subject line: permission. June 20, 2015 by Hannah Brencher normal, illinois We walked hand in hand on the trail by the pond. It was dark and muggy, but I didn’t notice. You, my first serious college crush, back in my life after an awkward separation and 4+ years of being out of touch. A LOOOOOT of life happened to both of us since then. Some magical, some pretty rocky. We had a lot to catch up on when we reconnected. “Relationships don’t start and stop,” you always tell me, “they just pause and unpause.” And there we were, not skipping a beat, but this time all those things I’d quietly, privately wished for in college were starting to happen.You are a student of life, and have become a student of me. You are always taking care of me. You are always so aware of not scaring me, not forcing me to move too fast, not making things awkward or hard for me. You’re always watching what I like and what I say and do. You saw how I became utterly speechless, entranced, just sitting on my favorite rock overlooking the pond at sunset. So when you walked me by the dark field full of fireflies, you stopped. You sat. Because you knew I’d love it. And oh, I did. My heart was somersaulting at the beautiful glittering of hundreds of delicate fireflies in the field below us.And then there we were on the trail by the pond. “That spot with the fireflies,” you murmured quietly in the night, breaking the silence. “That spot would have been perfect.”I knew what you were talking about. It would have been a perfect first kiss. The air had been electric. “I wouldn’t have stopped you...” I said quietly.”But there’s a difference between ‘I wouldn’t have stopped you’ and permission.” And you were right. And I knew you’d never make a move because you never want to hurt me.We walked in silence on the trail for awhile after that. Well, outwardly we were silent. Inwardly my mind was churning and rolling a million miles an hour, wrestling with my heart. How badly I wanted to give you permission! But how scary the thought was! You couldn’t see me clenching my other hand into a fist in the dark as I felt my heart bob up into my throat every time I wanted to blurt out and give you permission. We’re technically not dating yet. But we’re on the fast track. Would this be okay? Would I be rushing it? Would this be playing with fire? Or would it be totally fine, wonderful even?Finally, we turned to head back for home. In a moment of crazy insane courage, I broke the silence as a string of words bubbled up from my throat: “You have permission. Use it as you see fit.”I felt dizzy. You stopped for a moment, looked at me, and took my hand and kept walking. I could tell your mind was the one churning now. We stopped where the sidewalk split to keep going home or to turn back, and even in the dark I could see on your face that you were struck with the weight of what I had just given you. You were trying to decide if now was the time to use it, or if it was better to wait, for my sake.I realized that I felt safe entrusting you with that permission, because I know that you will treat it with almost more respect than I will treat it myself. Because I feel safe with you. And to me, that means the world.