I can’t help but love her.

I want to love her. That’s different than just finding yourself in love, you know.

Waking up one day and realizing that the other person has become someone that you care more deeply for than any other is finding yourself in love. No effort, no conscious decision, no work.

Wanting to love someone is different.

For years I didn’t want to love her. The memories, the pain, the regret. The notion that all others could never measure up because of this image I had in my head. It was painful.

Now, I lay there and watch her sleep. Listening to her breathe, the look of peace and serenity on her face. The way that our bodies effortlessly twist and turn until that deep, subconscious feeling of comfort takes hold.

I’ve described her physically. Her dark hair that is now streaked with gray. Her gray eyes that look both cold and welcoming at the same time. Her tiny frame and awkward gait.

I want to love her. I want to rush towards her arms rather than second guess my motives and feelings. Rather than play out a hundred different scenarios in my mind of how things could go wrong.

I find myself seeking out information about her that to others seems mundane.

How she likes her coffee. With one spoon of sugar and enough cream to make it more tan than brown.

How she eats her food. One item at a time. First the vegetable, then the meat, the pasta or starch always last.

The wine she will always order when she has a drink. Penot Grigio. Always. No red, ever.

Her laugh. How it sounds and the difference between her hearty, belly laugh at something hysterical and her casual, polite, “that really wasn’t funny but I can’t be rude” chuckle. I try so hard to do things to hear that first, genuine laugh.

Her smile. The way that her smile shows that her two front teeth are just a little longer than the rest. The way that when she smiles, it makes her chin seem more prominent than at any other time.

Her flaws. The way that she walks isn’t typically graceful. It’s a purposeful stride from someone with short, strong legs.

The red speckles on her chest. Barely noticeable unless you are looking for them. Just a few. Not even enough to count. But, they are there.

The way she pushes her hair back out of her face. One hand, fingers running through it until it’s behind both ears and our of her way.

The smirk on her face. The way she flashes attitude when someone snaps a picture she’s not ready for.

Her favorite color. It’s green. Not a dark, Forrest green but a light, spring in bloom shade.

I want to love her and all these things.

I place my head on her chest some nights just to hear her heart beat. I kiss her in public and hold her hand to tell the world that she’s mine. She’s never pulled away or acted as if it’s awkward. Always kissing me in return and grabbing my arm.

I feel these things and wonder why I ever wanted to forget her. Why I ever feared being in love in the first place.

I want to wake up next to her every day for the rest of my life.

I’d rather chew off my own arm than see her hurt. Either by me or another.

There was once a time that I didn’t want these things. I didn’t care what my partners favorite food was or what her biggest fear could be. I didn’t want to be invested because I felt there was an expiration date stamped on us and it would ease the pain if I didn’t know.

Now it’s different. I need to know. I want to give her joy and happiness that can only come from the intimate acceptance of her imperfections.

I want to love her and I want her to love me in return.

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