My heart was pounding. Only minutes elapsed, but in here, it felt like an eternity. I hated it—the waiting, the lack of presence. Yet, here was I was: terrified and hiding. My ear was plastered to the door searching for that familiar crinkle of paper again.
I cracked open the door. It was a mess of darkness; shadows mingled in secret corners. I couldn’t see a thing, but as I curled back into his arms, I could tell he was smiling. My heart damn near skipped a beat and, as it did, there was an echo. Our hearts both drumming. We didn’t need to say anything aloud that they weren’t already saying together.
After a moment, a crinkle broke our silence as he slid that piece of paper back into my hand. Even in the dimness of the room, I knew what it said.
I knew every sound in that house. I knew which floorboards creaked as you walked up the stairs to wake me every morning. I knew the sound of the news, or the kettle whistle, as you silently started your day. I knew the exact time you would be home and how long it took to microwave the perfect bag of popcorn. It was a routine that I became accustomed to; a bowl of popcorn to share and a cup of tea each.
I grew older. My routines changed, but I always knew the sound of floorboards when you made sure I was up for work. I knew the sound of your favorite show when I would get home in the evening and silently end my day. I knew exactly where I was standing in the kitchen when you told me how proud you were of me.
Still, I worried that the routine I loved was lost. I never realized that I had something much better. See, my life was filled with routines. Every morning I left, every evening I came home, every Marvel movie that came out in theaters: there you were. When everyone else was absent, you were present. You still are because you didn’t just give me routines. You gave me the space to be an individual and, yet, provided me with pieces of you. You gave me an arsenal of memories. You gave me a distinction of home.
All that I am, and all that I could ever hope to be, is because of you.
The first time you met, did you feel it? You sat there for hours craving more conversation than time would allow. Yet, it seemed endless and time submitted to your constraints. Every day, every week, you managed more. With every extra second, did you understand it?
The first time you kissed, did you feel it? Your definition of everything changed in an instant; home, happiness, humanity. The variables were ever-changing, but he was constant. With every new definition, did you understand it?
Were you certain? The moment your heart was slamming in your chest to tell you that this was it. This was all you would ever need. The moment you drove home, inches apart, and realized that was most distance you could stand. Could you grasp the idea of it?
I love you. How long did it take for you to say it? Even though you felt it all those hours you begged time to slow down. You knew it when ‘home’ was attributed to being by his side. When distance could make you miss him and, somehow, love him more—you were certain.