We’d made plans for Lee to come back the next weekend for a party my best friends were throwing in Raleigh. But first things first: we had to tell my ex-boyfriend [let’s call him Steve] who, if you remember, was one of Lee’s two best friends from college.
To say that we struggled with this is putting it mildly. Although we dreaded telling him, we both wanted to be the one to tell him. I wanted to do it because I was certain that if I could just pick the right words, I could make him understand. Lee wanted to do it because, of the two of us, he actually still had an existing friendship to lose. I just had the hope of a one-day-in-the-distant-future friendship, when he would eventually forgive me for how horrible I had been to him. This news would obviously make that reconciliation less likely, so again Lee had the most to lose, and therefore, the most to gain by being the one to break the news.
What are you going to say if he says no? I asked Lee, nervous. But we weren’t really asking his permission, after all. Because Steve and I were broken up, had been for a while, and weren’t getting back together. We were just telling him what was already happening. Regardless, it was terrifying for me to let Lee handle it.
Here’s where the story gets fuzzy, because Lee doesn’t remember parts of their conversation and is loathe to publish the parts he does remember. But he did come to Raleigh on Friday, he’d definitely had The Talk, and whatever details he provided me at the time made us think that everything was going to be ok, despite all of our worry.
We were relieved, elated, hopeful.
So when we finally had a chance to sit down at the party, it’s no wonder my lips were a little loose.
Someone took our picture, and afterwards I turned to him, still smiling.
I love you is what I said.
What I meant to say was I love that you’re here. As in, I love that you’re here and not on the phone. I love that you’re here and not in Richmond or Jacksonville. I love that you’re here and not with anyone else.
But I did love him, so I let him have it anyway.
[Should I mention that he didn’t say it back?
And leave you with another cliffhanger?
No, I won’t do that to you.]
But he didn’t say it back. Not right away. I didn’t mind though. He took a week to think it over and told me then. And he’s told me every day in the eleven years since.
I think I’ll let it slide.