This weekend, Billy actually called me out on my reluctance to open up to him.
“About what?” I asked defensively, rolling over in bed so that I faced the window instead of him.
“About everything,” he huffed, playfully pulling me back to him. “About what you like, what you don’t like…We’ve been together a month and a half and I still don’t know so much.”
“I’ll tell you anything you want to know – You just have to ask. And you haven’t. I’m not just going to spew my history all over you or hit you with a litany of my likes and dislikes,” I told him. And although it was the truth, I felt badly about saying it; all that does is toss blame around. And, really, I don’t like saying what I like. I feel like telling you that I do like something is basically telling you that what you’re doing for or giving to me isn’t good enough. But I didn’t tell him that part.
“But I don’t want to have to ask you how you feel about me,” he said. I tried to control the shock I felt. Somehow, as a girl, it never crosses my mind that men might want to know that you dig them, that you’re into them, that you like them, too. I just assume he knows how I feel by the way I look at him, by the amount of time I spend with him, my insatiable desire for him.
“Oh, come on,” my voice was incredulous, “like you don’t know.” His face was open, questioning; inviting me to tell him more. But I just couldn’t. Nothing sincere, nothing close to how I actually feel about him would come out. “You know I like you.” I knew that alone wasn’t enough. “A lot,” I added, just for good measure.
You’d never believe it from reading what I’ve written here, but actually saying out loud how I feel makes me horribly uncomfortable. I usually meet “I miss you” with a sarcastic quip, “I wish I was with you right now” with a joking “yeah, whatever. Sure you do.”
I can always write out what I feel better than I could ever hope to say it. I can spit venom more effectively with my pen than with my mouth when I’m angry. I can better articulate love on paper than I can with my vocal chords. I suppose it seems strange that I would prefer to write my feelings on paper as opposed to saying them out loud. Once you’ve said something, no on can actually prove you’ve said it. You can pretend it never happened. “No, I never said that,” can immediately diffuse volatile situations. But when you write those same words down? Irreversible. You’re forever held accountable for the letter, the note, the post you’ve written to or about someone. To some, that’s horrifying.
But for me, not having to face someone while they find out how you feel about them is priceless. I can’t back down. It’s how I really feel, and it’s out there. I have a horrible habit of recanting words once I’ve said them. “No, that’s not really what I meant” is very easy for me to say, even if I did mean it. And you can’t argue with me when I’ve written something. Those words are irrefutable. But, more importantly, my written words can’t be rejected. I don’t have to look at your face when I say I’m crazy about you, crossing my fingers in hopes that your eyes reciprocate what I’ve just said. I don’t have to chance the awkward tension that comes with me admitting that I was dreaming of you when my alarm went off this morning, and thought of you from the moment I woke up and never stopped until I fell asleep that night, if you don’t feel the same way. Even, even, if I know you do.
This fear has been with me forever. Sentimentality makes me uneasy. It has nothing to do with my last relationship, or the one before that. My mom has complained, since I was small, that I wasn’t affectionate or mushy. It’s just something in my wiring. But I’m a romantic, a hopeless one. I cried during the movie and the book The Notebook, I love love, I crave to hear that my boyfriend likes me. I want to know what he likes about me, why he likes me, how much. But when it comes time to say it back, though my mind is flooded with things I adore about him, I just can’t say it. I feel silly. Contrived. Like I’m only saying it because I should. And so, much to my dismay, my spoken description of my affection for him falls dreadfully short of accurate.
“You want to know how I feel about you?” I said, my face only inches from his. “Read my blog.” For some reason this causes me less terror than having to say it to his face. Even though he could call up every friend he has, give them the address and say “Check out how whipped I have this girl.” Even though it could terrify him with how much I really like him. At least he’ll know, and I won’t have to watch his reaction.
“I feel like that such an invasion of your privacy,” he responded. How sweet, I thought. But if you had a blog, I’d be reading it obsessively.
“But it’s not private. It’s a blog. On the internet. Anyone who wishes to read it can. Including you. And it’s all on there. There are people I don’t even know from all over the world who know how I feel about you. You may as well be one of them.”
I know he read it, because I told him – via email – exactly which ones to read. And though I feel better knowing he knows, I’m working on being able to say right to his face “I’m crazy about you.”