Today I had a rather important lesson in the difference between knowledge and realization.
As with anyone who has been single for awhile, I've gotten into a rhythm of dating. It's almost imperceptible how it creeps up on someone: cautiously, almost mechanically, trying to find out if any of the dealbreakers in previous relationships can be found in your current interest.
As has not happened in quite some time, when a certain level of comfort and interest is attained, you begin to have thoughts that this is the one, so you start to entertain that idea, going about the relationship, evaluating your interaction at a deeper level, thinking, "this is cool now, but can I deal with this the rest of my life?"
Not to say that emotions and feelings aren't there, but previous dating disasters have taught you not to get hopeful. Years of dating have diminished the expectations of this relationship to the point that that the initial response is to dread the other foot dropping, something horrible to be discovered, and for it to all come unraveled. (Hey, I have a sense of pattern recognition, after all)
So, up to about two months ago, it's been a period of me keeping myself in reserve, waiting to see what will or will not happen, knowing that, on paper, Tab holds all the qualities I'm looking forward to.
I was reflecting on this yesterday in the middle of a BORING meeting (seriously...hold a staff meeting only if there is something to go over with ALL the staff.)
Something broke. I am looking forward to being with Tab. The thought of being married, not just in general, but specifically to her, is one that excites me. I finally realize just how much I have based my happiness on her well-being.
And it wasn't anything overnight. No big "Ok! I Care a lot now!" moment. Only the realization that that point had been reached.
I don't know how long that has been the case, only that I am there now.
It's amazing how you can harden your heart for years and not realize how calloused you have become. It's also weird to realize the extent to which one person can become so emotionally ingrained without you being entirely aware of the process. You women are weird.
After a lifetime of being either alone or unsure about the girls I've dated, I've finally met a girl that I can put all of my effort into. She inspires me with her drive, perplexes me with her whimsical nature, challenges me with her point of view, and shows me, without telling me, where I need to grow.
We both do realize that nothing is set in stone, and things could end at any given moment for any reason, but right now I feel happy and cautiously optimistic.