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When we enter into deep relationship, we cast ourselves under somewhat of a microscope. As we cohabitate and learn the intricacies of another human and behold the runny noses and migraines and sulky moods and insecurities usually reserved for behind closed doors, we allow ourselves to become inspected.

Some of us dance like amoebas under the lit lens, eager to present ourselves in a new light and others shy away into the furthest area of the petri dish, resistant to letting someone in too close, too quickly. Since living with Mark, I’ve laid bare some of my weird habits; many weaknesses; irrational and rational fears; me specific strengths; lack of understanding; quirks; most beautiful self- in the most extraordinary science experiment that I love being a part of.

There is something quietly luxurious about having an entire day laid out with nothing scheduled to do but think: over the noise of the television, through cat naps on the sofa, between trips to the kitchen for chili-peppered almonds. I’ve had time to reflect on this past year in a way that gives life and rest, allows my mind to settle and refresh. I pored through old notebooks and email drafts and skimmed photos. I read back to an entry I wrote in late autumn of last year and it still resonates strongly, so familiarly.

She had known it for some time. A warm, foreign feeling nestled in the webs of her toes, under her fingernails, in the mesh of veins behind her eyelids. The realization that she had found some tangible form of happiness. 

Glimpses of him would visit when she’d shut her eyes, blinking away tears or rubbing them after sleep. Curve of his mouth, a slash of pink, incredibly expressive. Three flecks of moss in woodsy eyes. Ridge of his collarbone, sweaty and sharp under her fingertip. 

Sometimes she’d imagine he was in the next room, even as he typed and clicked and scrolled 25 or so miles away. She’d pretend he was reading or napping and that she, soon, would get up to cook them dinner. Or put on music to wake him. Or find him and kiss him full on the mouth. 

It was extraordinary what his mind did to her. How he was so vocal about the inner workings of his psyche and how capable he could be of sharing his emotional range. Every single thing about him was like a thick dusting of powder and ice on an autumn night, unexpected and absolutely delightful. An invitation to relax and to play and to be content. She waited for him like a child does a snow day- anticipating the thrill and stunning brightness of his presence.

I write today sporadically and lazily during the first truly rain spattered day after the longest streak of dry weather in Tacoma. It brings the gray calm I’ve been waiting for. Even as the sun warmed my skin while basking on the bow of a sailboat or as a trickle of sweat run down my thigh hiking to a crystalline, dragonfly dotted lake; I wanted the inexplicable comfort of rain. Now I am surrounded in shadows and music and the smell of meat browning in garlic on the stove, simmering tomatoes and I am alone for several hours and my introvert self is so fulfilled. I await this coming week: full at work, ensuring articles are written and copy is edited and artwork is approved and then, off to Australia for the next two weeks.

I prepare for the days full of family and friends and the newness of it all. I anticipate the opportunity to view Mark under a new lens, in his home, where he grew up and where so much of him was molded. I cannot wait to find myself before the backdrop of what formed this man during the first chapters of life, to discover more about the stunning subject who has allowed me to put him under a microscope- and who gazes back at me so intently.

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