Love doesn't trouble my head these days, but it used to -- a lot. I've been married for well-nigh five years now, and I forget how harrowing life seemed back then in those days before I met Josh.
Before Josh, there was always someone I fancied, whether or not the lad reciprocated my affections (most often not). There was always the flutter, the highs and lows of he-loves-me-he-loves-me-not, the anxious but excited wondering, the hope at an unexpected conversation, the despair of absence or uncertainty.
And, of course, the butterflies that I have always called butterflies because we had no language to talk about sexual attraction.
Then I met Josh. And not one butterfly.
I bumped into him on the steps leading to the college chapel. He told me about his upcoming senior recital. I mentioned that I was writing a novel. He said he'd like to see it when I was done.
He looked older than when I'd last seen him two years ago.
Those early sightings had been fleeting, certainly. He spent most of his time in the bowels of the music building, and I only ever saw him briefly in the cafeteria or on the sidewalk on his way to the music building. I remembered a young man with enthusiastic hand gestures whose shirts and khakis had clearly been purchased in the 90s. And he wore sneakers with those khakis, sneakers laced super-tight for good ankle support.
He'd grown a beard since then and his eyes looked older, sadder, wiser.
And I thought, "He seems to have shaped up nicely. I wonder if he's still with that Amanda-girl. I hope he is with someone who deserves him."
It was an innocent thought. You may not believe me, but I had no thought of him for myself. Because there were no butterflies.
Instead of butterflies and drama and confused, angst-ridden prayers, all I felt was an almost startling ease. We talked often in those next few weeks, and every time we met, I felt more and more like my real self.
This was not how love was supposed to work. I was supposed to be intimidated, happily anxious.
I emailed him a draft of my novel, but we didn't talk over the summer. In August, when we came back to school, we got together for tea. And it was at that tea, that I was certain of what I had suspected over the summer -- this was the man I was to marry.
This was not how love was supposed to go for me. I had always been suspicious of the stories people told and how they "knew" when they first met that they would fall in love. You can't know, I thought. You can't know after only having known someone such a short time. You can't be sure of someone's character so soon.
Yet here I was, so sure that Josh and I were meant to be together. And I wasn't even in love. I have not been certain about many things in my life, but I knew that Josh and I fit. For the first time in my life, I wasn't worried about being in love. Love didn't trouble my head.
I wasn't worried about butterflies (or the lack thereof). I knew they would come when they needed to come.
And they did.