I think about it regularly, and I feel it always. Recently I’ve been thinking about how we “love” and “are obsessed with” so many things in this click-to-like Instagram era. Where the need for affection can grow so profoundly in just an instant, that the true meaning of the word becomes cloudy. And where “love” is used so liberally in conversation that we forget the true significance of the emotion, in lieu of keeping a good dialogue going.
I think about where my heartmate and I are today. And I think about the accumulation of tiny moments that have crafted the chapters in the book that is our life and our love, together.
This holiday season will mark six years of Christmas together. And with each trip we make to Montreal during the holidays, we’re reminded of the magical city in which we first met. We visit the special places that hold significance to us from dates past, and we’re reminded of the ever developing, and ever changing love we have for one another that originally sparked in a city we used to call home.
Just last week, my heartmate and I were rearranging the furniture in our condo for a photoshoot that I had to shoot in our living room. He helped me move the dining room table, my home office desk, a few blog props, and every single piece of furniture in the living room. Throughout the chaos of upturning our humble Toronto condo, there was a moment where we both glanced at a photo hanging on our salon wall, and smiled.
It was a photo taken of us on one of our first dates together. We were lying on the grass by the water in Montreal’s Old Port, both smiling, eyes peaceful, looking toward the camera with content. In that moment, the sum of memories in our six years together came rushing back to both of us.
We were reminded of moments celebrated together; anniversaries, promotions, my graduation ceremony, birthdays, weddings. We were reminded of the decision we made to move to Toronto for the sake of our careers, ultimately uprooting the life we had built together to a foreign city. And of course, we were reminded of each holiday season spent together, families entwined, celebrated both in Montreal and in Toronto.
As we found ourselves at the start of another cold December, I was reminded of just how special the holidays can be when enveloped with love. With the passing of S’ parents, I look at how effortlessly he’s been adopted into my family’s home and assimilated into our holiday traditions. My mom likes to say she now has two sons instead of one. Three if you count my brother in law, which we do.
Christmas trees are now decorated with four hands, christmas lights hung using two ladders. Gifts given with both names marked on the card. And when I set the table I think of no other person to have by my side than my one and only.
When S and I are asked what our secret is to making our love last, neither one of us seems to have a rehearsed answer. Each time we’re asked, we usually look at each other and reflect on the moments that brought us to where we are right then and there. The moments that made us smile, or the dark times we’ve overcome together.
I think; love isn’t just the sparkle, or the shiny or the champagne and celebrations. It’s the cumulative sum of the ups and downs. It’s the laughs and the tears. Letting ourselves be vulnerable. We may bicker or argue, or sometimes unintentionally hurt one another, but we always grow stronger from it, together. Love is the sum of everything we experience side by side, and always wanting to return to the comfort of each other’s embrace.
When I think about the significance of feeling loved during the holidays, I believe that it’s rooted in the desire to share such precious moments, like Christmas, with someone special. To experience the magic of the holidays, together.
S and I feel each other’s love at different times. I feel S’ love most in the calm moments together. Sometimes just sitting on the sofa reading our books and glancing up to look at one another. Or when I’m preparing dinner and he walks in the door and smiles at me. I feel it when we’re out taking the dog for walks in the city. Or feeling his hand reach for mine on a long silent car ride.
For a long time, I’d been reluctant to share photos of us online, for fear of losing something special, something personal. After our wedding day, our friends kept asking us for photos, and I always hesitated. To me, my relationship was mine. It was precious (it still is, and always will be), but it was mine. Until I realized, that it wasn’t. It was ours. And it was our family’s, and our friends’, and it was everyone’s who ever believed in us, and who rooted for us.
My fears of losing what S and I had built together stemmed from my insecurities. But to love and be loved means letting yourself be vulnerable, and trusting your partner to support you in those moments of defenselessness.
I think about the landscape of love today, and I’m reminded that our story began before the era of dating apps. I’m reminded of how blessed we are to have one another, and of how much we’ve grown together. Like I mentioned, not everyday is sunshine and rainbows, far from it, but from the depths of hardship we emerge together, because we chose love.
I’ve always loved love.
If there’s someone special in your life, tell them you love them, because the gift of love is better than any gift you can unwrap under the tree. I promise.
Nick Joly | Inspired by Nick