As a young girl, I often got lost in dream states.
Rarely was I dreaming of my wedding or finding the Love of My Life. I was dreaming of dreaming. I was in my happy world where I could create, imagine, and experiment with spirit.
Around 12, I got a beautiful corduroy coat for Christmas. I unwrapped the box and layers of tissue paper to reveal a folded corduroy coat. One of the first things I did with that coat was wear it into the woods, showing it off to the evergreen trees in my childhood home's backyard.
I was alone; there were berries on the trees, and I pretended to eat them-- the forest nourishing me. I walked around as a little girl in love with life, happy to be outside.
I was enthralled by it all.
I'd walk to the river's edge and watch the water flow by, curling in and out, and dream about where the water was going and what it would see on its journey.
By my twenties, I realized I was good at being a human - being.
What I wasn't so good at was being a human - doing.
There's still a voice in the back of my mind, as it has been many voices in the past, telling me, "Emilee, listen! Are you listening to me?" "Emilee, let's go." "Emilee, what are you doing??" "Emilee, go faster!"
Most of these statements came from people in my life who were in leadership positions but didn't know me, such as teachers or coaches. I don't blame them, telling an eight-year-old lost in a daydream who hasn't put her shoes on yet to go outside when the rest of the classroom is nearly gone.
That happened in elementary school when I stopped by a bookshelf admiring the first copy of Harry Potter I'd ever seen.
The rest of my class was outside, running around. It was spring. But I sat there admiring Harry Potter, holding the thick book in my hands and awfully jealous of Courtney, who had already read it. I thought I shouldn't try. It's likely above my reading level. But Courtney read them!! I wanted to sit in front of that bookshelf and read it right then. Courtney also had nice erasers; mine were always chewed up, but that's a story for another time.
My narrative of Love looked a lot like reflections of spirit within me and the world around me. I was astonished by an acorn. That little bulb grows into a big oak tree?
I was astonished by watercolors dripping from one shade into another, mixing and making something new.
I was astonished also to find that when I started dating, love wasn't fitting into the same category that I knew love to be.
Love was so magical for most of my youth, and now, what is all of this confusion, toxicity, miscommunication, and unmet needs?
I experienced a decade of frustration and a lot of tears. In hindsight, I'd realize that it was mostly a blur of depression. Sounds super depressing. I know. It was. I wrote a book about it.
When I moved to Panama City Beach, Florida, I ended another relationship that was unhealthy. This time, however, I didn't give up on myself. I didn't shame myself and ask myself why I couldn't make these relationships work.
I sat with it.
I sat with me.
I actually dated myself, y'all; it was a damn good time.
I went to the fresh market every Sunday and purchased myself daisies, croissants, eggs, and muenster cheese. I sipped coffee and dated Emilee with my flowers and freshly baked breakfast croissant.
I made a promise to myself that if love ever came to me in human form, I would treat it differently. I would protect it and keep it sacred. Just like my childhood dream states in the evergreen forest, wandering around in starry-eyed love. It must exist.
The next experience I had would become the most precious, sacred relationship of them all. It was patient, it was kind, it was true. It started as a relationship with me-- I went diving. I became open-water PADI scuba certified.
My divemaster, Kelly, kept me safe while I danced underwater-- weightless. While her other students were doing calculations, practicing rescue missions, and searching for particular marine life, I was once again lost in my happy dream state.
I'd found my peace here under the sea.
And over that next year, I'd find true Love.
My partner, Kelly, and I have been together for one year, and we have kept it sacred between us, including only a few people. We wanted to do this relationship differently.
One year in, Kelly and I were hiking a mountain in NE Georgia that means a lot to her-- and at the top, to my complete (mostly complete) surprise, she asked me to spend the rest of our lives together.
At the top of a mountain, just the two of us. It was raining, and I couldn't have said an easier, happier "yes."