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  • Writer's pictureJosh Oldridge

Knowing you are in love

Updated: Feb 2

A few years ago I wrote about meeting a couple where a girl, Rosa, said she would often, without warning, burst into tears. When I asked why, she told me it was because of how much she loved her boyfriend. Needless to say, the gravity of this statement meant my jaw was hanging wide open for the remainder of the evening. At the time, I was ‘on a break’ with my then girlfriend – we’d actually split up, but got back together a few months later and it lasted over two years more, so we retrospectively called it a break – and desperately wanted to believe I had been in love. I’d had moments where I truly believed it. But to the point of spontaneous tears? Surely that was something few people experienced. Perhaps, I thought, Rosa was the only person in the world who felt that way about her partner. This notion gave me comfort – I deeply cared for my then partner with whom I got back together, and we were well suited: that constituted love, I thought, for me and most.


That conversation with Rosa was in January 2020. As I write this, in December 2023, you need both hands to count the number of times I’ve been driving, over the last couple of months, and felt my eyes well up unannounced. I am overcome. I understand Rosa now where I thought I never would. And, because I really did not think I would, I write these moments of ‘my journey’ to provide hope (and advice): if you are reading this (thank you!) and don’t think true love is for you, don’t believe you will find it, don’t know whether you are in love, I promise you I didn’t either!




Breakup


And so we got back together from the break-up-break, my then girlfriend and I, after I returned from the month-long trip to Sri Lanka where I met Rosa and her partner. Over the next covid-stricken year, we saw each other sporadically. And it was lovely. I had a comfortable, mostly bearable remote job, I was writing, and gradually football returned to keep me fit and healthy. Seeing my girlfriend in amongst this, supporting each other with family concerns and crafting dalgona coffees (remember that covid fad?), jogging together, the occasional gig, was warm, cosy, offered lots to look forward to. And, to reiterate, at times I really did think I was in love. I said it to her. She said it back.


In September 2021, we moved into a flat together – just the two of us – as I began a master’s and she was teaching on the outskirts of London. For a few months, this was ideal: together we scoured Facebook Marketplace and brought back random bits of bargain furniture, jogged the canal path in the evenings, and tried out new recipes after work in our little kitchen. Blissful, in many ways.


It took until the start of the new year for cracks to appear. As my master’s course became more intense, I ditched my remote job to free up more time for my studies. Meanwhile, my girlfriend was up at 5 a.m. every day to prep before work, coming home at 5 p.m. and doing more work, and understandably zonked by eight. Though I loved working into the evenings too, now I’d quit my job I could go for beers with course mates until the early hours on a school night and roll out of bed straight into a morning of strong coffee and reading, which was uni work, but, aside from me requiring a keen analytical eye, is something many do for leisure. All this was fine – the issue was we both wanted these differences: she wanted the couple flat, early starts and early beds, hard work routine, and city life, and she was acing it; I craved late nights watching shows and writing, hanging with mates chatting complete rubbish, going to the gym for a spin session at midnight to churn my thoughts then coming back to write, and though I knew this was not sustainable, I wanted it for those final months of my master’s. It also took time to admit that I missed small town life in Falmouth, where we met at university and where beaches and cliffs and woodland are on the doorstep, which all do far more for me than the Pret, Pizza Express, and Greggs I currently had on mine (all right, knowing at any given moment before 6 p.m. there was a Greggs sausage, beans, and cheese melt two minutes away on foot was pretty damn enthralling in fairness). As the sheen of having our own flat together, sorting out ‘adulting’ tasks like water bills and doorbell app notifications, began to wear off, the differences became stark.


Both unconfrontational souls who see the best in people and try to be as empathetic as possible, we eventually descended into arguing about trivial things. We’d always make up, but as the yearlong contract on our flat came up for renewal and she was keen to extend while I wanted to move back to Falmouth, and neither of us would budge, the arguments found less immediate resolution. Still, after she moved into a house share near our flat and I packed the car and took the 5-hour drive to Cornwall after our flat contract elapsed, we were still together.


