To my Southern Belle

Dear Rachel,

I met you during a troubled time in my life. Most of the times of my life (thus far) have been troubled, though I always keep pushing forward.

Relationships scare me – you know that. I’m afraid I’ll hurt you, like I’m holding your heart in my hands each day. It’s been less than a year, and I have hurt you already, and you helped me to see that maybe that’s just a part of this thing called love: the knowing that it will hurt sometimes, but we can forgive each other and keep moving forward, living in the present moment, and building a life together.

I love your warm smile, which makes me feel safe. I love your kind demeanor, the way you walk down a street and start a conversation with anyone. I marvel at that quality because I so often look at people suspiciously, while you strike up a conversation (and even a friendship) so easily.

I love how you believe in God, but don’t push your beliefs on me or anyone else. I love how much you appreciate your family, even though you recognize there are things in the past that hurt you.

I love how you talk about childhood memories and how proud you are to be from Tennessee and down South. You’re my Southern belle and you’re kind, but fierce.

I love how hard you work; how tough you are. I love how you make me a better person and you build me up, instead of tearing me down.

I love how you touch me, how each kiss and caress seems to heal me.

Every day, I’m learning how to love you more, all of you, the parts that I like, the parts that annoy me, and the parts that are neutral.

Your definition of love is not flimsy or fickle. Your love is born of the earth – it’s tough and unrelenting, gentle but strong, loyal but unwilling to be taken advantage of, a mixture of our generation’s beliefs with the beliefs of your ancestors.

Your love sustains me when I’m running low. Your love recognizes that God is the source of all love and who we both rely on, allowing us to love each other.

Your love doesn’t back down: it’s wild like the Lynyrd Skynyrd guitar solos that make you think of back home, and it’s open and spacious like the farms you spent time on as a child.

I am grateful for your love, your Southern-fried attitude and cooking.

We’ve said this to each other before: We’ll never totally know everything about each other, though we seem to know much already.

But that’s the exciting part: the future ahead, and learning something new and becoming closer to you each day.

Love,

-Nick

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