I sat still, looking at my thumbs as I waited for him to say something. Anything. As the warmth of the sun touched my skin, I could feel the anxious rush of emotions rise in my core as if to burst through my skin.
He always took his time. He was careful with his words. That was part of his charm—he was an intellectual thinker, thought more with his head, rather than his heart. He hadn’t always been that way, but bruises tend to make us more sheltered.
He sat opposite of me, fists closed and carefully thinking. I often wondered what it all meant, why he did it, how could he just sit there and—then broke his silence. And said it.
He said it. He finally mustered up the courage in pure solemnity and said three delicate words that sang to my strings. I wanted to say it back immediately, but I knew he would change his mind. In that moment of waiting for me to reply, he sensed my hesitation and grew nervous at my quiet demeanor. He added another few words as if to brush it all off, and I knew from that moment that no matter what he felt deep down, no matter how many moments we spent that devised its own fate, he would always live in fear of the moment because it was too much of a risk.
We weren’t feasible and I softly replied, “I know.”
* * * * *
Time may have passed since that afternoon we shared, but I sometimes wonder what would it have been had I repeated those same sugary words to him at that exact moment. Would a sense of normalcy immediately brush over us? Would we be able to live in that one moment and just finally be content no matter the circumstances? Would we be able to finally sleep at night with peace and just be happy?
Never, because there was never anything normal about us. We were messed up and tangled in each other, hoping for the world to open up in some cosmic way so we could just be “normal” and things could be okay for each of us. We were two peas in a pod, but from opposite sides of the track.
While I have since said those three words and shown it to him through my continuous affection over the years, I know nothing will ever come from it. But I don’t regret what my heart feels. Such affection costs us so much, because it gives us so much. While some may think otherwise, I became a better person for it. Unafraid to be so open and caring in my choices, in some ways as he assumed, towering over others to which he relished in too, I became a better rounded person with my eyes on a career he could only dream of.
But my successes came because of him. Being in this great enchantment not only meant opening up a part of myself that I often feared growing up, but it meant admiring every motivation he had and being equally hungry like him for my own goals no matter the limit. It meant sharing all my thoughts with him as he shared his with me, and when not with each other, seeing him in every positive and thinking of him through every success.
When reflecting on that day, I know that he felt what I did and he valued it. He kept it sacred and would protect it at all costs over the years, but even though he catapulted himself into a job of integrity and nobility, fear still plagued him. It still plagues him. Fear has a horrible way of playing tricks on us, frightening us to not make changes and move on. But by opening up to him and sharing my affection, I have never feared anything because I knew he meant well.
This past week on The Flash, it was interesting to hear Barry talk about fear, sharing, “Things aren’t always what they seem. Our fears can play tricks on us, making us afraid to change course. Afraid to move on. But usually hidden behind our fears are second chances, waiting to be seized. Second chances at life. At glory. At family. At love. And these opportunities don’t come around every day. So when they do we have to be brave, take a chance and grab them while we can.”
The thing is, I had always felt braver around him as he awakened a confidence and courage in me, as ironic as it seems considering his character depleted over the years. No matter what people may think, I’m better because of him. Without judgment or criticism, I know why he made the choices he did and trust him. And while fear today drives him otherwise, I know what he’s going through in order to protect his future from repeating a past (and statistic) he only hopes to dispel.
Sigmund Freud put it best when he said human beings were funny because they long to be with the person they love, but refuse to admit it openly and that’s due to fear. He goes on to say, “Some are afraid to show even the slightest sign of affection because of fear. Fear that their feelings may not be recognized, or even worst, returned. But one thing about human beings puzzles me the most is their conscious effort to be connected with the object of their affection even if it kills them slowly within.”
Much to his surprise and boyish amusement, we were always alike until pulled from the shadows. That is when fear and the prospect of losing white picket fences devoured him. Withdrawing into a life of comfort that he now confuses as happiness, today, all I can hope for is that God helps him finds the same courage I found through loving him.
Love is a funny thing. As F. Scott Fitzgerald said, “There are all kinds of love in this world, but never the same love twice.” Simply put, relationships come in many different forms, but you will never have the same love with one partner as you have with the next.
Who’s to allay love as anything but?
I believe that every single event in life happens in an opportunity to choose love over fear.