I know a lot of people.
I have a big, extended family. I went to school in two distinct areas of my home region here on this weird tightrope line between the American Midwest and South, from kindergarten through high school, and my high school was a big school in a big district. I went to two different big, high enrollment state colleges. I worked for a national company. I married J. He also has a big, extended family and grew up in another state. Our old friends both scattered across the country as adults, and I’ve even made some online friends through my writing the past couple of years that live all over the WORLD, so…at least tangentially…I know a lot of people. But the vast majority of those people don’t know me. Few of them have any real desire to know me. That’s alright. It used to bother me, but now that I’m 40, I appreciate that I’m an acquired taste.
And I admit that I’m hard to get to know. Social anxiety dictates a lot of that. My default assumption is that no one wants to know me. That added to my obsession (yes…OBSESSION) with consent usually means I wait for people to express explicit desire to know me by asking questions (‘What do you think about…?’ ‘Do you ever…?’ How do you feel when…?’) or making statements like, ‘I want to know if you <insert whatever here>.’ And it’s pretty rare for folks to ask me those questions or make those kinds of statements to me. I don’t normally just voluntarily share things about myself with people. (Thank you to those of you who do this for me…there are a couple of you…you are noticed and appreciated.) But J always has wanted to know me. J is my person.
So, yeah. I know a lot of people. But really? I don’t have very many people in my life. Most of the time, it’s just J and me. And I like it that way, honestly. I love my family and friends. But my MAIN connection? My MAIN support system? That’s J. He truly is my life partner…he’s my partner in life. He’s my love. He’s my co-parent. He’s my teammate. He’s my sounding board. He’s my biggest fan. He’s my best friend. He’s my favorite. I hope he thinks I’m all that stuff for him too. I want to be all of that for him too. I do my best to be.
When I wrote Building: A Love Story, the first love story I ever wrote, it was obviously heavily influenced by my life with J, because it was my first book, and you write what you know. And I know I love J. That’s the source of all my ideas and feelings about love. My life with J. And I’ve always loved REM. I love their cerebral, emotional lyrics. I love that sincere (sometimes pained) wail in Michael Stipe’s voice when he sings. And one of my all time favorite love songs is their Be Mine. I ADORE these lyrics. I love everything about them. I feel like this is another song where the lyrics sound like real (but maybe slightly unconventional) wedding vows. I can almost hear J and I saying them to each other. My favorite line in the verses is ‘I want the secrets of the temple.’ To me, that’s ‘I want to know you…even the things you don’t share with other people…maybe especially the things you don’t share with other people.’ THAT? To me, that’s a grand expression of love.
So I made it Alan and Jessica’s wedding song in my first book. Because while they aren’t exactly like J and me, by any stretch, they have a real ‘you and me’ thing going on…just like us. They have friends and families they care about and feel like a part of, but the person that knows them best? Their favorite person? The person they always feel comfortable and like they belong with? That’s their partner. Jessica is the person who sought to know Alan the best; and Alan is the person who sought to know Jessica the best, out of all the other people they knew. That part of them? That came from us. That’s J and me. This song fits that.