It took a month or so of long distance for me to realise it wasn’t right, that I couldn’t be in the relationship any longer. One of the most difficult conversations I’ve ever had. I still care for her deeply, really did think I was in love, and it was a formative relationship for both of us, one from which we both learnt so much. Looking back on my behaviour, as I do regularly through choice or thoughts creeping in, I feel disappointed in myself. We'd broken up twice during our four years, both occasions involved tortuous conversations with her crying on the bed and me on the carpet. But I'm slightly disgusted with former me for not opening up earlier during those final few months, for not having those difficult conversations or speaking my absolute truest mind earlier, and I often still squirm with guilt when I think about it, about the upset caused to an amazing person who will find another amazing person and be so happy. But I did learn the importance of being completely honest and upfront, started seeing the serious negatives consequences of being a people pleaser. And that was a vital lesson for what came next.

 


Dating


Despite being just into my thirties, for reasons including terrible confidence levels and depression, I’d never done dating; only ever having gotten into relationships with people I already knew. But, after a few months single, processing the breakup, I entered this world. People refer to it as the dating ‘game’, which implies something fun, not too serious. And whilst I do enjoy games, I’ve played enough Connect 4 to realise they can lead to frustration, despondency, and an early bed feeling ostracised. So I entered it willingly but cautiously. I did not want anything too serious: after the upset of a four-year relationship breakup I wanted some fun: I wanted to play Connect 4 (not necessarily a euphemism).


My first romantic experience post-breakup was not from a date, however. It came after the England men’s football team was knocked out of the World Cup by France. All my friends were out and I was feeling buoyant, even though we’d lost: or, as someone who instinctively tries to make people feel better when the chips are down, I may have been buoyant because of the loss. I was in a better headspace than I had been a month previous, having wrapped myself in a secure routine of 9 to 5 work, hanging with friends, casual football most nights, and generally trying to look after myself post-breakup and after a difficult spell of mental health that lead to a 4 a.m. trip to A&E. We’d found a decent spot in a pub with unimpaired views of four big screens for the match, and with seats – enough to put any football fan in a good mood already – friends were introduced to friends, new connections formed, and drinks flowed. After the loss we went to a DJ set and, catching me off guard, the moment we walked in a girl, with her friend, looked directly at me. I smiled back. And though I wasn’t even thinking of romance, just belly laughing with my friends, I was convinced she had an eyebrow raised in a certain way. Drinks in hand, my friends and I soon found ourselves on the same part of the dancefloor as the two girls. Conversation struck up after I accidentally placed my jacket on one belonging to them. Light, humorous chat that descended into daring each other into necking drinks, heading back through town all together, and one of the girls and I ended up in a club just the two of us. We laughed, we danced, we kissed. So inexperienced with this sort of encounter, it shocked me how naturally it all happened, to the point where I went to the loo a couple of times to stare at myself in the mirror, splash my face with water and wipe it off, ask myself whether I should be doing this two months after a breakup, trying to let go of that anxiety and give in to desire. Just as naturally as the rest of the night had gone, she came back to mine, asking about my plans over Christmas, saying I should visit her flat that week and watch shows we’d quoted and joked about all evening. Exciting.


Then, in the morning, it was frosty, and the frost, while serene, was goddam pathetic fallacy. My car wouldn’t start at first from the cold and I tried to joke about it, but she didn’t smile. We exchanged messages for a few days: I was excited to see her again but held off on asking to seem laidback (WHICH I SWEAR I AM!), and then when I did, expecting her to simply name a date and time, as she herself had suggested during the night we met, she didn’t reply for longer than usual. Gradually I realised what this meant, and when she did respond, saying it had been nice to meet me but, with respect, she did not want to see me again, my heart sank. It sounds dramatic, but for weeks it was like I was wearing an immovable weighted jacket. I went to work, played football, drank with friends, but all was heavy, numb. It felt like I’d been lied to, and I felt crazy for thinking that: in reality, she owed me nothing and I knew that. It was the first one-night stand I’d had with a complete stranger. The game had bitten me.


While still in this feelingless state a week later, I was minding my own business in a club, tipsy, when my friend and I were approached by two women. In over a decade of going on nights out, from the extravagance of Pontefract to crowded clubs in Madrid, this had never happened to me before. But, because of the disappointment of a week before, I didn’t really care, which prevented my anxieties stifling me: I was calm and made droll jokes, and only ten minutes and two shots later, she was asking whether we were going back to my place or hers. A night later an impromptu Hinge date with someone else went the same way. I was rebounding, something I’d seen on movies and heard about, and I felt ‘normal’ in a young Western society way for doing it, and it did manage to bring a little smile to my lips.


