“I love you.”
The last time I had said I love you to someone romantically was years and years ago.
It felt strange as I murmured the words. It was a statement wholly unexpected on both of our parts. The surprise was unflattering.
He wasn’t necessary to my happiness.
But I liked having him around.
It’d been a short, whirlwind course of dating, marked by too many hours gazing into each other’s eyes and conversations about our dreams and our plans, our feelings about Romeo and Juliet and tireswings.
I wasn’t madly in love. But his existence made the world better, made my days a little sweeter, and for that I loved him. It was a simple fact, not a confession. It was never a secret, even from me, because the moment I said it was when I knew it.
I loved him for being unabashedly himself. For his passions, for his joy. For his willingness to be ridiculous for the sake of fun. For his ambition, for his compassion. For being a person who makes your life and the lives of those he meets a little more beautiful.
I was still embarrassed when the words slipped from my lips though. It’s nice to get to know something on your own for a while, to have time to turn something over in your mind. To let it be yours for a little while.
I blinked, things changed. He was headed out of town for the summer, I’m moving to a different continent in August. I was ok with goodbye hurting if it meant we had a wonderful time. I found myself wanting to suck every last drop, to get every last bit of fun and joy from our time together. He wasn’t, needing more closure and space than I, a sort of winding down period, which I respect, but certainly did not want or enjoy.
We spent our last day together with a game of him keeping me at arm’s length. Thanks to the wonders of disc golf, I mean that quite literally. Those discs are sharp.
These days, texts go unreturned or with a short reply. I had successfully moved into the being friends territory, but friendship doesn’t look like this. Friendship is genuine joy and caring. There are people I only talk to periodically, but there is such a warmth and a generosity of spirit when we do talk that it is clear that the friendship has not languished in the silence. Instead, the silence has simply been a chance for us to have adventures and thoughts and feelings of which we can speak together.
Here, I feel as something has crumbled. The distance resounds as if perhaps we’re afraid of each other, because real interaction might run the risk of resparking what had been, reminding us of the shining possibility that for a while there, we both so clearly saw. Or we might run the risk of hurting each other. Or a million other things that could go wrong.
And you know what?
It feels oddly satisfying to look at a pile of crumbles. To know that while it’s not what you wanted at the time, it doesn’t really hurt you, or your plans, or your dreams. To kick the dirt and watch it fly. To know that for all your inadvertent slips of the tongue, you never said anything you didn’t mean.
I loved you, I loved you, I loved you.
And how sweet those words will always be.