I was divorced for almost a year when he interviewed me for a job.
When I accepted the offer, I was the only American with a team of 6 wonderful Lithuanians. Three of us were based in Chicago and the rest in Lithuania.
Kestas and I rarely talked, but our conversations always got deep. We talked about divorce, depression, religion, and politics. It was a comforting friendship during covid with someone I'd probably never meet.
We often joked about how much we loved being single and living alone.
Everything was easy with him - communicating, handling conflict, and navigating difficult clients.
Months later, he asked to read my writing. I was hesitant. He read all of it in two days.
We soon admitted we had feelings for each other.
We had to meet.
The timing was horrible. I was still healing and recovering from trauma and my divorce. I had just started intense therapy and didn't feel ready to be in a relationship again.
But I was falling hard for him, and I had several vivid dreams about this person I never met.
We researched which country would open up first in the midst of covid. We put our money on Croatia and started planning.
He drove there. I flew.
He filled his car with Lithuanian desserts for me to try and blankets for the beach.
I brought taco seasoning and homemade bagels.
We had so much fun, we drove back to Lithuania together and I met his family.
It was a trip engraved in my heart.
Since then there have been several more trips.
I didn't know there was a Kestas in the world.
He's the kindest person with even kinder eyes. He listens to me talk for hours and tells me my voice is beautiful. He makes breakfast for his friends and drinks coffee with his parents on Sundays. He curates playlists and makes me cappuccinos in the morning. We play board games until 2am or go to an arcade to kill zombies. He likes my music. He holds me when I cry or panic from a ptsd episode or when I'm getting another biopsy. We go on long walks together and talk about psychology or aliens. He's incredibly hard-working and the most thorough person I know. He's brilliant and always learning something new. We cook together. Slow dance. Work all the time. We scour shops for gifts for our friends. He compliments my writing or my newest painting. He tells people he's dating an artist. He encourages me in risks I take and takes me out to celebrate with tacos. He agrees to go with my crazy ideas (really crazy ideas). He loves my friends and families just as much as I love his.
I'm an individual with him. I'm not co-dependent - I don't need him. I just enjoy getting to be a part of his life for as long as I get.
Sometimes the distance is difficult. We've taken breaks because we don't know how we'd raise a child successfully between two countries.
But we keep choosing to be with each other even in the face of fear.
I thought the timing was horrible. I thought I needed more time to heal before I could deserve him.
But he was what I needed.
He helped me heal faster in ways I couldn't even imagine.
He gave me a safe place to remember who I am and determine who I want to be.
He's shown me grace, acceptance, and forgiveness.
But most importantly, he's shown me unconditional love.
And that I am enough.