It took years for me to feel that way again.
Heartache sort of ripped my emotions from me, and I feared for the longest time that I'd never have the emotional capacity to love someone so deeply again.
The idea of a relationship just didn't feel the same. But then again, how could it?
It wasn't that I was opposed to loving someone, believe me I wanted to. But I was opposed to allowing someone in; giving them an opportunity to hurt me after everything I had been through.
And I had met plenty of women up until that point. All were beautiful in their own ways but I just didn't see a future with any of them. There was this lack of a connection that I so desperately yearned for.
That was important to me.
To be able to look at someone and say,
"I want to know more about you"
was something I had always felt came from a deeper place.
Sure, looks would draw you in, but substance ... that's what kept you coming back.
And that's what she had ... substance.
There was this depth to her. When she spoke, she spoke with purpose.
I wanted that in my life. Someone who I could learn from and build with. A woman who inspired me to be a better man.
I'm not sure I had ever met someone who was more sure about what they wanted out of life than her. Her vision rolled off her tongue so fluently, and her drive ... it was unlike anything I had ever seen before. She was tenacious, yet humble at the same time.
Day in and day out she'd amaze me with how hard she worked, and how she'd never quit regardless of the obstacles she faced.
And she had a way of always making me feel that the man I am is the man I always should be; regardless of the shortcomings I had faced prior in life. She never judged me, or made me feel as if I wasn't worth her time.
She'd even compliment me in ever so subtle ways, and take the time to show her interest in my own aspirations for life.
And I feared all of that ...
I just wasn't ready for another disappointment. Losing her would have been just that.
But on that day, I pushed all of my fears aside.
I glanced up at her and immediately my heart began to race. I watched as she smiled in my direction. And that feeling that I felt inside, it was if I had loved her in a prior life.
I never imagined someone could silence an entire city like that. But that's what she did; she made New York City stand still.
Amidst all of the crowds, all the noise, and all of the energy that brought this city to life, I couldn't focus on anything but her.
This was my home; a city that I had navigated through for so many years. Beauty outfitted every single block. But on that warm afternoon, I found myself lost in something even more beautiful than the city itself.
My God, was she breathtaking.
She reminded me of a canvas painting filled with so many different layers. On the surface, she was filled with such beautiful detail. But it was only until you uncovered the meaning behind the portrait that you truly saw the whole picture.
That's when you begin to admire it for something less obvious.
So while her hair fell perfectly on her shoulders, and her smile shined so bright, it was her eyes that told a story. One of her hopes and dreams, her worries and fears.
A story that I wanted nothing more than to uncover, and read over and over again.
I'm not sure I had ever wanted to add value to someone's life the way I did hers.
She was so talented, so full of life ...
I was fortunate. Out of all these men who had thrown themselves at her, vying for her attention, she willingly gave hers to me.
And I always wanted to know why. Why me?
We grabbed lunch in Midtown that day. The skies were clear and the sun glistened amongst the onslaught of skyscrapers. Temperatures reached the mid 70's, which was ideal for that time of year in New York City.
We spoke about everything; life, love and our aspirations for the future. And everything she shared with me mattered, quite simply because I knew it mattered to her.
Her voice quickly became my new favorite song; it was so soothing to listen to. It somehow brought me to a place I had never been before.
I watched as she fondled with her hair, and smirked in my direction. And I couldn't help but smile right back at her.
And while there was this excitement in her voice when she spoke about what she loved, I sensed this pain behind her eyes. One that she hid ever so gently.
She didn't seem so certain when she talked about this one particular part of her life. There was this hesitation, as if she was trying to tell me something indirectly. But I had an idea I knew why.
Maybe it was from all the men who neglected to love her the way she deserved to be loved. Or maybe it was because it didn't feel natural to sit with one who genuinely cared about her dreams; one who wanted nothing from her but her time.
I looked at her right in the eyes. And I saw every broken piece of her heart that she tried so tirelessly to cover up. Her insecurities ... I saw every one without her ever uttering a word.
I wanted those parts that she tried to throw away. The parts that she was convinced nobody would ever love.
She was so much more than this beautiful face; she was a strong woman. One I wanted to build my life with .... one who's dreams I was so committed to making come true.
And I think that's what hurt me the most. Knowing how amazing she was, how kind of a heart she had and all the passion she exuded for what she loved ... never being appreciated by a man.
I couldn't help but wonder how good I would have been to her. How much I could have loved her and protected her from this ugly world.
I heard every word that she chose not to speak and watched every tear that she held back fall right down her face. And I wanted so desperately to grab her hand, hold her in my arms and tell her that I would never hurt her, that I would never make her feel unappreciated ... but I couldn't.
It wasn't my place. Not now anyway ...
After lunch, we took a walk around New York City.
Something so familiar began to feel so different because for the first time, I had her right by my side. It was exactly how I envisioned this all to feel.
I looked at her .... with these eyes I've never looked at a woman with before. I even remember glancing back at her, and caught her smiling at me.
Who would have thought a smile could pierce through a heart like that?
Little did she know, on what seemed to be just another day in Manhattan, she changed my life forever. The way I looked at her, the way my heart skipped, the way I desired her in my life ... she made me believe in love again.
Even if for a few hours, on the greatest stage in the world she gave me back something I feared I had lost forever.
And for that, my only wish was to make time stand still. But I couldn't.
So I savored every moment.
I adored her. But I valued her space.
And I believed there was something significant about silence; it's important to allow people the time to figure it all out on their own.
This was her life, who was I to ever tell her I belonged in it?
Without ever saying a word, I knew she was aware of my interest and my intentions. But I wanted her to be able to digest every feeling I had for her, internalize it, and understand it's true meaning.
Exhibiting an aggressive nature when we want something often leads us nowhere. So I was willing to be patient, and wait for something I felt in my heart was well worth it.
I was no stranger to goodbyes; I had said plenty in my life prior. But I held her a little tighter that afternoon, uncertain if I'd ever have that opportunity again. And I can still smell the scent of her skin, and feel the softness of her lips as she kissed me on the cheek.
But a goodbye is always a goodbye ..... until next time.
Writers ... they've written books about these kinds of things. Filmmakers .. they've produced blockbusters with stories like this.
But this was my reality and she was my very own love story.
And if I had to do it all over again, I'd choose her. In a hundred lifetimes, in a hundred worlds, in any version reality, I'd find her and choose her.
Because I never wanted her for just one night.
I wanted her forever ....