a year

It's been a year.

At Blues in the Hudd, late November last year, Liam asked me to dance on the Sunday night. At the same time, I had let my friend Michael borrow my baby just for fun, and he happened to take a photo of me and Liam dancing. I have a photo of our very first dance ever. I treasure it. (I wrote about that dance here.)

Not two weeks ago, I handed over my baby to Michael again and asked him to capture us now. Me and the love of my life.

It started suddenly, intensely. There was no stopping it. Two dance floors - a Sunday night at Blues in the Hudd, and a Saturday night two weeks later at Blues Baby Blues. At 5:30 in the morning, on our way home, he messaged me and asked if I wanted to see him the day after. I said yes. Four hours of walking and hot chocolate and kisses in London on a Sunday afternoon. Our first and only date; nothing else was needed after that.

Hours and hours on the phone. Hundreds of messages each day. Seriuos sleep deprivation. I posted this in December, after he'd been to see me in Gothenburg for the first time; we had known each other for two weeks then, but we already knew it was something big. We recieved so much love from people when they realised we were together. People who knew us both since long before we met each other, reacted with "OMG OF COURSE!!! You two are gonna be AMAZING TOGETHER!".

Others worried about how different we are. I worried too. And hurted. Going in, we wanted really different things from a relationship. I struggled a lot with that, knowing that this would never work long term. My point of view was - and I was very honest about that - "this is going to be amazing and fun and beautiful for three or four months, and then this will be too difficult and I'll break up, and it's going to break my heart but it will be worth it". We've done complete honesty and complete openness about everything right from the start. I couldn't do it any other way. I'll enjoy it while it lasts, I thought (and said). I've never been loved like this before; I'll enjoy it while it lasts.

I went to see him in January, and stayed ten days. That felt unusual, but not weird or wrong. That's when I wrote this:
I can't explain it better than this: I have finally, finally found someone who can match me. In honesty, in openness, in emotional intelligence and courage, in energy, in passion, in willingness to do the work, in joy, in vulnerability.
And I am grateful for everything that has happened in my life, that has made me into the person I am today.
And I am grateful for everything that has happened in his life, that has made him into the person he is today.
So that we could meet, and be this.

I have finally, finally found someone who can match me.

Weekends together: A weekend in Gothenburg, a weekend in Delft, a weekend in Valencia. (Long distance is a lot easier when both of you are dancers, and both of you already travel a lot for dancing - you can just start going to the same events! :)) I was happier than ever before. I was also still struggling, knowing that sooner or later, this will have to end.

Turns out I was wrong. I got everything I wanted, three months in. I never asked for it. I didn't have to.

And then he surprised me at Hygge Blues in Copenhagen and it was pretty much the best present anyone's ever given me.

I spent a lot more time in the UK in the spring; here are a couple of favourite blog post from that time (there are many more in the archives): Caernarfon, scones, Tate and spring, Sunday at London Lindy Exchange, Hullzapoppin' 2018 part I, Trevliga Trions vårfest.

And I wrote this: It's difficult to restrain myself from completely immersing myself in the mutuality of this, the togetherness. I'm full to bursting with smiles and bubbles, delighted and slightly embarrassed at how much time he apparently can spend gazing adoringly at me, across rooms full of people, and while I'm dancing in class, my dance partner says "you know, it's so lovely how Liam can't keep his eyes off you while you're dancing". I didn't know it was so obvious to other people, but the fact that there's no use in trying to hide something of this magnitude is the warmest feeling.

This love is happening, and I trust it. I'm not making it up. It's happening, and I'm in it, acutely aware of it in the moment, not reviewing it after it's passed, deciding something was love because I needed it to be, carefully putting pieces together to create a picture I imagined I wanted ... this is not that. It's happening, I'm living it, right now, savouring it. This is by far the most beautiful thing I've ever been part of. Who knew that this is what love would be like?

Who knew that this is what love would be like?

Spring turned into summer and I wrote a blog post titled Plans. I meant to write a blog post explaining our plan for me to live in the UK with Liam all summer, but it became a love letter. That's when I wrote this:

For a person as emotional as I am, I've been fairly level-headed about love, before. I knew that nobody's perfect and no one has everything, that relationships are hard and you have to compromise and make sacrifices. And within the first few weeks of every relationship I've ever been in, I've found something that's made me feel "if this particular thing doesn't change, this can't last". But we can work on that, I thought; I'll compromise, nobody's perfect, everything takes work. And then, when we've broken up, sometimes years later, it’s always been over that particular thing that I saw right from the start. That thing that I thought I could live with, that we could work through, that could change. Most of the time, that thing was communication.

There’s nothing like that with Liam. I want it all.

I do understand theoretically, that he wouldn't be everyone's first choice. (Though how could he not be, because he's perfect.) But I still feel like life is really unfair for all the people who don't get to be with him. To be honest, there aren't enough men like Liam to go around, and this particularly fine specimen has chosen me, in the same way that I've chosen him - a very active choice, every day.

And I know now, that if this ever breaks, I will never settle for anything less than this. If this breaks, I will have to find something as wonderful and rich as this, or I'll stay single. I'll be single, living a rich life with the most wonderful friends in the world, my work, my travels and my life, rather than going into something less than this just because society dictates that we’re somehow less (most especially women) without a partner. I will never ever accept something that's anything less than this, now that I've had it. The days of "if it wasn't you it would be someone else" are over. This is the complete opposite of that. If it's not Liam, I don't want it.

But it
is Liam.

But it is Liam.

Summer in the UK was wonderful and difficult. I wrote about the difficult bits here. The wonderful bits were many: a trip to the Peak District, the Spoonful and a weekend in London among many other things. Also, ordinary life.

In august, Liam visited me in Gothenburg and we went for swim in the lake where I grew up (worth a special mention since they don't swim outdoors in the UK and I adored swimming with Liam).

Autumn was littered with more dance events (obvs): Dig Deeper, Balboa Castle Camp, Edinburgh Lindy Exchange, Mersey Swing Smackdown and Bristol Bal Loon Exchange.

And some other beautiful things, my birthday party for example. I've spent a LOT more time in the UK than Liam has in Sweden during this past year - because he has an office job and I'm self employed, I'm in charge of my own time in a way that Liam is not. If I go there for the weekend I can stay four nights, whereas he can most often only stay two nights here. I don't regret the decision to spend so much time in the UK (at all!), and I've cherished the time that Liam's been able to spend here with me, in my home country.

We went for a walk in Snowdonia. One of the most beautiful days of my year and my life.

I wrote Plans, part II - a follow-up to the first plans blog post, about my plan to live in England for six months. It's a love letter, too, like the first one.

It's been a very heavy year, too. The thing about finding someone who can match me ("in honesty, in openness, in emotional intelligence and courage, in energy, in passion, in willingness to do the work, in joy, in vulnerability"), that I didn't realise when I used to wish for it, is that they will challenge you. This relationship has brought tons of my old insecurities and fears out in the light, and I've had to deal with them all. In all honesty, it's taken all my spare energy this year, and then some. A lot of things I love to do have been kept on the back burner because I chose, and keep choosing, this relationship.

It would be a lot easier - and certainly a lot safer - to choose someone who wouldn't trigger all those old issues in me. Most people, I think, never deal with that shit. Someone less courageous than me wouldn't have made it. But I am courageous. And emotional and sensitive and brutally honest (Liam jokes that my moral flexibility is approximately 0; he's not wrong), and this relationship is the only one I've ever been in that has space for all of it. All of me.

I'm keeping it. Forever, if I can.

Jacob Collier & the Metropole Orkest | Human Nature

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