I never dated and I never had a relationship. I valued people and treated my friends as my real treasures, as they are, but I thought love, at least in the romantic sense, wasn't meant for me. I tried, maybe too hard, and got to a point where I thought "well, it is what it is; I won't live to have a boyfriend or a girlfriend". I got used to sleeping alone, I got comfy with waking up alone in a big bed. Most of the time, I went to the movies, to the theatre, to museums, by myself, enjoying art and life, and also having fun with the people I love and who love me. Along came the pandemic, and it seemed like I finally finished setting my priorities straight: it's all about the moments, the people who always have beautiful and supportive words, and the right smile. Friends are important, my Art is important, and living with and around Art is what matters. Not success, not fame, but people, moments, and places. When I forgot it, it happened, at the same time, like a reward for my patience and my meditation: I felt utterly in love (or so I thought) with a girl, a lot younger than me. I felt seen romantically, and sexually, and for the first time, I said "good morning" or "good night" to the same person, every day. My mind raced with imagination, roaming with stories of eternal love, two women artists living abroad, the whole idealization. Soon, it became understood that I was a vehicle to her ego, something to make her feel adored. It was pure abuse, and I fell through my deepest emotional hole. It took some time but I put an end to it. By this time, I genuinely thought it was over, I would never find love again. If that was love, I'd rather be alone. It didn't take long for me to realize I never knew what real love is in the first place, just what it shouldn't be. He showed me what kindness could be, and what altruistic care meant. He wanted to be with me and, for a moment and until this day, he is the first person I got romantically involved with who said "I love you" or "You're beautiful". He worries; he helps; he communicates; he respects, and he supports me every step of the way. So, this is what "being seen" actually looks like. We've been living together for some months now, and everything seems natural, organic, and simple. Who would have thought that a pandemic in my thirties would be what it took to know what "the closest to happiness" meant? The picture I posted is one I took during our last stroll, last weekend. One of many to come.