Tread softly on the words you used to write

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Some of the most significant moments and relationships in our lives aren’t necessarily the ones that have taken up the biggest chunk of our time or the ones which can be given a neat little title to categorise them. I’ve always had a bit of dubiousness around words like ‘boyfriend’, ‘girlfriend’, et cetera, and even though of course I do use them to describe other people’s arrangements, I’ve always preferred not to in my own personal life. The reason for that is because I’ve had a lot of truly absorbing, life-changing, heart-breaking or otherwise significant interactions with people that can’t really be defined in any of those ways, or in just one. For example, the two people I’ve been most in love with were not my boyfriends. I have, on occasion, had trouble loving the people right in front of me. So talking about love and exes with people is difficult, because when I talk about love I need to talk about things that happened outside of my physical world. One thing I understand is long-distance relationships - and long-distance non-relationships, where one or both of you is very much in love, but where there is still no boyfriend that you can introduce to your parents or take to prom. This is what they commonly refer to as ‘a pile of shit’. That being said, there is a certain beautiful pain and longing and drama that can come out of so much space between you. There is nothing quite like the ping of a text message that you know is from them. Or finding a private place so that you can open a gift wrapped in tissue. Or the freedom that comes from not having to face the person you are loving; it is so much easier to have a great romance with someone who is half-imagined. Having the time to write out your thoughts, and your feelings, creates a very different kind of communication to one that is based in the everyday, the spontaneous, the stressful, the physical. This kind of ‘intellectual love’ has been a part of my psyche since I was old enough to know how to keep a secret. It might strike some people as being very little fun, and in some ways that’s completely true. But in others it has been overwhelming - it has filled every corner of my mind.

The reason I’m writing about this is because I am about to let something imagined become real. I have no idea what will happen, whether we will be friends or lovers or if we’ll hate each other. Everything we have shared exists in some other world to this one, where people stay up all night, their faces illuminated by the screen of a mobile phone. And so I want to share the song I have always felt defined our…whatever it is. She is singing to a man she has known through his letters. I always thought I would be saying goodbye the way she is. In fact I have, a few times. But this time I am going to swallow my own fears about what might go wrong, and bring our whatever it is into the warm, unflinching light of spring. And turn it into something that can be given a name.

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