Full disclosure: this is a birthday post for my partner. I’m pretty sure I say some stuff that is somewhat generally relevant, but the post is pretty much for her, so feel free to skim or skip.
There’s an old toast that goes something like this:
Here’s to the women!
We adore them for their beauty,
Respect them for their intelligence,
Admire them for their courage…
…and love them because we just can’t help ourselves.
When someone asks me why I love my partner, Natasha, that’s the idea that keeps coming back to me.
I met her when we were both with other partners, in different states and stages of our lives. At the time I was impressed with her physical abilities (it was an aerial dance workshop) and also with her flirtatious sense of humor (which I later found out from her friends was peculiar to my presence – and that’s an important point I’ll come back to).
Later I was impressed with the way she was able to assist me every time I came back to present a workshop in her area. She had a way of devoting her entire attention towards the service and success of the task – and for a former military man like me, that’s an intoxicating attribute. Our friendship deepened over the years into eventual long-distance dating.
That’s probably one of the best things that ever happened to us, because it meant that we spent a lot more time inside each other’s minds rather than enjoying the more physical aspects. She became a trusted confidant and friend long before she became a lover and partner.
Now she splits her time between working as my personal assistant and pursuing her own passion at IntentionAtHome and as a leader of the Madison Women of Leather. I get to watch her iron resolve (honed by years of work as a nanny) as she attacks the internecine politics of community, see how she rises to the tasks I require of her, and enjoy and support her own blossoming entreneurship.
But None of That Matters
What I have noticed is that when I’m around Natasha I tend to work harder at being the kind of person that I feel she would like. The kind of person she deserves. She brings out aspects of me that are like superpowers, that I don’t know that I’d be capable of without her support. And by support, I mean her belief in me. She’s the first person that has given me a glimmer of what it feels like to be loved not for what I can do but for who I am.
(And I say “glimmer” only because I still haven’t internalized that belief. But give me another couple of decades with her, I think she might win me over.)
That Doesn’t Matter Either
Remember how I mentioned that when I first met her I had found her to be flirtatious? And that her friends had told me that was very unusual?
There’s something – biological, chemical, psychological – that triggered that instinct in her when I’m around (I can’t say that it triggered it in me; I tend to be flirtatious by nature ever since the age of five).
Here’s the thing: she’d met other good presenters. She knew lots of very smart, intelligent, handsome, and successful people. She’d been in – and was in – relationships with all the joys and sorrows that one would expect.
So have I.
None of that is what keeps us together. None of that is what we mean when we say “I love you”.
No, it’s simply that we do, in fact, love each other. Not because of any list of accomplishments, or physical traits, or attraction or goals. All of that is fine, yes, and quite fun (especially the attraction part) – but all of that waxes as wane, as inconstant as the moon. The picture I’ve painted above is the highlights; there were a lot of lowdarks, too, but they are part of the shared history now, with psychological scars like badges of honor from battles we’ve won together (or at least survived).
What doesn’t change is the fact that I can’t help but love her. I know; I’ve tried not to, in some of my more idiotic moments. I can’t put a list of reasons to it that makes any sense, because you could find someone else with all those same reasons and they would not make me feel the way I feel when I look in Natasha’s eyes.
I’m really fortunate to be able to share her (REDACTED) birthday. I hope you, my dear reader, find even a fraction of that kind of luck in your life.