“You love him. I know you’re in love with him.
You have been since you were just a girl…”
…my 77-year-old grandma says, sitting across from me on her couch. She’s never said this to me before, even though she’s been aware of him from the start. Of course I’ve talked about him here and there to my parents, sister, grandparents… When I was a teenager he was all that was on my lips. Since we reconnected, I have told them that we are friends and see each other - but I don’t go into many details. My mom said once a few years ago “I know you love him”, so I know it’s a poorly-kept secret, but it always catches me off guard when someone calls me out. It’s hard not to speak of him at all, though. I hold my tongue constantly, wanting to reference something he said in casual conversation but not wanting to get “that look” from everyone in the room, or hear the casual “Oh? You’re still seeing him? How is he? Still working at the -----?”
I wish I could scream how I feel about him and gush over every stupid thing he says to anyone who will hear me. This journal should attest to that (hello, long-windedness)… But I just don’t because I hate questions. I don’t want people to ask what we are, or ask if he’s seeing someone else, or god forbid pity me because everyone knows I’ve never had eyes for anyone else and it’s sad for a 34 year old woman to spend life alone. (you know you’re thinking it too).
I broke my vow of casual silence regarding him and decided to talk to my grandma about the conversation we had last night, in which he brought up not talking anymore. I had plans to visit my grandparents before we ever had the conversation - so by staying up late to talk things out with him, I only got about 3 hours of sleep… So I wasn’t as rational as I normally would be. I guess that’s why I decided to tell her a condensed version of everything… bring her up to speed on the past few years.
Before I had a chance to really say anything, only after I said “I wanted to talk to you about R..” was when she said she knew I loved him. Had been in love with him since I was a young girl… Before I even expressed it myself she knew. Of course. I guess at this point it’s obvious. a glowing neon sign on my forehead to everyone who knows me. Even when I say nothing at all.
During my previous conversation with him the night before, when he was questioning me about never being with anyone else - he asked me what my family think of him. I told him that my family don’t think bad of him. My family know about him, because I tell them certain things, drop his name in conversation sometimes when I just can’t hold my tongue and something reminds me of him. They knew I was head over heels for him when I still lived at home though. From age 16 to 21 I lived at home and was grounded more times than you can imagine for sneaking out at night to see him. Caught on the phone with him late on a school night. One time I was grounded from the internet and stole my parents credit card number to get a AOL free trial on a school laptop so that I could chat to him all night. Even when I was older, around 19yrs, he called the house landline when my family were out, and left a message. He was at boot camp, and I hadn’t heard from him in ages. His message played on speakerphone for everyone to hear. I didn’t disguise my emotion. I never let them delete that message as long as I lived there. Every time my parents went to check a new message they’d have to skip past his voice and they did it willingly. They knew how I felt. They can sense I feel similar now. (edit: when I told my mom later that I had been upset because he told me he might not want to talk anymore, her response was: “Oh, he has said that many times in the past, and it never lasts. I can’t tell you how many times you’ve told me the same thing.”)
I told him that my grandparents know I care for him and it was evident to me when a few years ago, after his dad had passed away, my grandma cut out his obituary from the newspaper, and brought it to me the next time she saw me. I did not ask her to do this or even tell her his name, she reads the obituaries daily and happened across that one and put the pieces together with the names. She was very hesitant to pull it out of her purse, saying she didn’t want to upset me and that I didn’t need to keep it, but that just in case… I did keep it, of course. I wouldn’t have ever seen it if not for her. And I had it in a little box of memories that I accidentally left at his house and he never gave back last year. I always wondered if he ever looked through it or not - and if he had, would he think I was a complete weirdo for having that newspaper clipping in there? I was glad to finally get to tell him this story, if only to clear up that there was context behind it and thoughtfulness. When I brought up his dad, and when I explained what my grandma did, it made him cry. I didn’t want to upset him I just wanted him to know that my family don’t hate him. They care for him because I care for him and they just want me to have what I want… what I wish for.
He interjects - what do you wish?
I stall, asking for clarification. about… what? in general? for us? our future?