But it was hollow. Over Christmas, off work for a fortnight and back at my family home, I was bereft, adrift: the excitement of those few nights felt a long way away – was, physically, as I was tucked in my childhood bedroom 365 miles away from Falmouth (a mile a day if you wanted to walk it in a year, I always joked, because I’m fucking hilarious). I was restless and lonely, struggled to sleep, and resorted to daily drinking, even if just a couple of measures of cheap vodka before bed.


After Christmas – hashtag new year, new me – I focused on work, being still relatively new to my role and wanting to impress, and freshened up my wardrobe, then hit the dating apps. Fraught with anxiety over whether I had uploaded the correct photos, funny and flirty yet warm and humble captions, opening messages that were too long or too short, too quick after the match to seem eager, or too slow to come across uninterested, this really took the ‘game’ aspect of dating to a new level. Especially with the notification system that provides a dopamine hit when you’re greeted by the little red circle that indicates a new message or match, or deflated if the circle isn’t present. It had me in a mini rollercoaster of emotions. But once the ball got rolling, app dating took me to some interesting places, including a picturesque cottage deep in the Cornish woods, beaches near the Eden Project, and – I registered this as it was happening – to the aesthetic picture I’d built up in my mind from shows aimed at twenty- and thirty-somethings like Dress to Impress, of young people living the metropolitan life meeting in cocktail bars, wearing sleek, dare I say it, smart-casual clothes, enthusiastic chat, ready to go back to a shared house to tell dating tales. Being independent, focusing on me. And it was fun. But only to the extent an aesthetic life can be. In reality, it was not me (and to call anywhere in Cornwall metropolitan is a stretch – which is in no way a drawback). It gave me confidence, both in myself and in the bedroom, and – a legacy of the four-year relationship – I was always honest straightaway about my intentions, my breakup, and that I was not actively seeking anything serious, which helped alleviate any anxiety of what someone might be expecting of me. Through app dating I met some lovely people with interesting stories, with whom I had enriching conversations, and whose company I enjoyed. Even though it was frustrating when I matched with someone and thought we’d get along, chat for a bit, and then get ghosted, which happened all the time. And that air of not knowing surrounds everything – not knowing what to say, how soon to ask to meet up, and the text interface making it impossible to properly tell someone’s reaction. I was being a version of me I sort of liked, but knew wasn’t completely true. Peel any layers and I am awkward, gregarious, sometimes quiet, sometimes frenetic, love seeing people meet new people, care about everyone’s feelings innately. And it sucks to wear layers, but I found it difficult to truly be myself on dating apps. With hindsight, I see how this was me not believing anybody could fall in love with the real me.


Throughout this time, every Friday and Saturday, I was out in town. This from someone who used to avoid nights out (see point 5). But these were exciting weekends. At least, the nights were. In parts. One thing remained, however – after the high of a fun date or meeting someone on a night out and following each other on Instagram or something more, there would always, ALWAYS be a swift low.




Fear of being alone


In the canteen at work, we’d been talking about life and love, but had since moved on to discussing the optimal choice for an 8-item breakfast meal (it includes 3 hash browns, FYI), when my colleague, who’d obviously been mulling over our previous conversation, suddenly said to me, as I was explaining why bean juice running into scrambled eggs is abhorrent and a hash brown wall must be erected to keep them apart (see?!), said to me, ‘You’ll never be fine with someone until you learn to be fine by yourself.’ Her stare lingered for a moment afterwards, too, as I tried to laugh it off. But she had hit something. One of those bits of advice that gets under your skin, itches away until you cannot ignore it. I knew it was true: while I was better at being honest with others, I still was not fully honest with myself – not completely acknowledging my desires or at peace with my flaws. And, being brutally honest, part of the reason my previous relationship lasted as long as it did is because I was afraid of being alone. Afraid of feeling left out at Christmas. Of not having someone to message when I needed support or a rant. Fear of missing physical contact and warmth.


To take it back, and say something I’ve told few people, for six years I’d felt that pain in my early twenties. Total romantic isolation. After a messy night out toward the end of first year in Leeds when I was nineteen, a girl I’d known all year took me back to her room in halls. Between that and my next girlfriend when I was 25, I had no sex and kissed only two people on drunken nights out. Some friends and family thought I was gay and afraid to come out – a few asked me outright at the time, others respectively informed me. I was depressed as fuck, didn’t know who I was, lonely, but, I replied to those people, sometimes embarrassed by my lack of romance, that I was, am, straight. I didn’t want to go back to that level of isolation.


