The Bear & The Bird

I’m kinda-sorta-maybe-a-lot-in-love right about now. I would claim I don’t know how I got here, but I do, and this is where I’ll tell you, if you stay to read. This entry was harder to write than most simply because it’s a currently evolving story, not a finished chapter from my past. I hope I do this present experience justice.

It was just another Wednesday in June of 2012 when I spotted a clever post on Facebook credited to an online friend. The original poster was some cocky-looking guy named “Judd Weiss” who’d tagged my acquaintance. After some banter back and forth in the comments I explored Judd’s profile, pictures, and website (Hustlebear.com) and found we had mutual interests and mutual friends, so I sent him a friend request.

Over the next year I’ve certainly gotten to know him (I’d dare say more than most) – I met him in person a few weeks later at Freedom Fest in July. I brought a couple of people up to a little get-together in his hotel room, and next thing I knew I had seven people following me to a great little restaurant in Las Vegas. He sat beside me, and somehow as I drank glass after glass of Sangria, I missed the fact that I was sitting next to the next great love of my life.

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I try to be aware of these things after all. Great loves make great stories, and I’ve collected quite a few over the years. Our story has challenged me, fulfilled me, inspired me and continues to keep me intrigued. I love seeing what happens next.

His birthday occurred soon after Freedom Fest, and he invited me (and probably 3,000 other people) to his birthday party. I couldn’t make it so I sent him a grateful decline message, insisting that I buy him a drink for his birthday the next time he was in Vegas. A few weeks later he was trying to sell off his Burning Man tickets before the market flooded, and I found him a buyer. He messaged me afterwards with a counter-offer, to buy me dinner when he was next in Vegas, as thanks for brokering the deal.

It was on August 22nd of 2012 we met for dinner at Firefly in Las Vegas, his treat. Afterwards we hit a bar my friend was working at to have a drink (he doesn’t drink, actually, but I bought him a soda). I call it our first date and mark our anniversary by it. It wasn’t even meant to be a date.

I don’t know why I like that part of our story so much – of our friendly coordination – just that it seems to imply a lot about the way we each look at each other, at romantic relationships, and that it is in sync. One of my favorite things about our interactions is our partnership – a free-flow of exchanged attention and value, that we are both enjoyable company and useful to one another. One partner isn’t pursuing the other, one isn’t trying to be worthy – we simply inspire, comfort, adore and appreciate one another.

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Our first several dates were spent talking until the sun rose. We have so much to say, literally and metaphorically, and on such a mutually diverse range of subjects. We share many strong opinions and we differ on a number of them as well. But our values are comfortably aligned. We both care deeply about truth, beauty & liberty, we both intensely desire to find value in and to be valuable to others. I saw that in him early, and it’s stuck with me since.

I should pause to say this isn’t a post to tell you every single event in our relationship. It’s only one year so far, and the raw intimacies are for us alone. But I feel like identifying, appreciating and sharing some parts of what has been one of the most rewarding, engaging partnerships of my life so far. The following entry will get sappy. You’ve been warned.

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Our relationship was long distance most of the past year. I lived in Las Vegas, he lived in Los Angeles. At the beginning I’d flown out to LA for work and spent a few evenings a week with him. In October he invited me to see Florence + the Machine for my birthday in LA. That night was incredible – the music touched my very soul, the position of our seats meant I actually got to touch Florence, and the tabs of acid on our tongues made the world a sea of sensation to swim in together. I wrote in my journal the next day that I knew I was going to love him. I didn’t yet, but it was going to happen.

I started to visit for a few days once a month. We’d both skip out on work and various responsibilities to spend all of our time with one another. We barely slept, like every moment together was a moment we ought to be awake, to take each other in as though our very selves were a rare and endangered species for one another. Perhaps we are – for the thrill I get with him is rare to come by.

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Despite all the awesome, towards the end of 2012 I began to consider the end of our relationship. We both had other options romantically, and different directions we seemed to find ourselves pulled in. Different needs, wants and desires. We ended up having a series of intense conversations, some of which I began to believe would bring about the end of our time together as lovers. I remember in the middle of one conversation about feeling hurt about each others’ actions, I came to this point inside myself where I realized at the end of the conversation we may no longer be together. It may be over.

