Today was the first day back from our vacation to Hawaii.

I’m still decompressing.

Ray spent last night with me in my bed, as we had both agreed that my bed out of the two we own is the most comfortable, and after over a week spent on a tired mattress on Oahu, it would be the most restorative sleeping arrangement.  Truth be told, I needed him to spend last night with me.  I needed him to be in my bed because I have grown very used to having him by my side at night.  I have grown accustomed to the contours of his body, the pulse of his heart, the inhale and exhale, the unconscious reach of his arm around my torso.  I needed all of this last night as my body resumed it’s place back in Portland, back in reality.

We had some of the most extraordinary experiences on Oahu.  From sunrises on the terrace of our hotel, to sunsets on Waikiki, to the northwest point, to the north shore waves, to the eastern bays, and western desolation, the island gave us so much to take in; too much, almost, for any person to absorb in eight short days.  We gave it our best shot, though, and with the top down on the rented Mustang, and a million billion stars sparkling overhead, swooping around corners and through fields and skirting around jagged volcanic edges, we both found something that we could embrace and take home with us.  For me, having these existential moments was made even sweeter by the squeeze of his hand, the stroke of his fingers on my knee, the reflection of his smile in the rear-view mirror.  The smile lines on his face seemed deeper, fuller than I’d seen in a long, long time.  He needed this break in reality and so did I.

None of this would have been possible if it were not for him.  The air fare, the car rental, all of the food, the room, the planning, the details, the investigation – all of these things were brought to the table by him.  I still wonder what I brought, though.  I am paying him back, over time, with my meager income.  I will help him pay down the credit card bill, as is my duty.  Still, though, I wonder why I was there, in those moments, with him.

Perhaps the answer is caught in the photos I took.  The smile on his face, the wonderment I witnessed as he rose up out of the surf, gleeful, telling me all about the sea life he swam and snorkeled with.  The group of sea turtles, the hundreds of fish, acres of coral, and miles of soft sand all gave him such wonderment and joy.  His giggle, as he watched me revert into a young boy rolling around in surf too high to go swimming in and powerful enough to inspire awe with each rumble and roar of the waves, might hold the key as to why I was allowed to join him on this adventure.  His hand grasped mine as the sun sank below the western horizon, while giant waves broke along the golden ragged shore, grinding away at the ancient lava floes, reshaping the island with each massive stroke and swath of water.  I could hear his sigh as he paused to take it all in beside me, those two blessed minutes between the sun touching the surface of the water and when it disappeared beneath the waves.  I witnessed the man I love falling back in love with the world around him, and it left me breathless.

I am forever changed by this experience, and I know it.  I have been able to see and take part in a world that is not my own, but that I am a part of, and want to know more about.  It was fleeting, and somewhat filtered, but it was real.  We put down the guide book and stayed away from the places that the tourists were herded like mindless sheep, and set off to find our own way, find our own path on those distant shores, and that made all of the difference.  Knowing that Ray operates in this manner, that he seeks the road not over-tread, not shaped and forced so as to be a marketable (and profit-driven) entity, is one of the thousand reasons I love him.  He, like me, wants to live an authentic life, and be present in both moments of his own creation and moments that are presented to him.

I think the biggest take-away from the trip, along with the bits of sand in my suitcase that I am hesitant to dump out, is the lesson in being in the here-and-now of our lives.  From the start of this relationship, Ray has insisted that we remain present-tense.  At first, I thought this was a fear of the future, of putting pressure on tomorrow at the expense of overlooking today.  In some way, that is true, and adding the existence of separate pasts that haunt us both and have an effect on how we perceive both the present and future, we have both had to work really hard at keeping ourselves from being caught up in the planning and hope of tomorrow.  I continue to struggle with it, and from time to time, I get caught up in pinning my happiness on what is to come, rather than finding the pleasure in now.  Ray has been teaching me to get better with this, and when he makes me look upward, outward, and all around me from a very pinpoint place (geographical, emotional, or otherwise), I can’t help but take this as yet another lesson in how to actually live.

I have so much more to learn, but through it all, I remain humbled, fortunate, and madly in love with Raymond.  This is far more than I ever thought possible in my life, and sometimes I can’t quite fathom how I got so lucky.  I am beyond thankful.  I am simply rendered speechless.

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