He says all of it
And it feels like I can’t breathe. Can’t even grab ‘hold of my thoughts long enough to formulate an answer. Because this is the question I avoid. This is the one thing I never let myself think about. When I am laying in bed at night and my mind wanders to him, I never let myself go too far into my fantasies. BEYOND the sex - which is my go-to surface-level daydreaming… To what I truly wish for aside from that. To fantasies about what a life together would look like. Those are the daydreams I never allow myself to ponder on.
If I’m in the shower and I start to think about the times we’ve showered together, it’s typical to think about all the hot and steamy moments… all the different things we’ve tried. But when I start to think past that, to when we got out of the shower and wrapped towels around us, and he combed his hair in the mirror as I stood there watching him, and he turned around and started to comb my hair and the comb got stuck and we laughed.... I stop myself. That wanders too far into normal territory. Into a life I am not allowed to have. Into things I wish deep down could be more than just a memory for me. Such normal, everyday things that seem like a scandalous fantasy.
Things like watching TV and having him fall asleep on my chest, or to wake up beside him as he hit the snooze button a hundred times, to watch him put on a button up shirt for work and look so handsome I just wanted to pull him back into bed.... Things like listening to his favorite songs or hearing him read me passages and poetry from books he’s reading. To watch him play video games while I smoke and thumb through the books on his nightstand and just feel content in his presence. To eating chips in bed late at night or driving around in the car holding hands and singing to music… All of these everyday things that we have experienced together throughout the past few years are preserved in the very back chambers of my heart, things I wish could become “normal” for us. These are things I “wish” for.
But that’s not all, of course. Those are just the things I have had, that I remember the feeling of and want to feel again. There are so many more things we have never experienced, things I can only dream of and don’t even dare to let myself hope for. Things I don’t admit to myself and certainly never say out loud because it makes it too real… it makes me feel foolish. It highlights all I don’t have and probably never will, it makes me kind of sad. As good as imagining them can be, it just leaves me feeling cold.
I am under no illusions that a life together wouldn’t be difficult at times. I know it would be. I am aware of his issues, of my issues as well, I know he isn’t always nice and doesn’t always handle things in the best way in the moment. I know he does things he regrets. I know he can act impulsively and I know he says things sometimes to get a reaction. I know that the “him” I usually get is the best version of himself. I get that. He sees the best version of me too, mostly. without the day to day struggles or little fights or annoyances or even big disagreements that normal people have when they spend a lot of time together. Just because we DON’T really fight and we always have these magical moments doesn’t mean all of them would be. Not by a long shot. So would it be hard? Yeah, it would. But I want that. I accept that, because I want HIM. All of him. The good and the bad. I know the bad can be really bad. I’ve loved him forever, he has to know that I still see the bad and the struggles even when I focus on the good. I do NOT just put him on a pedestal and ignore the ugly stuff. I choose to focus on all the good when we are together to reassure him I love him and make him feel good because time is short. If we had more time we could work through things we otherwise don’t have time to now.
I’ve been so frustrated at times I have gone to freakin’ AlAnon to try and just secretly blow off some steam or get some answers or see some signs, I have been DESPERATE and angry and worried and at my wit’s end and cried an ocean of tears for him and always still loved him at the end of the day. He asks why I don’t scream and yell at him and let him have it, well I choose to spend our limited time together as wisely and happy as possible, but perhaps if we spent more time together he might see that I am not always so agreeable....I don’t really yell, but I am not always passive. I am sure we would butt heads, we are both stubborn. But, I will never, ever not love him. I will never, ever leave him, I will never, ever try to hurt him on purpose, and I will always give him a chance. I know he thinks his bad qualities run people off but he has to know they haven’t run me off and they won’t. I’m in this until the wheels fall off. His problems don’t scare me. Our issues don’t scare me. What scares me is facing a life without him in it.
So I wish for the bad. I wish for the ugly. I wish for the raw moments and fights or tears or apologies and long-nights and bad coping mechanisms and health issues and daily stresses and parenting nightmares. I don’t just want one side of him. I want everything that makes him the person he is, even if he tries to convince me how shitty that person is. I want it all just so I can prove I meant it. Because I do. I have this far.
