There is more that comes between us sitting on that bus stop bench and this conversation, standing in front of the last dying but still wildly fragrant blooms of a honeysuckle bush, but it is not yet meant for public consumption. It involved discussion of our future, my expectations and preferences, and Michael’s willingness and ability to carefully consider his choices. It was a reassuring and hopeful conversation but one laden with inherent disappointment and heart break. Joy can not be taken from words spoken when happiness is put at risk.
â€œWhat are you going to do tonight?â€ Michael asked with genuine interest. We had walked around the block and stood across the street from my car, hidden in the half dark of a tree sheltering the sidewalk. He was due to meet Susan at his house in a few minutes and I was due to spend the evening alone.
â€œIâ€™m going to go home, eat dinner, feel my feelings, and go to sleep,â€ I assured him. I was tired and resigned but inside a glimmer of hope flickered from our conversation. It needed nurturing, patience, and a sublime amount of calm to flourish, but I could feel myself growing to the task.
â€œFor my sake, resist the urge to commit them to paperâ€¦â€ he half-joked. He took my body in his arms and I rested against his strength. The purely physical comfort I get from Michael cannot be discounted in moments of stress and trouble such as this.
â€œWhat? Oh, Iâ€™m too tired and upset. I donâ€™t think I can write tonight.â€ I rested my head against his chest and answered slowly. The thought of sitting in front of my computer and having to elaborate and enumerate my hurts was oppressive. I just wanted to be.
â€œMake sure you take care of yourself. I want to know if you are crying or upset. Donâ€™t disappear,â€ he insisted.
â€œYouâ€™re the one who does that,â€ I remarked sharply, pulling back to look at him. Anger and disappointment had loosened my tongue, as had his insistence that I speak instead of mutely shaking my head.
â€œWhat? Disappear? Oh, you mean being slow to respond to your messages. I get a lot of work calls so I set my phone aside whenever Iâ€™m with someone. I do the same thing when Iâ€™m with you,â€ he said, pulling me close again.
â€œThat makes sense,â€ I said, nodding.
And it did. In that instant, all of the resentment and frustration I felt for every time he took an hour to respond to a text just because Susan was in town slipped away. It wasnâ€™t a reflection on me or his affection for me, just a habit born of politeness. It wouldnâ€™t matter if he was with Susan or Carrie or any one of a half dozen girls I could name, he would afford all of them the same consideration he gives me when I am with him.
I am slowly learning that is not the characteristics of his actions or the speed with which he responds to my electronic missives that define Michaelâ€™s love for me, it is the feelings in his heart and the words that find their way to my ears. I am becoming ever more convinced that what he tells me truly reflects his passion for me. He doesnâ€™t say things because they are pretty or flattering or flowery, he says them because he means them and he needs me to hear them with my heart.
So I went home, talked to my sister and my cats, remembered my deep and abiding love, banished worse-case scenarios, and went to bed. Michael loves me, I love him, we have a future together, and with that I can be content.