It’s not love, not really. Not yet. Maybe it never is.

It’s just the first time someone opens the door to me, even just still keeping me outside. It’s the first time, this 32 year old me opens the door when someone knocks.

I am incredibly weary of my old habits, still haunting me every single minute. My ghosts follow me at short distance, every time a text isn’t answered within a reasonable amount of minutes, every time details for a date aren’t set in advance, with every word seemingly left unspoken. It’s the first time I ever recognise this anguish for what it is, calling it by its first name: fear of abandonment. Knowing what it is and approximately where it stems from, though, isn’t helping me yet in pushing it back to hell and sealing the door behind it. I only know it happens and it’s excruciating.

Dating like this is a struggle of titanic proportions, and in this I really do feel like an addict. Because it hurts, a lot, at times it frustrates and drains me so much I wish my heart were completely anesthetised, that I could gulp down a magic blue pill that could make me impenetrable to men, attraction and feelings. And if I could I would choose to quit.

But in the reality of things, not only I don’t want to, I can’t. I feel a deep and unconditional need of love, affection and physical contact, the kind of affection only a partner can give. Giving up on my quest would mean surrender to cold and loneliness and feeling deprived of the small joys even the slightest contact brings. Without the hope of finding someone to be close to me, I would feel dried out and hopeless.

And then there is the Ghost of Wedding Past. The crystal clear awareness that my last and only meaningful relationship ended because I as much as he couldn’t tend to it, that it was a relationship I failed to keep wanting, that I didn’t recognise as a part-time and void-filling activity more than anything else, glued together by blindness and fear of loneliness. The same fear of loneliness that makes me wonder now, and always will from here to eternity: do I care or am I just scared to let go?

In all of this, in this atomic aftermath environment, a timid light at the end of the tunnel – still unclear whether it’s the end of the dark or the headlight of the running train meeting my tracks.

More than once I’ve told myself he’s not the man of my life, because if it’s true that love can find you in the most unexpected places and perfection is not of this Earth, it is also true that there is a point in setting a baseline and if someone is excessively different from you, it is likely not going to work out.

Still, I am not thinking about eternity right now, I am not hoping for Mr. Right, I am waiting for Mr. Right Now.

And right now, it feels like I am dating for the very first time. It feels as if I were reborn. I am approaching all of this with an awareness I have never had before. Feelings should not be dissected under a microscope, it’s not that, it’s being aware of sensations and discovering the feelings that these sensations cause.

The first time we went out together I experienced something I had never felt before: at the end of the night I had the clearest impression that I had been on a date. There was no kiss or any other move, nothing practical and matter-of-fact. I wouldn’t be able to describe it any better: it’s like recognising the taste of a dish with your eyes blindfolded. You might not be able to tell the ingredients, but you definitely know it’s that one food you’re having. It might have been that I liked him physically, but I liked Hector too and it didn’t happen, it might have been the restaurant, but I’ve been to better places and it never felt like that, it might have been the conversation, but I’ve had other more stimulating and flowing ones and it still wasn’t the same. He made me feel calm, like there was no need to put up all of the barriers I tend to erect in social circumstances, even the ones I would be lead to believe are the purest example of myself. I felt free to be a woman with him, with no need to resort to strategies and deceptions, the girliest part of me, naked and shy. He made me want to be like that.

It was probably the way we look at each other. Straight in the eyes, as if the rest of the world and our own mouths were on mute, like we are resisting a magnet.

When he first kissed me, I only stopped to think of the historical value of it. I wanted and half expected him to kiss me, but the point right then and there was being kissed again, being liked again, feeling normal again. I liked it but it was too short, too early and too clumsy to tell the difference. The second time it was clear. It was clear how I was living that kiss and feeling it with every single sensor of my body with no trace of shame or self-awareness. I had never kissed someone like that before. It felt as if every single kiss in my life prior to that night had stopped at the intrinsic and social value of a kiss, I had never really enjoyed one in its simplest form.

It’s very hard to determine what of all of this was caused by him, rather than by myself. It is most probably just me, just in my head and he is just the lucky bystander. I have changed my attitude and this change would manifest itself with anyone else in his position.