I spent a long time deciding how to write this introduction. While the Architect traced circles over my collarbones in bed one night, I told him I was having trouble writing about him just yet. He waited, knowing he didn’t need to say anything to ask me for more. “I just want it to be about you,” I told him, “and not just about how I feel about you.” He nodded, dropping tiny kisses on my shoulder. This is a concern, you see, because how the Architect makes me feel could cover page after page. He is the only married man I’ve ever loved, but that’s not what makes my feelings for him unique. To be honest, I am suspended in disbelief every moment I am with the Architect, or thinking about him, daydreaming his voice in my ear or his lips on my thigh. If I let myself use logic – even for a moment – to try and explain anything about my Architect and me, my thoughts are muddied. Love needs no logic, even if (especially because?) it always does make sense in a way.
The Architect and I had our first date at a local bar under less-than-ideal circumstances. I had one of the worst colds of my life, and although I’d disclosed this before our meeting, the Architect had assured me he didn’t care. He presented quite a picture, waiting for me at a table as I walked slowly over to him. The Architect’s compact athletic frame makes him equally well-suited to be a wrestler, a runner, or a rower. He is that kind of “black Irish” with inky dark hair and snow-white skin; his eyes are quick, rich brown, but he has admitted his brothers and sisters have the characteristic blue eyes of his breed. He wore a red sweater; likely a nod to the note in my profile about red being my favorite color.** I nursed a beer and finished half a bag of cough drops while we talked about the standard safe subjects. The Architect kept giving me a look I termed “serious face”. I asked him about it: “What are men thinking, when they give me that face, that ever-so-serious face?” He claimed innocence, and I found it charming over exasperating. We had plenty to talk about (although I can’t remember a single topic), and when we said goodbye in the parking lot that night, he hugged me. I glanced around over his shoulder, picking an aging bright yellow sportscar as his, and drove away laughing when I was right.
I wasn’t sure he was all that interested in me – his reactions to me that night could have been polite disinterest or nervous pleasure – but I was delighted when he wanted to see me again. And again, and again. The Architect’s serious face continues to sidetrack me, but after a few dates, I figured out which thoughts were likely to be behind it. It usually means he’s thinking good thoughts about me – these days I can even tell the difference between “You’re beautiful”, “I love you”, “I’m deciding what not to tell you”, and “I want to nail you to the fucking wall right this second.” After four or five dates, the Architect asked that I meet his wife. Rather, his wife demanded to meet me. “I don’t meet the spouses of people I date,” I told him. He answered me by keeping silent, like he often does. “Fine,” I said. “Thank you for doing this for me,” he said. And that was the first time I fell a little bit in love with him – when he recognized that I was doing it for him against my better judgment.
I fell in love with the Architect bit by bit this winter. Every time he’d come to visit me, we’d spend a few hours in bed at the end of the night, kissing, laughing, fucking, and sharing every- and any-thing that came to mind. And all winter long, every time he came to visit me, a beautiful snowfall happened while we were lost in learning each other this way. I’d dream of him and wake up to snow; step out of my office to find snow falling and immediately feel my phone vibrate with a text from him. I had never liked snow as an adult before, and suddenly it had all the beauty and magic of childhood restored to it. (Listen, I know it sounds like poetic bullshit. I already told you why I couldn’t write this damn intro. THIS IS WHY, dear readers. THIS IS WHY.) The Architect sneaked into my thoughts more and more often. And soon, I found myself tasting the words “I love you,” in my mouth whenever we were together.
Rather than chew them up and swallow them away, I finally started spitting them out, sometimes laying them like jewels in the palm of his hand, sometimes pouring them into his ear while he kissed my neck, sometimes infusing his name with them and just breathing it to him – “Architect- ” in the still of the room. “I can always tell that love is truth,” I told him the other day, “when the words just fall into my mouth over and over.” He twined his fingers in my hair. “For me,” he said, “it’s when you are always present in the back of my mind, and can take over and completely distract me at any moment.” And so, you see: the Architect is the only married man I’ve ever loved – but other than limiting his availability (and who am I to talk about limited availability?), his marriage doesn’t affect us. No, the Architect is unique for all sorts of other reasons. And as you may have guessed from what you’ve already read here, I date a lot, and I am often fond of and even attached to the people I see … but I almost never fall in love.
Every time I am with the Architect, purring like a contented cat while he moves his hands over and slowly over my skin, painting me with his love, I am certain of just a few things. I am calm and quiet after we spend our energy fucking each other; the Architect is a shore to my sea. I am always certain everything will be all right. Although he tells me often enough, holding my gaze for a few beats before saying the words, whispering them into my ear in the moments before he comes, or in a surprise noontime text, I am certain he loves me. And I am certain beyond a shadow of a doubt that love is foolish. A line of Barbara Kingsolver’s scrolls through my mind, in the voice of her character, a single father whose daughters have faced down death alone in the canyons: “it is senseless to love anything this much.” The Architect looks up at me through his starry eyelashes, winds his fingers gently through my hair. “I love you,” he says to me. “Fool,” I grin. “Who’s more foolish,” he asks, “the fool or the fool in love with the fool?” His goal is my giggle; he can hardly hear me laugh without mashing our mouths together in a triumphant kiss. “Wait,” I say, “which one am I?” Of course I am both, we are each both – and foolishness is always so delicious.