Thursday, February 24, 2011

But How Do You KNOW?

"How do you know when you want someone to be a part of your life?"

This is one of my favorite questions to ask people who are part of a couple-- I've asked my mom, my friends, my older friends who are engaged or married, sales associates, random people I've met while in line at the supermarket, the woman behind the counter at my favorite take-out Chinese restaurant who always compliments my diamond ring and I always compliment hers (it's a ritual, just like getting my special lo mien there), my cousin's wives, my coworkers, some of my exes I still talk to...basically, anyone I feel I can get an answer out of.

The answer is always different, but it always involves a "defining moment" or "feeling"-- something that made them realize that the person they were with wasn't just A Person; they were Someone. For some, it was the way their partner laughed or slept or snored that was uniquely them that they fell in love with-- for others, it was a grand gesture-- an engagement-- or a small gesture-- bringing them soup and tissues when they were sick-- that made them start to seriously think about that person as a part of their life, or someone they wanted to be a part of their life.

As for me, I knew I wanted to be with TGIS one night when I accompanied him outside while he had a cigarette. (Before I get any questions asking me how that works now that I've quit, he smokes Marlboro's, the smell of which turned my stomach even when I was a smoker, so that's the only way it works, thank god.) We were standing in the parking lot behind my apartment, looking at the moon and breathing clouds of smoke (his, real; mine, from the cold,) when a faint noise caught my attention. It sounded, inexplicably, like distress, coming from the below the parking lot's back fence, maybe in the ditch, or in the neighbor's backyard. Thoughts of rape instantly flashed through my head, and I turned to ask TGIS if he heard it, too.

He had, and unlike some other men, he didn't ignore it, or brush it off as nothing. Instead, he started walking toward where the noise was coming from, making sure that I was not far behind him. We got to the edge of the parking lot, and waited, silently, finally able to hear clearly, a woman's voice and a man's, arguing, before they stopped. "Someone's beating their girlfriend tonight," he said, and lingered at the fence, waiting to see if the noises would start again, but they didn't. He seemed loathe to leave, but after another 5 minutes in the gentle snowfall, all was still and silent, and I was cold. As we turned back to go inside, that's when I knew-- this was a good man. If he was willing to stop, investigate, and intercede on behalf of a stranger, I knew he'd do the same for me, in a heartbeat then, and I wanted him in my life.


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