“I almost believe you again.” I said.
“No really, I love you.”
“I love you too.”
The last three months have been a lesson for me in moving forward with doubt. Doubt born out of fear and weakness.
You can’t tell me that a man doing his first climb up Mount Everest doesn’t have some doubt that he’ll make it back alive. Or a child learning how to pedal on his own that he won’t fall and get hurt. Almost every thing we do is riddled with a doubt we drowned in the water of determination.
Determination is something I know about. I was the one beating the chest of the marriage that had been dead long ago until people had to pull me off the corpse.
I was the one choosing to forgive and see a man as precious china only to find out he was a cheap fake made of ceramic and full of lead that bled toxins into my life.
Some would call me a fool for not putting preservation of self over attaining something I couldn’t even touch…an ideal. I even thought myself a fool. Sometimes I still do if it were not for what keeps me moving forward.
It’s not a smile that convinces me. It’s not a tear at the thought of losing me. I’ve seen that before.
It’s a man sitting bored out of his mind at a concert full of pieces of music he’s never heard and voices so muddled with the echo of a high school gym that he can’t even make out words. But sitting there still because my daughter asked him to be there and glowing after he got a big smile and wave from her.
A man who shows up at my door at 5:00 AM with Starbucks in hand because he knows I have to make a 7:30 AM meeting 50 miles away from my house and I rarely am awake before 8.
A man who despite what he knows is better for his business, comes over for a home cooked meal and to watch TV with me and fall asleep in my arms so that I can have one normal night.
So I keep moving forward.
And in the night when I’m lonely and scared, when the doubt rises to the surface, bubbling and bursting into the air as I take a breath, I cough it out of my lungs like smoke. I cover my mouth and breathe shallow until the veil is lifted once again allowing me to see more clearly in the light of day.
“I love you.” He said.
I remind myself. Not everyone says that and lies on purpose.
Not everyone is stupid enough to sabotage something that motivates utter strangers to buy us a drink because our love is so evident they want to be a part celebrating it. And when the man walked over with drinks in hand, Harry and I both looked at each other in quiet disbelief that someone else saw what we feel. Or when the waitress, before she allows us to order, stops us to say that when Harry walked into the room our kiss when we greeted each other was so sweet that it made her wish someone would love her like we loved each other.
Who throws something like that away? Even if it’s scary. They would have to be a fool. And Harry is lots of things but he is not a fool anymore than I am.
“I love you.” He said.
Even as other men clearly flirt with me, ask me out on Facebook, and follow me with their eyes. Instead of a possessive defense, he proudly holds my hand, gives me a kiss and loves being a source of envy. He knows I am his and I wouldn’t trade all the nights I spend alone with the companionship of anyone else.
I’ve heard I love you before. But I haven’t heard, No really. That’s what you say when you mean it and you don’t want there to be any misunderstanding because you’re serious.
Maybe this time, this guy really does. It sure does seem like it. I sure am hopeful because I love him too. No really…I do.