Thursday, January 10, 2013

"Love you"

A funny thing happened to me twice in less than a day.  Both times, I felt the same awkwardness.

The daughter of one of my good friends threw up at our house last night about ten minutes after they got here.  I mean, she really threw up.  In it were chunks of feta cheese from the pasta I'd made the day before.  They changed into some of our t-shirts and left.

Her daughter threw up six more times over the next two hours.  She's a little peanut of a girl, so everyone was worried.  Finally, after consulting with me and people who actually know something about this sort of thing, my friend decided to take her in to the ER.  After she finished giving me the short run-down over the phone, I wished them well and told her to keep me in the loop with what was going on.  In a semi-frantic goodbye, she said, "Okay, I will, love you."

I smiled and blurted out shyly that I loved her too.  Those aren't easy words for me to say, no matter how much I may mean them.

A woman in her 80's who used to teach art in the program I work is fighting cancer.  I've known her for a solid two years (maybe longer? I lose track of time).   I honestly did not like her when we first met.  She is a little bit off her rocker about some things, but I have always had a soft spot for folks like this, and I have missed seeing her over the last six months or so.

I called her today to tell her that I and some of her former students really want to come visit.  She was thrilled with the news and, with a similar semi-frantic goodbye as my friend last night, said, "Okay, I look so forward to seeing you all! Love ya!"

I felt the same thing: an initial awkwardness that quickly morphed into a warmth in my chest that spread up into my neck and face, ending with my tilting my head and smiling.  I felt all at once so embarrassed and happy and then wanting to cry as I thought about this old friend of mine letting slip that she loved me (and all of us, she probably meant, her old class of immigrant elders who thankfully could never understand much of her semi-racist comments and questions).

The love is still there.  It's funny how true that can be, how love can exist and thrive among such different sorts of people and how it's sometimes only through some threat of emergency or death that we express those feelings.

 I've never been good at these expressions.  I have this sister-in-law who, every time I see her, grabs me around my hips and kisses both my cheeks in this really forceful way that I could never fight.  I feel like I end up limply hugging her back and wincing at her affection even though her aggressive hugs always make me feel loved.  I'm funny that way.  I have no idea why I am so reticent about showing my love for people.

Last night and today, with my two friends who let slip they love me, my heart literally feels that love as I ruminate on this post.  There's an ache of love in my chest that would make me cry if I kept thinking about it.

So in the stoic fashion I was born with, I'll end this post, pour myself a glass of wine, find some TV to watch before bed, and definitely stop using the word "ruminate."

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