> jumping into life.

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So. The story.

It'll be three years in December since we met. My biology class was held adjacent to his geology class; my class joined his for a guest lecture about I have no idea what. I saw him across the room, and that was that. Seriously. I stared at him that whole day and for about two weeks longer, and then when I saw him at the bar on the last day of classes, I made him buy me a drink and then took him home. We've been home ever since.

So. Three years since we met. Since it was a love-at-first-sight affair, that'll be three years that we've been in love. There is that ugly gash in the middle, of course, but I never stopped loving him. He never stopped loving me.

A year ago this week I proposed to him, on one knee, with a ring I bought in the Dallas airport. That was an early step towards closing that space between us; he said no. Or, more accurately, he said not yet.

The other day, my mother asked what it's like to live with him, and I didn't really have an answer. It's like living with myself, mostly. Not that he is like me, or that our domestic habits are the same, or that there has been no conflict over the doing of dishes or the sweeping of floors - far from it. In fact, we fight over dishes more than anything else. It is like living with myself because it feels fundamentally natural, fundamentally comfortable.

I do not ascribe to the idea that partnership is the highest ideal of the human condition; in fact, I think it's a damn shame and damaging that it is so often portrayed that way, that so many young adults (and adult adults) focus all their energy on finding a boyfriend/girlfriend/lover/mate and don't take the time to get to know themselves. I think it's a damn shame that I spent so much time myself casting nets and regretting them, thinking I could only interact with men by seducing them, thinking I could only interact with women by competing. I think at least half the reason my months in the monastery were so relieving/reviving/revelatory was that I had chosen to be celibate. That year of celibacy, imperfect as it was, broke into pieces many of my assumptions about myself. I discovered the incredible freedom of opting out of the whole game. Not snaring, not sniping. I discovered that I didn't know how to cultivate platonic intimacy with men; that if I didn't act on my attractions they shifted rapidly and radically; that if I didn't self-identify as sexy, I didn't quite know who I was.

It was terrifying and wonderful. And at the end of it, I moved across the country to propose to the man I loved.

When I say love at first sight, I'm not being glib. I would have married him our first night together. And when I say loving him is like loving myself, I mean that it is hard and I have no choice. We talk about being voodooed, bewitched. When I say I was a widow without him, I mean it.

I flew out from California a year ago this week, to see if we were still us, and we were. We went on a hike up a nearby mountain and talked about our future. We decided I'd move out in January and we'd try to build a life together.

A year later, we went on a hike up the same mountain, to the view at the top, and he pulled a ring out of his pocket and proposed.

I said yes.

The ring was my mother's, given to her by her father when he returned from a tour of duty in Iran. The stone is alexandrite, the national jewel of Czarist Russia. It changes color: lavender in incandescent light, blue in the sun, deep blood-red under candlelight. It is supposed to increase my intuition.

In this case, at least, I think my intuition served me pretty well.

oh my gosh, such a beautiful story. plus with your writing skills, it only made the goosebump factor that much better!! thanks for sharing :)

P.S. i only knew you for one week (on spring break in virginia), but my husband and i have been following your life through this blog ever since. wow i think that was 2003!!

CONGRATS ON YOUR ENGAGEMENT!! your patience paid off in a big big way.

Spring break in Virginia! I'd totally forgotten about that trip--I think it might even have been 2002. I'd love to know which one of the awesome people from that group you are, and I can't believe you've been reading here all this time!

Thanks for your congratulations, too!

Congratulations! You sound happy. Thanks for sharing the story; of course I was curious.

the day after you made him buy you a drink, you drove to mine on your way home for thanksgiving. you were too hungover to have a beer with me, the paltry reasoning being that you had informed some guy you fancied that he was to buy you a drink, which i was annoyed about at the time because that was the first time we had seen one another since i had turned 21.

you may now consider yourself forgiven.

i love you. -n

Nika, darlin, the next time we're in the same time zone, we can get shnockered together. Thanks for forgiving me, though.

cc, thanks. ;)

Thank you for sharing your personal story after being requested for such. I cried through reading it (I thought about not admitting that but figured if you can be vulnerable enough to tell your story publicly then I can be honest enough to admit my response). What a gift for us to see the purity, the tenacity, the bounty of the love you share. Thanks so much for making us part of the story.

Oh my darling Caitlin, I am sitting here at my desk overcome with tears of joy as I flash on the little girl that, together with my own little girl, brought two young families together for a lifetime of friendships.I am thankful for those two little girls and that continue to teach me and enrich me and fill me with pride. I love you very much!

Valerie! Hi! I had no idea you read this thing. Thanks so much. It has been one of those long, strange trips, hasn't it?

A beautiful story indeed. I love that you say you would have married him that first night.

(I also love the name of your blog.)

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