Last night, I told you I’m in love with you.
I sat my heart wide open, lit up from having spent the evening with you, drinking coffee and laughing and talking about what it means to live our passions. You told me about your dreams for the world—your eyes alive and pensive at the same time—and I glimpsed a(nother) sliver of the enormous goodness inside you. It felt like you had stepped inside the wide-open cavity of my chest and after being hollow for such a long, long time, my heart finally felt full.
When I went home, I breathed, I listened to Joni Mitchell, I sat with words—the only thing I trust and feel safest with—and wrote you a message to tell you just how much you light me up.
And then I slept a fretful, restless night, thinking a million things: how your brow might furrow when you read my words, how I might have frightened you—because a girl with a heart as full-up and impetuous as mine can be overwhelming, I know. I thought of how, perhaps, you might find it all too much, too heavy and then I would lose you and your friendship altogether. In between, I also thought hopeful thoughts; that perhaps, oh just maybe, your heart might be filling up too.
When you reply the next day, I see a message pop up with your name on it. I don’t look at it for awhile because it’s too unnerving. But my heart is curious and it’s beating so loud, I can feel the thump in my ears.
I think of the careful way you would have written a message. I think of how many hours it is between me sending you my words, and you returning yours, and calculate what that might mean. I think of the infinite possible things you might have said and how each would will make me feel. (But we can never really anticipate how our hearts will swell or burst or crack until the very moment we’re feeling all those big, small, kind, cruel, happy, painful things).
I finally read all that you have said to me, in only the beautiful, measured way you could. Your message is long and careful, thoughtful and kind. You tell me that I really like spending time with me too, but as a friend. “I hope you understand”, you say, and I can almost see your face crinkle, as it always does when you’re interested, questioning, concerned.
I’m surprised that I don’t feel my heart splinter. Instead, I think only of how gracious your words are and how they’re almost making me smile.
I think that this is the loveliest ‘no’ I have received.
I think about your deliberate choice of words, your honesty, your gentleness—that even in this awkward moment, you show all the goodness of you that I have fallen in love with in the first place.
I think, for second, how I’d perhaps have preferred it if you were an ass about it, if you were curt and cutting; because the care-full warmth of your words and the respect in your voice have only made it harder not to love you all over again.
I also think of the relief now, that all the nervousness of wanting to tell you for weeks and months has been freed. I needed to let the words of my heart and I thought you deserved to know some of my truth. I feel almost brave to have done this, no matter how big or small, vast or silly it might seem now or later.
So I am sad for awhile; I am a little sad still as I write this, that the jigsaw shape of my full-up heart doesn’t quite fit with the shape of yours. I think of all the tiny things I would have loved to do with you—hold your hand, wake up to see the sun against your face, kiss you on New Year’s Day.
But I think too, of how wonderful it will be for you when you find someone who will light you up as you have lit me. And I am happy, just to imagine your own heart wide open and full.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Catherine Monkman