I still remember the first time I heard him say “I love you”. It was the first time I heard it in all 18 years of my life. It was the first moment, time really stopped and stood still as my beating heart raced over adrenaline.
I couldn’t help but smile, the city lights below the mountain I lived on shined brighter than they ever did through my window shutters by my bed. I clenched the warm comforter closer to my chest, even though I finally felt warm during that cold winter night. I didn’t know what to say, but I couldn’t stop smiling. I guess he knew it made the butterflies in my stomach silence and all the worries in my head disappear, because he then said it over…and over…and over again throughout that night’s phone call.
It lasted for hours. I laid on that bed wishing he was there with me so I could see the way his lips moved, his eyes twinkled, and his chest rise and fall with each nervous breath. I wish I could hug him, could lay in his arms and curl my body against his as I spoke my response, “I love you more.” and he could reply, “I love you most.”
I remember feeling I could finally fall asleep, my eyes getting heavier and heavier as I felt safer and safer with him there (even though he was a dozen miles away in another town). I remember finally feeling relaxed as if a weight was lifted off my shoulders, and the nightmares that were soon to come (as they did every night that month) didn’t bother me as much. I remember finally feeling at peace with the life around me and everything life has to offer because, in that moment, life proved to me it could still be sweet as honey in a blackhole of nightmares come true.
I remember how how I was that next morning, how I couldn’t wipe of that goofy smile from my face. Every romantically happy song there was on the radio seemed as if they sang of my life. Despite everything happening around me, he gave me the power and the will to be strong and keep being happy. It felt like a fairytale dream even though the next life-shaking event could be right around the corner.
When I met him that morning, it was just as those books said: even though there were hundreds of people around us, it just felt like it was just us; it was us against the world. I devoured the feeling of safety, the feeling of belonging, of being wanted, and the feeling of finally being accepted by a person who actually knew me inside and out. I never though it could come true. My mom always said no guy would want me with all the scars on my body, no man would want to keep a women I would grow up to become, etc. But one did.
He saw all my scars and bruises. He knew of my failures and mistakes. He could see my past within my eyes but still saw past it because he knew my past wasn’t all I was. He knew what stupid things I’ve done. He knew what I was like when I was jealous, when I was scared, or when I was anxious and nervous, or frustrated and tired. He knew all the sides to me. And he loved me anyway.
I remember, so vividly, the look in his eyes, the way his hand felt on my neck, and how his half-asleep voice sounded as he whispered “I love you” again in person. I remember how his lips felt on mine, how he pulled me in his arms and held me tight. And I remember I finally had understood what people meant when they said home is not simply a place, but home is a person.
He was my home.