to ourselves, letting it erupt in to the night sky in different pitches. Tickling each other, rolling around in the sand until he had me pinned.
He leaned over me, pinning my arms over my head, his heavy breathing begging for a break and ribs aching from Warrior Training, but his eyes, a light brown with a hint of green, powerful, sweet, playful and inviting, begging me to kiss him. I wanted him, and all the safety and security that he could offer. I wanted his kind lips against mine, his joy to permeate my soul, his laughter to ring in my ear and lull me to sleep every night, his smile to assure me when all things fell apart as fate always seems find a weak moment for it to do so, and I wanted his sweet smell to stay on my clothes and to never abandon me.To say I wanted him sexually would be an absolute false accusation, but I did want the most intimate parts of his soul to intertwine and get tangled up with mine in a complex and romantic fashion, so complex that it would be beyond repair.
Our curfews warranted our return home, so at the door, despite my innermost wishes, he hugged me and said goodnight. As I gently walked back to my room, feeling as if I hovered above the carpet, I noticed something. The white peony -the flower that the tall, gangly boy had stolen from a neighbors garden- whose petals were shut tight, refusing to open up to a cruel world aching for joy and leaving the world to attempt to appreciate it’s form of innocence and purity, had fully blossomed and had filled my room with a soft yet rich perfume that stayed for 2 weeks time. One inhale was what finally made me realize it was time to let my ex go.
It was the following day that I officially left Jon. We gave it three years, and I gave it a life time of emotion. It was over before it had begun, but neither of us could own up to a third failure. He knew he couldn’t give me what I wanted. Time. Time to cultivate a romance with seeds that clearly were not meant to prosper. Time to invest into another’s life. Time to learn about each other, time to talk about intimate things like life, time to really…figure out what we were.
I will never know why he longed to keep me despite the times i ran away, nor why I desperately clung to him, as if I needed to always have a sense of familiar despite my lack of happiness. I will also never know what he wanted from me, but I do know, and will always remember, what I never received from him.
Laughter was a stranger to us, same with communication, understanding, and the desire to pursue something honorable in life. He was a lost soul searching for someone who would never give up on him, and I was a runner, someone who wouldn’t stop running, no matter the direction, always in search of someone who would run with me against all odds. Maybe that’s why he wanted me, because I made him feel wanted, or because I was something that always needed to be chased, but the thing is, sometimes our heart knows something before our mind does. Mine knew that Gunnar, in all of his kindness and oddities, truly would give me what I needed, not just what I hoped for or wanted.
He changed my life that summer. Almost every moment was with him, and even when we were apart, he was the sunrise, the sunset, and the stars above. For the longest time, I felt safe even if he wasn’t near. That was one thing he gave me, even in his absence, security and protection.
And even now, almost a year later, engaged to be married, yet separated by the military, he still gives me the gift of security. No, I can’t see him when I’d like, and our time together is not at our disposal as it once was, but despite the miles in between, we make it work. We stay close. And I know, no matter how long we are apart, separated by cities or seas, I will always want the most intimate parts of him to entangle themselves with my own, not for pleasure, but for love. And yes, we are waiting til marriage and yes, sometimes I wish we weren’t, but I’ve waited 19 yrs to fall in love with someone as rare as him - though in my youth I never would have dreamed he’d be in existence or that I’d be sitting here now walking through memory lane - and I’ve waited just as long to find someone who truly was made for me. So surely I can wait another couple years to give him me, in every form.
I’ve been told that I can lose him in battle or that his job may cost him a leg, an arm, or maybe two of each, but death, as powerful as it is, can never separate the love of soul mates. It’s not every day you find a heart that genuinely beats for the sake of someone’s heart, joy, smile or life in general, but when you find it, you know that no matter what the years of war or peace may bring, that love, that burning passion will never reduce to embers so long as you remind yourself how the journey started. I would love him even if he had no arms to hold me, no legs to tangle with my own, no hands to wipe away tears or hold his future child, or even if he could no longer see through those beautiful eyes that see me at my worst and still find reason to love me. I’d marry him even if I had to sit on his lap in a wheel chair for our first dance. I would, you know. And I’d hope he’d do the same.
The simple comforts of this love are these: despite either of our locations, the same starry sky is above us, the same sun will rise and fall, and the love between us two will never fade. And just as I was sure of my love for him that night as he held my niece, I’m sure of this now: time will carry us apart, but even though time ages the body, it doesn’t truly age the love. It makes it wiser and more cautious, but future time cannot alter the past. And I’m sure that nothing time could do to me in the future, could change or erase the moment I knew I first loved him. Time can’t do that. It can delay, by seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, or years, but it can’t erase the truth we’ve built in stone, nor the memories and emotions we engrave in our hearts.
p.s. I’m enlistin in the USMC as well :)