While dating, even when I had meetups in the pipeline, people I was talking to, even a string of dates with the same person, there were also desperate nights. Not even for romance, but connection. On a Friday night, I play football after work. It’s indoor, sweaty as hell, and after a week at work, I’d sometimes sit with my Friday evening curry, knackered, and think how lovely my quiet night in seemed, with an early bed for a refreshing weekend … And then it would approach ten o’clock. Meal consumed, something would brew in me, and I quickly realised it was not an urge, it was a need to be out, laughing, getting drunk. Loosing myself.


Hugely delayed, I realised a concurrence: the advice my first girlfriend gave when we broke up when I was seventeen was exactly the thing stopping me loving myself more in my thirties: I cared too much about what others thought of me. It was still preventing me from being my true self. Breakups raise deeper questions about one’s own life. In the aftermath of mine, and with this advice from a colleague that led to my thoughts about caring less what others thought of me, I returned to some positive nihilism. We are all going to die. As long as it’s not hurting others, why would you stop yourself pursuing your desires?


Each day, I forced myself to consciously care less what anyone thought of the things I did or wanted to do – like the first chapter in The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson, which, coincidentally, I saw in every hostel I visited on that trip to Sri Lanka as though it were following me around insisting I consume it’s insightful and delicious words. This included going for the first time, on my own, to Download Festival – I’d wanted to attend for a decade but, with classic overthinker hypocrisy, none of my friends were into metal but I also wouldn’t admit to many of my friends I was into metal because of a fear lingering from school days over me being ostracised for it. Anxious, I scoured forums to find someone to camp with before I arrived, but eventually went solo. It was liberating, and everybody who knew I was there alone only had positive words. Tons of people were there alone. By day two of the festival a group of 10+ of us had already formed and were camping and hanging and seeing bands together. One of the best four days of my life, no question … despite two hours sleep per night and a prepackaged tuna salad that had been punctured and left in my hot tent all day but I devoured when I returned from the after party tent. I also tried to go on fewer nights out, tried to ignore the nagging call of the lights and FOMO from being in on a weekend; started saying no to them, or said from the off I would just go for one and, when inevitably people wanted to turn this into ten, I’d brush off the peer pressure with a smile instead of caving as I used to: I’d stay in and read or play Rocket League instead. And I took the handbrake off at work: I write the newsletter, and I started effusing how much I liked the job and how my favourite part is working with people. I’ve always liked to tell people their good points, being nice to people: because, really, what is the point in not? It felt more me incorporating this into my work, and despite my trepidation, colleagues responded so positively.


Another aspect of this transformation was recognising my flaws and, instead of stressing about them, acknowledging them with a smile. Life’s too short to worry about being able to do everything. Despite working in admin, organising things for others for a living, I am always late giving birthday cards, have a three-day turnaround on replying to WhatsApp messages, and often board the bus to work a sweaty mess after sprinting up the hill to catch up to it. Instead of apologising for these things, I decided to embrace them, laugh them off, focus on the qualities I do possess. It wasn’t a perfect metamorphosis, and I was still out one day most weekends. But over those few months I became just a little more at ease being me.




Being sure


How do you know? I put this question to a good friend who, after only a matter of months together, moved in with her partner, another of my good friends. They always seem radiant together, but people thought that about me and my ex, so I had to ask. She replied: ‘When you know, you know. You know?’ I didn’t; thought it was something people said to reassure themselves. But now I do.


