The second time you fall in love.
The second time you fall in love is by no means like falling in love for the first time.
The second time you fall in love, you will look up and surprise yourself, because falling in love for the second time makes you realise your heart has the capacity to love more than one person. You realise those times you told yourself that you could never love again were wrong, because after you falling in love with someone for the first time, you can’t possibly imagine that you could love someone again, let alone have someone love you back. So you become happy with half-decent relationships and forced smiles and hands that hold that bit too loose. So when confronted with the situation that you had always been so dead against avoiding, or even believed would never rear its head, you stand stunned in the gaze of the eyes before you.
The second time you start to fall in love, you may want to bolt. You start to feel the familiar exposure of vulnerability and realise that you are finally in the position where you can be broken again; that this time a tub of ice cream or a night out or a phone call with a friend won’t be able to get you by if everything turns sour. No, this means emotional investment, and this is frightening because the only other time you fell in love, it ended with you not being able to be left alone in a room in the fear you may quite possibly drown in the pool of your own loneliness. So rather than wanting to face it all again, you’ll want to run and escape this person who has somehow harnessed to ability to penetrate your carefully constructed walls. Because sometimes you feel it would be easier and nicer and generally more pleasant if you keep people at an arm’s distance and laugh at a few jokes than really truly feel something.
But the second time is nothing like falling in love for the first time. The first time is, yes wonderful, but equally crazy and damaging and not knowing how to place a whirlwind of such vivid emotion. The first time you fall in love is spending half the time trying to find a place to put all the emotions, whilst the second half is spent throwing your arms wide and yelling to be loved. It’s spending life on a cloud and not coming down because who’ve never experienced heart-break before. You’re pure, untainted and unweighed by baggage. The first love is always a dream, until it ends and reality finally clicks over from on standby.
The second time you fall in love, it will feel more ‘adult’. It will (hopefully) feel right. It will be being able to relinquish any previous ties to the past and realise that you don’t have to judge everyone by one thing someone else has done. The second time you fall in love, it will be harder, but it will be so much more profound. It will be hesitating, asking to be loved back until they suddenly decide they’ve had enough: in that case they can give a few days notice for you to pack away your emotional baggage and get the hell out of there. But once you’re there, you can’t ask for any more. First loves can be insane and demanding, but by the second time round, you have a vague understanding of what fits. You know how to give rather than take it all in, and you learn not to take love for granted.
Falling in love for the second time is like getting back on a bicycle after not riding it for several years: it’s shaky at first, but you never really forget. And after this initial shock, everything works out wonderfully. You begin to remember the feeling of kissing someone you truly care about, and you realise just what burning bridges prevented you from acquiring: the feeling of not having to pretend to be the best possible version of you, but being able to be comfortable in your own skin. It’s being able to hold another body in your arms and treasure it. It’s wanting to give yourself over and not wish for anything in return, because you’re happy to do so. You’re not mad or crazy or even deceived by your own emotions. You just want to do it because you care.
The second time you fall in love will be different. It won’t be as dramatic or maybe not even as wild, but that’s okay. Because that excitement was short-lived. The first time gets all your crazy out and prepares you for the long haul: for true love. For love which brings chicken soup when you’re red and watery eyed and still seeing beauty. It’s taking that train across the country even though you’re both students and could really go without spending that money or time. It’s slowness and compromise and not building your life on quixotic promises. It’s loving and holding and keeping space. It’s balance and it’s healthy and it’s natural.
It’s when the good stuff finally starts.