I’ve spent much of my life in intimate relationships where each have consistently ended with me having a broken heart, the most recent of which having terminated late last Fall after 10 years of trying my damndest to not see yet another one fail. Having my heart get broken so painfully over and over again, I’ve come to believe that if another relationship will ever happen for me, it’s going to find me this time rather than me seek it out. Because it seems to me that those type of relationships that come together through serendipitous moments always seem to be the ones that last, like it has for this 17-yearlong couple I’ve come to know really well over the past few months as they’ve let me grow closer to them. It’s the inspiration coming from their relationship that has motivated me to temporarily come out of my self-imposed retirement from writing to share with the world what I see in them I have so desperately sought after my entire adulthood but never found. So, this is the story of how I came to know Matt and Jess, two people who have continued to not only shine upon each other for almost two decades now, but upon me as well in a very short time, shedding light into a darkness I continue to face, a darkness I’ve never known.
How I first came to know either was through Matt and that was about six or so years ago when I met him as the new store manager at the local auto-repair shop I frequented with my 2007 Camry Hybrid. What I first noticed about Matt back then was the ease at which he knew how to make customers feel like they mattered. It was a warmth like no other and one that became all the more apparent when I didn’t have a ride home one day after learning my car was going to be kept overnight for repairs. He personally drove me home that day where the conversation that ensued stuck with me favorably in all the years that followed. Why I never asked to hang out with him sooner simply could be summed up that I don’t normally like to mix business connections with personal friendships. But on a random day in the early Spring of this year, after having moved farther out into the suburbs and no longer bringing my car to his repair shop, I found myself nearby it once more after an appointment ended. For some reason, I felt compelled to stop by and say hi to him, where I quickly learned he no longer worked there and had moved on to a new place of employment. I was curious as to where that was and thankfully, I still had his cell phone number, so I opted to make a call to see where his career was taking him to next. When he answered, the conversation we had for just under an hour reminded me of an extended version from what I had with him in that car ride home all those years ago and one that really opened my eyes to someone I wanted to get to know better. You see, Matt was raised by a mother and a grandmother to accept everyone without judgment, a trait that seems to be becoming rarer and rarer in people these days. It’s something I’ve personally worked hard on becoming myself but often struggled to find so with others, especially because I’m so transparent with my life, including with my sexuality. But Matt didn’t even blink an eye about that or about any of the tumultuous life I’ve lived. Rather, he made it very easy for me to ask if he’d be open to hanging out with me sometime, which two weeks later he did. And there I got to meet his other half Jess as well, who too made me feel just as comfortable being myself, something I’ve so painfully not been able to do here in the Midwest since I moved here a decade ago.
It didn’t take me long to see the magic of Matt and Jess in our first outing together. I could see it in the way they looked at each other as they gave each other five quick kisses saying hello. I could see it in the way they anticipated each other’s needs as they ordered food and drinks. I could see it in the way they seemed to have each other’s backs as they talked about their day really listening to each other and without cell phone distractions. And I could most assuredly see in the way they talked about how they first met when I asked them about that. If you could take the highest-powered LED flashlight and turn it on, the light that shined from their souls that day as they told their initial story to me would outshine even that light and one that brought tears to my eyes. I’ve never known a love like that, not in any of my intimate relationships I’ve ever had, and not even in any friendship I’ve ever had either. What I’ve come to know is more the opposite, with experiencing one abandonment after another, abandonment that began long ago with two parental suicides and has continued to happen through all of my adult life, the last one being the most painful with what may be the greatest love I’ve ever felt from someone I nicknamed G.S. Honestly, my heart has been broken so many times, I often question why I haven’t had a heart attack thus far in life. But on some level, I am beginning to wonder if maybe God put Matt and Jess into my life not just to show me what a healthy unconditionally loving relationship is meant to look like, but also to prevent that from happening.
Nonetheless, I’ve now hung out with Matt and Jess several times a week ever since that first outing. And in all the time since, I’ve grown to really care about them in a way I never thought I would, witnessing something between them that I wish I could just bottle up and drink, which as I write those words, I can see the two of them laughing because I know one of us would most assuredly make a joke over my use of those very words. It’s one of the reasons why I like spending so much time with them, because not only do they get my humor and laugh along with me, they have a humor amongst themselves that watching it take place often lifts me up. When two people can share humor like they do with each other after almost two decades, it really says a lot. Because believe me, I’ve met many couples in my life, including sadly all of my own past relationships where the humor died away long ago, where what remains was nothing but anger and arguments. But not so with Matt and Jess, and especially not when the three of us hang out. Sometimes it really feels like we’re three teenagers spending time together with the humor that transpires between us. Humor that regularly pulls me out of the dark doldrums of my life. Jess is especially crafty with it because she’ll hold out listening in silence to Matt and I banter back and forth for a long while, until suddenly she says something so funny and so abruptly, I end up laughing uncontrollably.
Regardless, Matt and Jess have gone through a few painful things of their own in life thus far, things I’ve only come to know as I’ve grown closer to them, the biggest of which was the loss of their first child Roman deep into their first pregnancy. It was something that brought such a darkness into their lives that it became an extremely painful period to navigate through for them both, yet one that didn’t tear them apart like it has with so many other relationships in this world. I believe the only reason for that is because the incredible love they hold for each other, a love that I witness every time I hang out with them and one I know that will bless their second child soon to be born, a daughter who will be named Stevie. Honestly, I wish I had had parents that had come with the qualities Matt and Jess carry. They are going to love Stevie in a way I wish I had been loved by my own parents but never was. I knew that when I saw Jess pull in her driveway one evening bopping her head hardcore to the beats of some song by Bone Thugs and Harmony, something I know she’ll pass on to Stevie, letting Stevie beat to her own drum just like she does. And I knew the same would be true with Matt who has accepted me on a level no one ever has, something I know is going to make him an incredible father. The fact is, Matt and Jess are going to be amazing parents because they aren’t going to tell Stevie who she’s supposed to be, they’re going to let her become who she’s meant to be as she figures it all out, just like Matt and Jess have in themselves and with each other with unconditional love at the center of it all.
This is precisely why I’ve grown to love this couple as much as I have in such a short period of time and am more grateful in my heart for them than they may ever know. For every time I get to spend with them, it’s the only times in my life where my heart and soul seem to lift out of the sorrow and despair I continue to face every day trying to navigate what shards remain of my life. I am so thankful to Matt and Jess for all this love they give me because they offer it unconditionally, which is exactly why their relationship continues to last as well, as they embrace each other with the very same type of love. I can only hope and pray God will bless me with a relationship like they have one day soon. I’ve searched my entire life for that type of love and have failed to ever secure it, losing a little more of my heart through each attempt. But God bringing Matt and Jess into my life has helped my heart immensely. Their love has not only left a solid blueprint upon it for what I believe an unconditionally loving relationship is meant to look like, but also been a guiding light in this darkness I continue to face, a darkness I’ve never known. They help me fight this darkness every day without even knowing they’re doing so, because that is just who Matt and Jess are, two people you really should get to know in your lifetime and two people I will forever be grateful for, maybe more than any of my words will ever be able to say…
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson