The way he pulled you to him in the kitchen, arms tight around your waist, the heat of him on your back, his cheek – the whiskers just starting to bristle – against yours, stopping you from whatever you were doing – wiping down the counters, putting dishes in the sink – stopping your heart, stopping time.
The way your limbs tangle when you sleep – his arm beneath your neck, the other draped across your stomach – one leg between yours, your toes nestled against the ball of his foot; the heat of your bodies where they meet; the tickle of his breath against the fine hairs of your neck; how, even in sleep, he hates to let you go, groaning softly if you move; recasting his body around whatever position you choose; pulling you close even in his dreams.
The way he pauses behind you on his way into the office, to smooth your hair, to kiss your mouth, your forehead, your mouth again; to say “I love you” as though the fifteen feet that separates you is ten thousand miles.
The way he strokes your back as you curl into each other, recounting the day’s frustration, success, anguish.
The way he kisses you awake in the morning, forehead, mouth; says “I love you” ten times before he leaves, smoothing the covers over you; kisses you a dozen times, not wanting to wake you fully, but wanting to make sure you know: his love is too important for you to sleep through.
* * * * *
Nearly nine years we’ve been together.
The intensity of those first few months is gone – the instant ache of being apart, the all-consuming flame of need, the hunger for each other’s presence. Has been gone for years, replaced by a steady fire that warms and comforts but no longer threatens to devour us.
But this is new.
It’s as if we’ve fallen in love all over again.
But not falling this time – no sensation of the floor dropping out beneath us.
Instead, we’re buoyed by this feeling. Lifted, like a giant balloon, bobbing on currents of this all-encompassing joy; floating; giddy. Loved, loving. Happy, in a way we’ve never been before.
* * * * *
Remember this, on cold winter nights, when the fire is low.