You Just Know

A few months ago. Me, in a lounge with two married colleagues. One of them is pregnant with her second child. We take a break from the day-to-day and talk, of course, of love.

Me: “How did you guys know that you had found the one, that this—this man—was it?”

They look at each other for a moment, and then they look at me. The non-pregnant one says what both want to say:

“You just know.”

Future mommy of two nods her head. Their smiles tell me that they know something that I don’t, that—somehow—they hold a secret that only time and circumstance can share. I can sense in their calm that they live in a different world, one collapsing past, present, and future at once; they seem fueled by nostalgia, contentedness, and an assured hope, all in the same breath. In that unspoken moment, they reveal as much as they can about this thing I did not have: That with it, the beginning is good, life only gets better, and tomorrow holds so much more. That look in their faces: that’s what it meant to “just know.”


Early April. The other side of knowledge.

I know. Maybe I think I know but don’t really know, or maybe I only know part of something bigger and don’t have a complete grasp of the whole project of knowing quite yet. But I do feel like I know, and therefore, for all intents and purposes, I know. I know. I know.

And I could describe for you how I know, but perhaps that ruins the project of knowing for you. You could misguidedly take my knowing and have it prescribe your own search for knowing, but perhaps knowing for you will be different from knowing for me. I could describe for you how I know, but perhaps it only applies to how a gay college-educated Filipino Californian knows that he is head over heels for a gay college-educated Czech/Welsh/Native American Oklahoman. Perhaps it only applies to a dynamic that travels from hot tub, strip club, and bachelor party to email after email, text message after text message, phone call after phone call. Our knowing is a consequence of being 1647.88 miles away from each other—23 hours and 51 minutes if we wanted to make the drive—but feeling as if we are with each other at every step.

I understand the “you just know” moment now, not as a monolithic, universally-applicable signal that the rest of your life has potentially arrived. It is not a secret withheld from you by your friends, who you theorize use “you just know” as code for “I’m gonna fuck with you” or “I don’t really care to describe it.” The truth of “you just know” predicates itself upon its very first syllable: you. I can tell you the story of how Parker and I came to be, but it’s something that will only ever apply to Parker and me. The soaring, anything-is-possible feeling floating between us is something that will only ever exist with us. Romantic comedies, love songs, romance novels: they only provide models for what the effect of love is, but the causes will always be different. To insist that you will feel the same when you find yours is to pretend that we are the same, that we need the same way, that love will provide us with the same gifts. You will know. Only you will know.

And so, I very purposefully leave out the weeks and events that transpired between Parker and me, from that very first fifteen-word email I received at home, to where we are now, seeing no end in sight, planning to see each other very, very soon. Because with love, I’ve discovered, the process of falling may be fun: it can be interesting and illuminating, and it is—as it was with Parker and me—a roller coaster of does-he-or-doesn’t-he. But unlike a roller coaster, falling is not the best part. It’s nowhere near as spectacular as being in love itself. It’s different from flirting; it’s different from dating; it’s a completely other world, and in that way, perhaps it is a secret. But it’s a secret that only Parker and I know, a place—as Keane might suggest—that only we go. The absurdity of love is not that it’s a possession that we must take turns finding; we cannot, unlike many other “goals” in the world, work to make it happen for ourselves (as much as we workaholics detest depending upon fate). The true craziness of love is that we all must wait until it becomes our own, at the wandering intersection of time, context, and another. Someday, when your road matches those roads, you will be well on your way. You will know what I mean just as surely as I know for myself now.

What now, then? What now that I know? Well, past knowing: I don’t really know. I’ve never known before. And so this dating column heads to where it has never gone before: beyond the happiness of knowing, to begin demystifying—or, if I’m lucky, reinforcing—the truths of happily ever after. After all, things with Parker have only just begun. And despite knowing, I am sure there is much more to learn.

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