I have to tell someone. I feel like I will burst.
Traveler loves me. He LOVES me.
We had a date last night at the tail of our weekend. I picked him up and we went out to an Irish place. Good food and good conversation and back to his place we went. He finished up laundry as we talked and somehow the conversation turned to talking about love.
I asked him if he thought he might be reluctant to be emotional, to invest. He thought a moment and said “no, but maybe more prepared and more cautious”. Cautious I understood, but prepared? He explained that he is more prepared for that now and he’s thought more about those things. He kept hanging his shirts and my heart started to pound.
I’ve wanted to tell him I love him the last 4 times we were together. Yes. I’m not stupid. I know I love him. I knew this and finally admitted it to myself maybe last week or so. Oh God.
Traveler is very affectionate and thoughtful, even and measured, and very low drama. He invests slowly and moves cautiously. I want to be Traveler when I grow up. He’s wonderful, but I just felt that loving him was a mistake. He is a cool customer. If I had fucked up and told him I loved him I figured it would make shit weird. He’d probably pull away to manage it. I would lose this or change it or fuck it up, so I kept my mouth shut.
I told him in the living room as he folded his shirts that this kind of declaration was terrifying. What if they didn’t love you back? It’s like throwing a gauntlet. It’s pressure. He said it didn’t have to be pressure if it was okay with the person loving that the other person didn’t feel exactly the same. I kinda thought he knew that I loved him and was saying that he knew but he didn’t feel the same and that it was okay.
Later, as we lay upstairs I felt it again. It kept welling up. We were listening to music and sharing songs and I wanted to tell him that I loved him. I decided to tell him. Just this once I would be brave with my heart. I figured he would be a little freaked, but I thought it would be safe. I could tell him that it changes nothing and that it was already there. I’d be bold and just say it.
I put my hand on his mouth and my lips to his ear. I said “Don’t say anything…” And I froze. I wanted to tell him. I took a breath and wanted to say it, like pulling a band-aid.
Nothing came out.
I released my hand from his mouth and said I liked the song that came on. I held him. He was as still as stone and as stiff. I was making this weird. Oh God. I was fucking this up. I was being a weirdo. A minute passed and then two. He started to relax and I spoke softly in his ear, not whispering, but pushing my face against his, holding him really tight.. I told him
“Don’t say anything. Please don’t speak or say it back….I love you”
He held me and breathed me. A little later he pulled me away and looked at my face and I met his eyes. I couldn’t say anything, but I wanted to just meet his gaze and show him I wouldn’t be weird. I understood and was okay. He didn’t have to say anything. He looked at me for a while, saying nothing.
“I did what you asked me to and I didn’t say anything”, he said. He looked at me more, and said “I love you”. He didn’t move to kiss me or hide his face. He just looked at me. I’d heard him, but what? I asked him if I’d heard that right.
“You want to know if you heard me tell you I love you?”. I nodded and he grinned. “Yes, I told you I love you” he reassured. We kept just looking at each other. We held each other a long time, tight and close. My mind was skittering and dancing. Traveler loves me? Traveler LOVES me? I didn’t even consider that he might say it back.
I asked him how long he knew he’d loved me and he said “I became most aware of it a few weeks ago”. I asked why he didn’t tell me. He said that I had such a hard time with this mushy words stuff that he just didn’t want to freak me out or make me panic. I laughed and told him that I don’t panic if other people tell me vulnerable things.
We said it again a few times last night, and then he said it this morning. I’d opened his fridge and asked “can I steal this?” He didn’t turn around or look and said “yes”. I poured the OJ I’d wanted to pilfer into a glass and said “you didn’t even know what I was asking for”. He smiled and said.. “I’m not in the habit of denying food, especially to people I care about” I leaned against the counter by him and drank my juice. “I like to feed people I love”.
Right there, in the daylight, in the sunlight of his kitchen, Traveler loves me.