I’ve decided that 2023 will be my year of saying yes. Yes to new experiences, like going to watch the Rugby7s (I know, sports – blergh). Yes to new adventures, like returning to Nepal. And yes to new love. Yes peeps, this cynical sop has fallen in love.
It started out awkwardly on Christmas Day. We overslept after two bottles of champagne on Christmas Eve. I had to pack the Jeep with food and gifts and baking and my dog to head to my parents. AJ (as I’ve decided to call him here) was helping and between us we got me ready to go. As we were kissing goodbye, I went to say, “drive safe” which I always do when he’s leaving work, heading home, heading out and instead I blurted “drive safe, love you”.
Now, I am confident this was said automatically, as one would to a friend or loved one and even as professionals have sometimes said to me at the end of a work call. It’s habit, pure and simple. However, it did not stop me from dying in the driver’s seat. Mortification set in as I covered my face with my hands and clumsily tried to explain and backtrack.
AJ looked delighted and then he just laughed. He told me it was OK, and he understood I wasn’t saying “I love you”. Even so, I couldn’t make eye contact and reversed out of my driveway shaking with embarrassment.
We messaged later in the day where I again explained and clarified what had happened and he insisted he understood.
He spent Christmas with his family and was away for a few days while I spent this time at the beach. When we finally caught up, it was the night before I was heading to Brisbane for five days to spend new year with my bestie. He asked me if I wanted to be his girlfriend, which is oh so very high school, but as I am sure I’ve explained before, it’s so hard to know where you stand with dating these days. The conversation about what you are and aren’t, casual dating v exclusive dating v a relationship … when you’re looking for serious, these things matter.
But, when he asked me, I said no. I pointed out that while he was making progress toward addressing concerns I had related to the relationship with his ex-wife, I still wasn’t entirely confident. However, I assured him I wasn’t dating or talking to anyone else.
Somehow overnight, and in the course of waking up next to him, I changed my mind. I liked being with this guy. I liked having him in my bed and spending time with him and it was easy, despite the inevitable drama of his past relationship that I know is going to cause issues in the future. So, I told him yes, I’d like to be in a relationship as he kissed me goodbye at the airport.
Brisbane was great. We were housesitting a fabulous resort-style house in the burbs and we lay by the pool, day drinking, snorting lines and doing acid. Acid was new for me, and I doubt I’ve laughed so hard in all my life. I also felt happy, real genuine happiness. And the next morning, I woke up to a literal rainbow next to my head.
I had slept in this bed for three nights and woken each morning without rainbows on my sheets. I was so uncertain it was real, that I took a photo on my phone and text it to AJ asking if he could see it. It was real, as real as a rainbow can be that is. It was somehow refracting through the bedroom window and casting itself down next to me in incredibly vivid colours. I took it as a sign.
AJ picked me up from the airport the next evening, presenting me with yet another bunch of flowers. He headed back to work the next day while I headed back to the beach for my last week of holidays.
We saw each other through the week without planning it. My whipper snipper broke, and he came over to fix it, then insisted on finishing off my lawn while I showered. Then he dropped in when a friend came to visit so she could meet him and again ended up staying the night.
By Friday night, I thought he would be sick of me, but he came over and I cooked dinner, and we shared a few drinks before tumbling exhausted into bed. We never get enough sleep when he stays over, fucking in the afternoon, the evening and the morning.
We spent all weekend together being satisfyingly boring – morning coffees, walking the dog, going out for lunch, cooking dinners, playing chess (yeah we’re nerds), drinking wine, and sharing platters of cheese. Then yesterday, we had stripped the sheets and remade my bed when we flopped down on it to cuddle. Cuddling turned to sexing turned back to cuddling.
Since Christmas Day, he has enjoyed giving me shit about me saying “love you” and admitted he had also almost blurted it out a few times, in an automatic, instinctual way. So, this weekend, for some fun, I started saying “I love USBs”, “I love utensils”, “I love universal adaptors”, with a heavy emphasis on the “u” before finishing the sentence. I got him good several times, and he returned serve which made my heart flutter.
Then yesterday while we were cuddling, I just said it – I love you. He was waiting for me to finish, to deliver the punchline, waiting for the “SBs” for USBs and it didn’t come. His look of surprise turned into a look of sublime happiness, and he kissed me.
Now, this may sound all sweet and rosy but my history with telling men I love them is anything but. Every time I have said it first, the man has inevitably broken up with me (see When you love someone, Learning old lessons again, Those three little words). Not right away of course. I usually get an I love you back either immediately or a few months later but the break-up always comes.
I guess in Tom’s case, the I love you was never reciprocated at all which perhaps explains the chaos of endings and beginnings that plagued us for four years.
So, the countdown is on I guess. Anyone care to make a bet on how long it takes until I fuck it up?