We go running in the mornings.  Not every morning, though Manfriend probably would if I asked him to.  “How about three times a week?” I said.  “Twice on weekdays and a long one on Saturday.”  Last Saturday we ran eight miles.  Manfriend wants to say we jogged it.  He’s still getting used to my liberal use of the word “run.”  But I told him what I tell everyone—“Running is anything that is harder than walking.”  He seemed persuaded.  Or generous.  I’d love him for either.

We eat dinner together every day, with the exception of Tuesdays, when he has an evening thing, and Thursdays, when he volunteers as a tutor.  I spend those nights trying not to resent the reasons that take him away from me.  “Those darn kids with needs!” I think.  But I read the troubles of the DC public schools and tell myself I’m doing my part to help.

He never hesitates to say he’s sorry.  He tells me easily and often how great I am.  He says it like this: “Obviously, you are wonderful.”  He holds my hand in public.  He puts his hand on my hip as he moves me to the safe side of the sidewalk.  He closes his eyes when I scratch his head.  He closes his eyes and he smiles.

We are learning things.  How to talk to each other about public policy without feeling defensive.  How to do work when we want to not do work.  How to go to bed early and wake up early, despite the attraction of more conversation, of more attraction, of more time with roommates.  (This is a serious we’ve-left-each-other-now-directly-to-bed peril: We each have wonderful roommates.  Distractingly wonderful roommates.)  I am learning how not to hate the cold and the dark and exercise, if Manfriend is there.  We are learning how to have hope in change.

We are learning to say truer and truer things to each other.  One of these days, we’re going to know how to say our very truest things.  We might, by then, have grandchildren.

Still, we don’t know if we will get married.  (Living in Zion, did you hear that?  We still don’t know if we’ll get married.)  But we are delighted and not scared when other people make the mistake of thinking we are engaged/wedded, and that is a good sign.  Dating someone I could actually marry is WAY more fun than dating someone I could actually not.

Even when I am crying—even when I am feeling sad at his decisions, at mine, at my too-small heart and lame attempts at loving—part of me is thinking, “Isn’t this fun?  This is so fun.  What I’m feeling is so real.”  This embarrasses me.  I worry the teenage-Anne-Shirley in me has not really gone.

We have trips planned.  We are going to New York this weekend.  We are going to New York for Valentine’s Day.  We are going to California for Reija’s wedding in June.  We’re going to the movies.  We talk about Boston and Arkansas/Tennessee/Kentucky (the three states I need to reach my goal of 50 by 30) and Portland (where his sister lives).  And when Manfriend has met some of his professional goals, we’re going to go someplace awesome like Hawaii.  It feels like daydreaming; it’s likely to come true.  Whose life is this?

Please don’t say our love is cute.  Or you can, I guess (it is, in many ways, adorable), but feel reassured: We have fought.  We are communicating.  Everyone we talk to wants those things to be true, apparently so we don’t fall into the trap that others do (do they? really?) and think that true love means never having to say you’re sorry.

But you should know, I was raised watching What’s Up, Doc?.  And it ends, if you don’t remember, with this important truth:

Howard Bannister: I’m—I’m sorry for the things I said back there.

Barbra Streisand/Judy: Listen, kiddo.  Love means never having to say you’re sorry.  [Eyelashes flutter.]

Howard Bannister: That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.

And, with a kiss, The End.

Sounds good to me.