To N, on approaching the anniversary of the fourth month of our epic romance
As a child, I never dreamed of being a beautiful princess. I always dreamed of being the knight in shining armor coming to the princess’ rescue. I developed an elaborate fantasy life as a way of coping with and escaping from stressful situations. In these dreams, my acts of self-sacrifice, heroism and bravery always ended with a passionate kiss from my love. I was a product of the 80s and this I believed was what true love was meant to be — grand, sweeping, an epic quest. Like Star Wars, or Dungeons & Dragons.
As I grew older, I began to date. I always hoped to find ‘the one’ who would love me for exactly who I am. Someone who sees me and who cares for me, tenderly, as I care for them. I loved many who I thought were ‘the one’. I loved making grand romantic gestures and the theatre of romance. I was willing to put it all on the line for love, but despite this, dating never seemed to work out the way I had hoped. At first I felt compelled by the damsel in distress types, the ones who are always in a crisis, who are waiting to be rescued. But ‘hurt people hurt people’ as they say, and I quickly learned that just because someone says they love you, and relies on you, doesn’t mean that they won’t lie to you or break your heart.
I could never seem to find someone to love me the way people in movies fell in love. After going to the ends of the Earth for love, I didn’t really want to be with someone who only loved me ‘so-so’, or just wanted something with ‘no strings attached’. But eventually, I gave in. I stopped believing in romantic love. I settled for ‘close enough’ or ‘whatever I could get’. When things turned to shit, I would practice my best form of self-defence, and escape. Often this was through alcohol, or Facebook, or gaming, or porn, or something else. Eventually, things would always fall apart, and the cycle would begin again.
This happened, in many ways, over and over again. I hurt my fair share of people too. I had scars, from childhood, from living in a transphobic society, and from my parents’ divorce. These wounds had never fully healed.
I started to make my own plans for a life of my own, to live the best life that I could live. I was lucky — one night, while scrolling Facebook, I saw an ad for relationship coaching. Put of all of the 1000s of ads that I could have been shown, James’s was the one. He said that he could help any guy find the love of their life, beyond their wildest dreams. I didn’t believe him, of course. But some small part of me hoped that maybe it was true. I signed up.
As part of coaching, James made me write a list of all of the things about me that made me deserving of love, what I bring to a relationship, what my goals are in life. He also made me write a list of all the things I *wanted to* try and do that I’d never done. He encouraged me to live a big life and be true to my ideals.
Somewhere in my box of things that I never open, there is a list of qualities that I was looking for in a partner. James made me write it as part of the course. I sat down and was really honest with myself about the kind of person who I would want to spend my life with. The woman of my dreams wasn’t a damsel in distress or a princess. She was — and is — a queen. She is fierce, and she is gorgeous. Perhaps she knows that, too. I wanted someone who is creative, inspiring, dynamic. And I wanted someone who is family-oriented, loyal, loving, caring, intelligent. Someone articulate, who can write, and who loves books and reading. Someone who is not like a typical cis het person, or queer person. Someone who isn’t afraid to love deeply. Someone who understands me deeply and who is proud of me, and proud to be with me. Someone who has been through shit and who is still educated, ethical, and ambitious. Someone who would hold me and I would hold them. Someone kind, soft and gentle when needed. An equal partner who was just as talented, driven, dedicated as I was. Someone with similar goals, who wanted to start a family one day. Deep down I also hoped that she was a femme — pretty, with long, dark hair, and expressive, dark eyes, and preferably someone whose background and family of origin was as different to mine as possible. I hoped she would perhaps speak another language and have lived outside of Australia. Above all I wanted someone who loved me unconditionally and who could challenge me and teach me new things about the world — things I’d never learnt before. I really made a list of qualities that I thought were unattainable. I never expected for it to actually come true. But it turns out that fate had other plans.
I didn’t know this at the time, but this was the beginning of a real life epic quest. I realised that if I was ever going to find or be with someone so amazing, I had to become and embody all of these things myself. It was because of James I took up nature photography, did French lessons, started writing again, and joined a local choir. It was also through coaching that I finally found the resolve to stop drinking, after realising the harm it was doing to my relationships. And it was through James that I began to regain my faith in true love. It was the beginning of the process that would eventually, two years later, lead me to you. I finally realised what I needed to do, if I was ever going to find the love of my dreams. My quest led me to some interesting places — to Sydney and the Blue Mountains, to activism and back again, and to a newfound understanding of what I wanted in life and who my chosen family were. Finally it led me back to my old home in Melbourne.
I don’t know why I downloaded the HER app when I did, or what made me reactivate my profile. I think I was trying to mentally escape from the chaos of Dan’s household. I was staying there temporarily while I landed in Melbourne, still yet to fully realise my goal of creating a life that I didn’t want to escape from. It was a work in progress.
I was swiping through the app when I saw a photo and with a sense of shock I thought— this is exactly the woman of my dreams. She is real after all. It was you.
I knew that I wanted to meet you, I wanted to know you. The spark of desire was immediate. I had no idea if we would be compatible — it was obvious from your photo alone that we both came from different worlds. But as I read your profile, I felt more and more attracted to you. You were funny, smart, and literate. You liked yoga, were sex and body positive, a trans ally, and sober. You seemed too good to be true. I swiped right and put the phone down, expecting nothing.
I was in the car with Lana when I got a notification — you have a new match. You messaged me about the book I had mentioned in my profile, the one by Kaya Wilson. I felt at that moment, a sense of nervousness and joy. Finally, I had found you. I had better not fuck this up.
Four months later, and we are getting ready to spend our first ever Christmas together. In just a few short months we have stood by each other and cheered each other on while we pursued our best lives. I love you beyond words. I want you to know, that you embody in every way everything that I asked the universe for. You are the love of my life, and I am grateful every day to be with you.