Some people plan romantic moments to say “I love you.” Some people blurt out the words in a moment of spontaneous passion. Then there is yours truly, who shows up unannounced with a half-empty box of wine, no sort of plan in her mind, driven mostly by fear that waiting one more day would destroy my sanity. [If you want the full intro, look here.] Would he even be home? Maybe he’d open the door and I would say, “Hi! Guess what? I brought you some shitty wine! Also, I love you!”
I rang the doorbell. Harry’s friend, Zach, answered. So much for the Tell-Him-At-the-Door plan.
“Hey,” said Zach, completely unfazed to see me, “What’s up?”
“Uh, hi Zach, is Harry home?” I asked, feeling like I had been transported out of the city, out of the 21st century, to a bygone era when this sort of thing was normal. The concept of “just drop by anytime” is completely bizarre in present-day New York City.
“Yeah,” Zach replied opening the door wider, “He’s right here. Harry, look who’s showed up.”
My boyfriend arose slowly, shirtless, from the coach. He looked slightly bewildered, like he was trying to recall a forgotten communication.
“I was in the neighborhood,” I explained, “My phone is dead so I figured I’d take my chances and stop by, see if you were home.” The TV was on, paused on a frame of the HBO show Rome. “If I’m interrupting a boys’ night, I can totally leave. Really. I know it’s weird I’m here completely out of the blue.”
“No, no, no,” said Zach. “Stay.”
“It is awesome you’re here.” Harry said, putting on a shirt and giving me a kiss, “A lovely surprise.”
The boys welcomed me with open arms, offering me beer, asking if I could stay for dinner. Still, something felt off. The episode of Rome turned back on, I sat struggling to differentiate characters who all have the same haircut. It was a nice distraction from the Tell-Him-You-Love-Him task set before me.
Suddenly, Harry paused the episode again, “I have to tell you something.” My heart skipped a beat. These words are often a precursor to the three big ones I’d been obsessing over. Were Harry and I so compatible, so on the same page, that the same thoughts were plaguing both our brains? Was he about to confess his love for me while sitting in his living room, his friend on the futon opposite us?
Harry spoke, “So, well, Zach and I dropped dica right before you got here. Yeah. It hasn’t hit yet, but it’s about to.”
This was not, in a million years, what I was expecting to hear.
Perhaps you don’t know what dica is.
Perhaps because I made it up. Let’s just say dica is exactly like the psychedelic drug known as “acid” but with one very important exception: dica is perfectly legal in the USA. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Therefore, it is not at all questionable that I am sharing my boyfriend’s infrequent recreational dica use. He and Zack were celebrating some pretty extensive achievements between them. They deserved a trip, really a vacation. But when time and money are scarce, well, you take any trip you can. Moral of the story: Harry doesn’t have a problem, I don’t have a problem, and I hope you don’t have a problem either.
I stared at him in disbelief and then burst out laughing. This is my life! Of course the moment I resolve to declare my feelings, I find the object of my affection in a completely altered state of mind! Of course! Just goes to show, you can’t plan this sort of thing! Or you probably can, it’s just me who completely fails; and true to form, fails in an utterly comedic manner.
One thing was for sure, I absolutely couldn’t say anything that night. It wasn’t exactly hard to restrain myself. It turned out to be a fun night, watching my boy and his best friend get utterly ridiculous. More entertaining than any show on HBO. I fed off their buzz, aided by copious glasses from the box of wine. In the wee hours of the morn, the effects of the dica mostly worn off, Harry and I collapsed into bed and slept oh-so-soundly.
When I awoke, morning light was peaking through the curtains. Having no concept of time, I peered at the clock by the bed, 9:30 AM. Much later than I was hoping, I’d have to leave soon. If I didn’t say “I love you” now, I’d have to wait several days until I saw Harry again. My heart started thumping loudly in my chest, making my decision before my brain. I was going to say it, now.
I could feel Harry awake next to me and wondered if my heart was beating so loudly he could hear it.
“Are you still tripping?” I asked.
“No,” he said, “That ended hours ago.”
Silence filled the next moments as my brain and heart hammered away. Just say it. Just open your mouth and say it. SAY IT!
I took a breath. “I love you.” I said, “I do. Even when you’re tripping on dica.” Yep, that is how I told my boyfriend I loved him. No lead in, no preface, just completely unceremonious and first thing in the morning.
“Oh yeah?” he chuckled, “That’s awesome.” He put his arms around me and squeezed me tight, “That’s fantastic,” he said and then fell silent.
A deafening silence, it hung in the air like humidity does on New York summer days. Instead of freaked out, I felt strangely zen. I had said what I needed to say, the matter was now out of my hands. The silence extended. Lying in his arms but feeling positively unattached, my brain calmly assessed the situation: So this is what unrequited love feels like. Huh. Guess I totally misjudged this one. Hm. Well, now starts the ticking time bomb. How long do I give him to say it back? If he doesn’t say it back in-
Acutely aware of his slightest movement, I felt Harry inhale before he exhaled, “I love you, too.”
Phew. I grinned, relief now bathing everything in new light, “Well you certainly paused long enough for me to doubt it!”
“I’m sorry,” he said earnestly, “You did catch me totally off guard though.”
“I know, but I had to say it! Actually, I’m kinda glad you made me lie in silent agony for five minutes,” he hugged me tighter, “I never want to take this for granted.”
There you have it. That’s my story of saying I love you first. I’d love to hear other people’s “I love you” stories! Please share them in the comments section!