I accepted it in that moment. I was terrified of losing this man I knew I was going to fall in love with, but I also knew that dragging it out if it wasn’t right was not the way to happiness. In my mind, I separated us from one another, split us up. My heart broke a little, just thinking him away like that – and I accepted that he could just be a friend, that he was a wonderful human being and a positive influence on my life and had brought such great things to it, it’s not like we wouldn’t be friends forever.

But our conversation changed there, in that moment when I’d given up what was left at stake. I had accepted the possibility that I’d never have his love, that maybe we really weren’t what each other wanted. But then we were. I looked us over in my mind, separately, and concluded that we really were *more* together than apart, and that it was worth committing to. I had given him up in a moment and then decided to intentionally make the choice to be in this relationship. Something changed, something was different. It was amazing. I’d let go, and the love I felt wasn’t from the fear of losing him – I’d faced that fear.

I’ve been committed to us ever since.

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From January on, we grew even closer. We shed the distractions of the other lovers, not to say we didn’t stray (non-monogamy and all…), but there is casual fun and there are people who take away from what we have – we both seemed to give those people up.

A spontaneous Valentine’s Day trip to LA seemed to seal some sort of official deal for the two of us – and from then I knew my move back to Los Angeles later in the year was set in stone. I was always aware I’d move back, and I did so for a job and for my own sanity (Vegas really took it out of me), but I had this flame to draw me, like a moth to light.

Suddenly I started flying to see him twice a month, four days at a time. I began to feel like I spent all my time in Vegas looking forward to the next time I’d be in Los Angeles with him. Life got blurry, then slowed down to honey-dripped perfection in his presence. I told him one night that I felt bad, every time I came to visit he paused his real life to spend his time with me. I don’t remember what chemicals we’d taken, but his response left me breathless: “no, baby, you’re not the distraction, everything else is.”

I used to write him silly love notes hidden in his shower. He’d call me when he discovered them, I’d hear the smile in his voice echoing on the tile. The only thing better than being with him was making him smile from afar.

One night as the walls spun colors and music dripped into our ears, he picked me up from the bed and we slowly danced around the bedroom, hands entwined. There were many words exchanged with varying depths of intimacy, but after missing one another over and over again, the words that echoed deepest were when he told me he was so glad that he “found” me. That moment hung around for an extended period of time, just echoing in my peripheral as the rest of the night went on.

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In June of this year I began my transition from Las Vegas to Los Angeles, and he helped me so much along the way – unloading my truck and packing my storage unit, letting me crash at his place a few days a week while I hunted for an apartment and constantly being a source of support and love and realistic expectations. He remains tremendously available for me and yet we both have a great affection for our own space. Any long-distance relationship goes through an awkward period when the partners find themselves situated more closely, but ours has been comfortable and compatible. I’m so glad to love him from so much closer now. In one year we’ve discovered one another and touched below the surface, but we still surprise each other constantly. In July, I learned he gives an incredible massage. Last week, he learned I can spin fire poi. I love that we simultaneously grow in comfort with one another but don’t come to take each other for granted. I hope it stays like that.

I probably wrote it best in a poetic Facebook status the other day: “And as I gently traced the angles of his face, his blue eyes opened and I lost sense of time and space. Our moments together blur, and often time goes far too fast – but I meant it how I said it babe – I really hope this lasts.”

Amongst all the sappy love-fest pictures and stories above, it’s a good time to recognize that we are also far from the perfect couple, though every time a friend compliments us so, I cannot help but beam with pride. We both have habits and behaviors that drive the other crazy. I can be thoughtless and inconsiderate to an extreme degree. He can make me cry with just an indication of disappointment. Neither of us mince words in our confrontations. But the two of us as a unit is greater than the sum of our parts. We’re crazy and silly and ridiculous and absolutely, disgustingly sugary sweet to be around sometimes. We’re intense. We have egos.   But we also truly, genuinely, sincerely appreciate one another, and we say it often. Some couples say “I love you”, we say “I am so fortunate”. I am so fortunate, and so happy.

If we have one more day together, one more month, one more year or one more lifetime – however long we are involved, however intensely, it’s perfect. He has made my life an adventure this past year, and I’ve no doubt he’s positively affected the general trajectory for years to come. I wouldn’t presume to speak for him and his experience with me, but I spend every day hoping I bring him as much happiness as he brings me.

A year ago he bought me dinner, I bought him a drink and we stayed up till dawn listening to music and talking. Neither of us had any idea a year ago what we’d have been through, what we’d feel now. I love how my life never stops surprising me.

Happy anniversary, my love.

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