As mandatory, in the wake of the four-year-relationship breakup I watched and read tons about love, including rinsing Love Life twice back-to-back (the first time I’d finished a series and immediately clicked play on the first episode again) and Everything I Know About Love, among others. Many blogs and YouTube videos mention three formative romantic relationships in your life: the first, which breaks the ice and always stings when it’s over; a longer one that seems could be forever; and then a true love, often stressed as coming out of the blue. I’d been having dates, flings, sometimes with multiple people simultaneously for the first time ever (again, being upfront with people about this from the off), as I’d seen and heard about. Yet, while there was something about this me I liked, I knew it wasn’t my endgame: somewhere within, I’ve always wanted to spend a life with one person. And it was during this phase, when I was sort of seeing someone, that I was out with friends and stepped into the smoking area of the nightclub, bumped into someone I knew, and soon found I was talking one-on-one with one of her friends. Quickly, we were giggling about cats and found similarities in music taste – almost a clique, but it got us smiling – and, with bands mentioned being System of a Down and Foo Fighters, this made me gulp. Then she said she’s from a town right near my home village in Yorkshire, which caused my mouth to hang open. And, finally, she said she’d worked behind the bar at the racecourse in said town – the exact place I’d worked when I dropped out of uni. Oh, and extra finally, that she’d also dropped out of uni. Dazed, I apologised, said this was too much to take, and went back to my friends. Needless to say, jokes and similarities aside, I found her desperately attractive. And there was something about her that intrigued me, made me smile. Such energy. Turns out she has ADHD and was overstimulated. But it wasn’t that. It was the positivity of the energy. That she was ecstatic, I could see even in this small smoking area, just from being around her friends. I was right back to being me – with a capital A: Awkward. But, with my new experiences and some of that unfamiliar confidence retained, I was embracing it.


The following Saturday I was hungover and brought my book to a pub to read with a coffee to level myself. Seated at a window table, I flicked to my page, sipped my coffee, and glanced around before diving in. She was sitting alone at the table right opposite. We chatted about books, she lent me a pen to make notes in mine, but I was too hungover, my brain too frazzled, to be inciteful or entertaining, so took myself off early. A few days later, same pub, we bumped into each other again, chatted more, and followed each other on Instagram: I thought it was platonic at this stage, I found her attractive but really didn’t think she would reciprocate. But I did also find her intriguing. There were differences there from the start, I could see, that interested me – her, for example, dressing in fashionable clothes decorated in flowers and sunshine colours, while I was in trackies and quite literally an all-beige T-shirt. A week later she messaged me to join her with friends for a drink, and from there it has all progressed seamlessly. After the nights out and app chat anxiety being a bold, flirtatious version of myself, this was just two people who found each other attractive enjoying each other’s company.


A few months later, having hung out and her staying at mine almost daily, the best few months of my life (and be assured, there have been times in my life where I saw absolutely no hope, none whatsoever, and thought I would never leave the found in which I was rotting every day – so please believe me when I say it will get better), with me still sure I was not ready for a relationship, one morning, casually, she turned to me and said she really didn’t mind either way, and either way we could look back on the previous few months as a perfect little time in our lives, but, kindly, if I wasn’t ready to commit by Christmas she’d start to move on. To reiterate, I knew I was not ready for a relationship. Why, then, when she issued this completely reasonable request, did a cold rush shoot round my whole body? Why did I stare blankly back at her and my breath caught and I wanted to cry? Something moved in me, and in that moment I knew. Unequivocally. Not only did I want that relationship – I was in love. I am in love. Madly. I didn’t need until Christmas to mull it over. And in fact, her stating this ultimatum further highlighted her emotional maturity and made me like her more. She wasn’t going to be messed around and I respected that. We were together from that moment, and from that moment cautiousness dissolved and I allowed myself to do what I’d been wanted to do for weeks: I allowed myself to fall.


The reactions of those closest to me were also a huge give-away. With some of the people I’d gone on dates with my friends said things like, ‘They’re nice’, or ‘You seem to like her’, to which I’d agree or sometimes shrug off. With this new situation, my friends’ reactions became more serious. And intricate. ‘You two have a similar energy level’, or, ‘You can tell you’re really happy’. One night, just a month after we met, we were in a pub with two of my friends, and when she went to the loo, one of my friends turned to me and said, ‘It’s great seeing you two together. She is amazing’. I could be paraphrasing, might be the wrong adjective. But it doesn’t matter which synonym you use: tremendous, fantastic, out-bloody-standing, they are all true and I had absolutely no hesitation in agreeing. And I still don’t. It's come as a shock, but, as Beyoncé was in 2003 (or at least sang she was), I'm crazy in love.


Recently we were listening to Black Sabbath and Thin Lizzy in the kitchen as we made vegan BLT sandwiches on lightly toasted bread. And this simple hour of our lives was overwhelming for me. Staying true to my sadboy tendencies, I had to run upstairs to retrieve my laptop to write. What begun with mutual respect and intrigue has built, over a matter of months, into a bond between us that is enhancing my life. Here is someone I can be totally myself around. And, miraculously, likes me for it. And vice versa. It’s magical, that feeling. It’s what causes me to cry in the car.

