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Dear Caroline,

Yes. Yes, of course I’ll marry you. What took you so long? Where have you been all of my life?

Those are easy answers. As easy as saying “yes” as we tailor our plans a little more to the life we want. Yes, of course I want to share everything I am, was, and will be with you. In return, that’s all I want from you. I want you to share with me every tiny part of you.

Where have you been all my life? I try to suppress a giggle. Why, right here. All my life you’ve been right there. Just as I’ve always been by yours. All my life I’ve looked for you. I’ve felt you. I’ve known you were out there somewhere. But knowing doesn’t compare to seeing. I’ve always known you were there, but nothing, nothing can ever explain the change in my heart and body when I saw you. When I knew. When I gazed upon you and relished the sight of the other half of my soul. The other half of my being. Of me.

I couldn’t explain it then, not to anyone. I didn’t know the right words to make them understand how you can just know. Watching you walk to our table. Barely speaking three words. Feeling something inside of me turn over and click. Looking around at the table I’m sharing and suddenly, with the exception of the children, seeing strangers. I knew then that you were special.

Finding excuses to make a roast chicken for dinner to invite you over. The first meal I ever made for you was roast chicken, homemade mashed potatoes, and corn on the cob. Sitting across the table from you and stealing sly glances at your face. Watching you in the context of my kitchen. Making up silly reasons you can’t leave just yet. Simultaneously watching you and watching the clock, knowing you’ve got to go, but willing the second hand to stop ticking. To pause and wait. I don’t want to be away from you yet.

Finding new movies and new reasons to have you come back into my space. Any excuse will do. I don’t care. I don’t care to the point that others are beginning to notice. I just want to be near you. I want to breathe the same air molecules you are. I want to sit close to you. I want to touch you but can’t find a way to make it look casual. Not feeling the way I do.

Others have noticed. I’ve said your name a few hundred times too many. I’ve invited you over or mentioned that I missed your company too many times. I still have never touched you. But they have noticed. Everyone has noticed. There have been arguments in my kitchen. Tears shed in the living room. Circular discussions that always come back to you.

In a vain attempt to maintain boundaries, others step in and hint that it might be best to stay away. To go away. I make excuses to go see you. I watch you walk outside and I follow, pretending to need air. Leaning on the white railing overlooking the sound on the second floor deck. It’s starting to get dark. I try to find the words to explain what I’m feeling. It all comes out wrong. You hear the words coming out of my mouth, but you don’t understand what I’m saying. You hear my words but you don’t hear me. You laugh, I laugh, we make plans to get together again soon. I know what problems this will cause. And I don’t care.

I don’t see you for years.

I talk to you occasionally. You’re traveling. You’re in Europe. You’re on a boat. I try over and over again to tell you how I feel. You read my words, but don’t understand. You can’t see past my white wedding dress. I can’t make you understand, no matter how hard I try. I’m doing it all wrong.

But you can’t stay away. Not completely. There are the occasional, general emails. There are the nights when we’re alone or the times we should be doing something else that start as a “Hi, how are you?” message and don’t end for hours. I know when you’re in town. I know when you leave. Every time you go I shed quiet, private tears. I know it’s on my face. It must be. The discussions begin anew.

I run into you in the store. I stand, unsure what to say, unable to speak for the all too brief 30 seconds that you’re near me. Thirty seconds in the frozen food aisle that lasts a lifetime. I still can’t find a reason to touch you.

The ensuing argument and discussion in the parking lot, when you’re out of sight. They carry over.

Time passes. We talk occasionally, always keeping it light. But they know when it’s you. They know because there’s always a discussion about you. I wish it weren’t so obvious on my face. The smile I wear just for you.

I reach a breaking point. I’ve tried for eight years to explain it to you. I’ve tried to make it as clear to you as it is to me. Consequences are no longer a dissuading factor.

Sundays are still my favorite day.

I talked to you all day. I agreed to pick you up and go out for drinks. I ignore the voices that tell me it is wiser not to go down this path. I refused to take no for an answer even though you tried.

We stayed until closing. Me with my Jack and Coke, you alternating rum and Coke and Painkillers. After all these years, ways I had tried to come up with a casual reason to touch you, you brush my thigh, resting your hand for just a spilt second. You made it look so easy.

You fed me key lime pie. It was fantastic. We discussed how true key lime pie is yellow, not green.

It was our first walk on the beach. Watching the others laugh and go swimming. Feeling a million light years away from them. In our own universe. I try to work up the courage to hold your hand in mine, but not quite daring. Walking back, close enough to bump you, wanting to hold you, kiss you, make you understand. Settling for running through the neighbor’s sprinkler to rinse off the sand. Holding my dress out of the way. Watching you watch me.

Walking you up. Standing at the door, talking about nothing important, trying to keep your attention long enough to soothe my nerves. After all these years, I take your face in my hands. You can’t run and you can’t back away.

I kiss the left corner of your mouth, halfway between the dimples that I love so much and those lips that I’ve fantasized about. I am afraid to press my lips to yours. Afraid of what will happen.

It doesn’t matter. The earth stopped anyway. In that moment, there was only you and I. Seeing in your eyes what I thought might have been the first flickerings of understanding.

I smiled at you and left, wondering if that had been a mistake. Wondering if what I thought I saw in your eyes was only my wishful thinking.

It wasn’t.

It was the start of something pure and simple and beautiful. Something like love. Something like finding the other half of myself.

But the truth, you see, is that I have always loved you.