My first time on a Zipline. Sweaty palms, increased heart rate. You aren’t quite sure what to expect. You double check your safety harness, you clip on and think to yourself, “What the hell am I doing?”.

The first few seconds are euphoric, everything slows down. You then begin to build speed,  faster and faster; you hit critical mass, you spin and terror begins to take foot. Out of control.

You hit the buffer to stop, a sudden jerk. You swing like a pendulum and quickly gain your footing. The first breath feels like the first in eternity, yet the ride is finished as quickly as it began.

Love sometimes feels like standing on a cliff. You and your partner are on opposite sides of a canyon, with the water below of untold depths. If you jump in alone, you drown. If your partner jumps in alone, they drown.

They say that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results. Yet, here I am again on the cliffside.

Or maybe it’s about finding someone that you don’t have to jump off cliffs for.

A nightmare and a metaphor for life

I find myself at 5:23 AM forced awake from the perils of a nightmare. In this dream, the human race is abducted by aliens and made immortal. We are shaped into whatever form, into an environment of their choosing.

At first, and this will sound bizarre, we were emojis. Once the initial freakout of our new forms was over, the aliens became bored. They started arranging us into groups.

When boredom again set in, we were transformed into our human shapes. It was a dark, wet night. I pumped my legs under the dimly amber lit roads, looking for a house to knock upon to call the police, an ambulance, anyone.

At a white house with peeling latex paint, an African American woman with a broad smile opened the door and allowed me to use the phone. I swiftly called emergency services and informed the operator to send anyone who would come.

Some time passed, and the uneasiness began to set in. More family members let themselves be known. Children were sitting in the loft, blocking the staircase going downstairs. I started feeling trapped.

Panic set in, I could feel my skin crawl. I tried running out the back door but was tackled and knocked out. When I came to, I was tied down to a creaky kitchen chair. The aliens in human form wore white plastic aprons, tall syringes in hand.

They began laughing and stabbing my thighs, chest with the syringes, injecting the fluid, then breaking off the needles in my body. Everything went black.

I awakened from this dream and sat up. The moment I felt my body, I knew I was back in the real. My bedroom was dark with the soft green glow of surge protectors. The hum of the fans, the gentle red glow of the television standby light, a point of reference of the size of the room I was in.

Life is a series of trainwrecks, a steady march into entropy. Much like this nightmare, one always knows, on some level, how much shit they are in, simply due to the virtue of life; the march of time.

Of the most importance is to find gratitude in the mundane. Boredom is a blessing, that life can be so ordinary, stable. Such is a miracle, considering the entropy of the universe.

When Manda met Lola

As a parent, there’s a special feeling you get when you introduce your child to your partner. It’s not something to be taken lightly, it’s the grand assumption that this person will be in your life for the foreseeable future.

The event shouldn’t be something that is overly stressful that one partner pushes for, while the other is hesitant about the situation. First meetings are awkward enough.

There’s a difference between attachment and love. Co-dependency and healthy independence. There’s love languages to be aware of, infatuation to wane. You have to really ask yourself if you are with this person for wholesome reasons, to love them as a separate entity, the other, instead of the desire to be taken care of as a child. You have to ask yourself if you are with this person simply because you don’t want to be alone.

When I met Amanda, actually our first communication was a question, “What are your greatest challenges and how do you work towards growing?”, “What are your short and long-term goals?”, “How do you approach problem-solving.”

Question after question. It was strange to lead with such things. Most people introduce themselves to each other with a funny pickup line, or a rather lame, “hey.” I went through quite a many interested people and told many people no.

Amanda and I approached things differently. We began with the real questions, followed up with a love languages quiz, finished things off with a Briggs-Meyers personality test. INFJs with much of the same love languages, Acts of Service, Quality Time, Physical Touch. Although, I always tend to be more extroverted than your garden variety INFJs.

We both had our doses of poor relationships. Heck, she too knows what it feels like to go through a divorce. We both wanted something real and knew all too well what fire feels like.

We talk about our previous relationship experiences, to learn where things went sour, to grow, in all brutally honest detail. Our infidelities, our darkest moments.

Things just feel different. You think you know what love is, but then you meet someone and find that it shouldn’t be a compromise. You find that love is hard work and sweat. Love is what you can do for your partner, but they have to be willing to do the same. It’s trust, it’s friendship. It’s being able to have the hard discussions, yet laughing until you can’t breathe.

Love is vulnerability. Mutual vulnerability. The ultimate vulnerability.

Yet, most people aren’t willing to be vulnerable enough to experience something real.

“Someone can be madly in love with you and still not be ready. They can love you in a way you have never been loved and still not join you on the bridge. And whatever their reasons you must leave. Because you never ever have to inspire anyone to meet you on the bridge. You never ever have to convince someone to do the work to be ready. There is more extraordinary love, more love that you have never seen, out here in this wide and wild universe. And there is the love that will be ready.”

Nayyirah Waheed