 


Side effects


Of course, I wouldn’t change this for the world, but I've definitely experienced side effects of this love, which really come under one umbrella term: I feel, more than ever, vulnerable.


It's making me doubt myself. I thought I was capable of living alone. Now I’m unsure. There is no moment I don’t want to be with her. If we’re doing our own thing and make plans to meet up in the evening, for example, but something comes up to prevent that, I get really in my head, feel like I am floating but in a bad way, have to check recent messages that confirm she does still love me to take some of the irrationally despondent feeling away. Whenever I’m in bed and she’s not there, the pain is almost physical. As I write this sentence, it’s Christmas Eve and I’m with my family while she is with hers. And though I was exhausted at 10:30 p.m., it’s now 3 a.m. (okay, so technically Christmas Day) and I’m having to sip a beer to help send me to sleep. I’m starved of kissing her neck. When she is here, the comfort I feel makes everything else go away, and when she is not, I am left spare. I’m still very much learning how to deal with this.


My sensitivities to someone else’s feelings are also now acute. When we had a slight misunderstanding where I thought she’d chosen to go with someone else to an event I’d have liked – which was not the case, I was being an idiot – though we both immediately apologised and reemphasised our feelings for each other, I left for work and could barely scrape my shoes across the carpet all day – okay, it’s a non-formal attire office; I could barely scrape my on-offer Asics trainers with wear holes in the corners from my huge pinkie toes across the carpet all day – and when I got home, having eaten an apple for breakfast and a few chips for lunch, I made a Friday night pizza and salad combo – not bad for me – but couldn’t eat it. Literally zero motivation for food. I forced down two thin slices, kept messaging her to apologise, then got drunk. We met on the night out and came back both emotional even though, when I say slight, I mean it was the slightest misunderstanding. A positive is we saw how much we cared for one another’s feelings. But the notion I’d done or said anything to make her feel bad in anyway ruined me.


A final drawback I’ve noticed, which is really a compliment to how things are going, is I’ve become sharply conscious of a lifespan. I cannot think about this ending, cannot think of any limit to this feeling. It hurts to. But I accidentally do and it sucks. This love is glorious and I want it to survive the collapse of the universe.


 

Worth the wait: Future reflections


Who knows what will happen, whether this will last, whether the universe will collapse and the love will remain. I hope we stay together forever, truly. The thought alone makes me smile uncontrollably and snuggle deeper into my fluffy hoodie (see below; it’s class – get one). But people change and the relationship will change. That we’ve already spoken about how we will definitely argue reassures me. Because we will. But my heart fluttered when she agreed to never go to bed angry with one another. And while it would obliterate me for a time if we ever breakup, I’m so grateful for each day we spend together. She's not only my girlfriend, but my best friend. I want to squeeze her constantly, and I really mean constantly, so tightly, and play board games, get fucked up and listen to obscenely loud music, drive to a deserted beach at night playing pop punk with a flask of tea to share, sip shit coffee in bed leant up on our pillows simply looking out the window, absolutely everything. As for sex. Words, I have none to do justice. Wow will do until a new, more appropriate language is created. Suffice to say it is the best of my life by a proverbial country mile. Because we make a point of making each other feel completely at ease and comfortable. And because of the flow of love between us. I used to get so anxious about even the sight of a bedroom door whilst with a girl, and now it’s glorious in every way. I had no idea it could be this good.


And so, while I really am overwhelmed, and while it can be stressful and I often need to just rest my head on her shoulder and slump against her body to compose myself, like Elio, played by Timothée Chalamet, in the movie Call Me By Your Name, I must write it all down. It feels like I’m describing emotions found in so many songs, movies, shows, and in real life, like it’s not original; I’m new to this party, late to it in the eyes of some. But it is the best feeling in the entire world. And I’m not trying to make anybody jealous about that and hope it doesn’t come off that way: I just want to scream about it. And to reiterate, I absolutely did not think this would happen to me! Keep your eyes and mind open and please, I urge you – I’m also addressing this to past me – stay hopeful, romantics.




From trying to play it cool to playing it straight up happy as heck.



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