I wish he could see those other sides to me too. Not just the side of me that lives to satisfy his every whim, not just the side of me that always says yes, and comes the moment he calls… The nice side, the always pretty side. Of course, that is one side of me - but there’s a stronger side to me that sticks to my guns, who can be slightly stubborn ;), that might debate with him on things… there’s a side to me who is a fountain of useless knowledge and there’s so many things I wish I could show him. There are so many things I wish I could learn about him, too. There are parts of me that are darker than he probably knows, and I wish he could see those too. I wish he could see how scared I have been this whole time with just the prospect of a relationship and getting that vulnerable together. Maybe it’s been holding me back, but like I said- I hate to admit it. This is the only time I ever have. I hope I’m doing it justice. It’s not easy.
But all that fear subsides when he sends me texts showing me the dinners he cooks, talks to me about the process, when he shows me things he likes, sends me photos of himself smoking on the porch, when he tells me about his day, when he talks about his friends or work or his son… When he lets me in on those bits of normalcy, when he makes me feel like a part of his life - that is when I can picture fitting into it. For a brief moment, there’s enough serotonin flowing to my brain that I let myself imagine a life. Our life. The life where he comes home from work to me. Where we can take turns making each other dinner. Where I can take care of him when he’s sick, where he can warm me up when I’m cold. A life where eating a snack together isn’t a sacred special memory but just a normal one. A life where we pay our bills and bitch about our jobs and plan trips or even just go to the movies or the mall or get together with his family, or mine. That kind of life.
The kind of life where certain things are normal, but that doesn’t mean the way the amazing things are now have to change. We could still be adventurous in our… sex life… I mean, it doesn’t have to die out. If anything we would have more chances to do some of the things we have only dared talk about. If only we had the freedom for that. I wish we did. I can’t even begin to explain the wishes I have when it comes to things like that. But, we could still give each other space to do things we want to do individually, like we do now. I am open-minded and not someone who pries or snoops or follows and guilts or shames.... I think we could work it out. it could be good. It could be better than it is now. I don’t just wish this, I know this.
I wished he would have talked to me during this trip and realized he wanted to have ME in his life, and called HER to say goodbye instead. Told her to pack her things and leave. Because he doesn’t want to live without me. THAT is a wish I have had more than a few times today.... I don’t give him this ultimatum I just wish it would be so. If I’m being honest.
I don’t tell him any of this.
When he asks me what I wish for, all of these words - these pages of words - swirl through my head, and I can’t fathom where to start as he’s looking right at me, waiting for a response… So I stutter. I start to say something. I stop, start over. I tell him I wish for him. I tell him I wish I could see him more, to be with him. I do not say what I meant to say. Isn’t that always the way…
So when I say that my family just wishes that I would get my wish, I guess that’s what I meant. when he asked me what I wish for, that is what I should have said.
I didn’t want to write this. To admit these things, to tell anyone these secret “wishes” - because I feel like it makes me look like a damn fool - because it would probably make people pity me to hear it. Because everyone would probably say these wishes will never come true, and how sad it is to live a life with so many simple, unfulfilled wishes. I feel like I have no right to wish those things, and I should disregard them completely, never think about them, and settle for reality. The small moments we have, if it’s all we can have. I have convinced myself that these wishes are only that, and no genie or fairy godmother is going to show up and grant them for me when he doesn’t. So while I wish them with my whole heart, I am not a fool to think I will ever get what I wish for.
But, some of him is better than none of him. Whatever I can have. Every 11:11 wish I’ve ever made has been for him, but I guess I never specified just how much of him I wished for… Maybe that was my first mistake.
I wish I wasn’t the way I am.
“I had all and then most of you,
Some and now none of you
Take me back to the night we met…
I don’t know what I’m supposed to do,
Haunted by the ghost of you
Oh, take me back to the night we met…“
–Lord Huron - The Night We Met
Last updated September 19, 2019