Not the Reaction I was Expecting

There are about eighty cajillion ways to say “I love you.” For the verbally challenged, Hallmark offers an array of glittery cards, heart-clutching teddy bears, and keep sake ornaments. There are the classics like the initial-carving tree thing and the Jumbotron (because nothing shouts out those three words better than flashing it in front of 50,000 drunken sports fans). I’ve seen grandiose gestures: sky writing, tattoos, and billboard declarations. But most telling is the simple, every day gestures. Things like making sure the toilet paper rolls from the top and loading the dishwasher “her way.” And then there’s my approach: saying “I love you” with drawer space.

Many moons ago, eCrush dropped the three words while we were in the middle of a fight. Since his timing was less than ideal and my emotional baggage train and I weren’t ready, it felt like he was using love as some sort of relationship dirty warfare. I’m a Reacter, not at Thinker, and so, I countered with the Biggest Relationship Gaffe of All Time. He said, “I love you.” I whispered, “You bastard.” Yep. Brilliant move on my part.

It took eCrush and me a few days to work through that one, but we did. Arguably, we were stronger for it. Our communication improved, our understanding of each other was more complete, and I think eCrush found a sort of peace once he let me know how he felt. He’d put himself out there, and after that, what happened next was essentially up to me. While I know eCrush was fine if I remained a step or two behind him on the love ladder, I wasn’t. I kept feeling this strange guilt. What was wrong with me for not keeping up? Why couldn’t I appreciate this amazing man enough to love him? Was I ever going to feel that way?

The three words were always there, even though eCrush didn’t say them again. And knowing how he felt changed everything for me. The Somebody Loves Me Besides My Immediate Family Rosy Glasses were on. Every action, every word, every look was infused with a little something special, but not enough to push me off the love cliff. So, we muddled along, until the morning he brought me a Diet Coke in bed. There we were, reading the paper and talking, me sipping my pop, and it washed over me. I loved him, too.

Because I’d made such a hot mess of our last conversation about feelings, I wasn’t sure how to tell eCrush. Just saying the words wasn’t enough. I felt a gesture was needed to give them backbone and maybe even a wee bit of validity. But not some overly romantic, sappy gesture that would make my inner five-year-old gag. I needed something with meaning. A million times, I almost blurted out the words; while he was brushing his teeth, watching TV together, debating the pros and cons of cheese at Whole Foods. But I never did. This was too important and precious to toss out in the middle of a grocery aisle.

A few days ago, I found my perfect Declaration of Love opportunity. Over the course of our relationship, eCrush had all but moved in and a significant part of his wardrobe was living in piles on my bedroom floor. Bionic Kitty and Number Two loved the new sleeping possibilities, but eCrush wasn’t a fan of daily cat hair removal. As much as he wanted to, he never solicited for drawer space. I think he knew that he couldn’t ask; that if he did, I’d throw up my emotional barriers again. Instead, I had to be willing to just give it. So, this weekend, while eCrush was out of town, I rearranged my closet, my dresser, my life. It wasn’t a 50/50 space split, but at least eCrush would officially have his own storage and a real place in my life. While I was feeling particularly lovesick, I even went out and bought him a set of drawers. $96.69 worth of bonded steel love. I bought a mushy Hallmark card, wrote a sappy message, and placed it in the top drawer. Perfect.

As he walked in my door post-trip, eCrush told me he “just popped over on his way home from Reagan.” Sure he kissed me, but I knew something had shifted. The dynamic was off and I was terrified. Desperate to get a reaction, I told eCrush about the drawers, walked him into the bedroom to see his space. He looked at me, a mix between agonized and frosty, and without a word, he left. It’s been two days now. Trouble is brewing in Couples Land but I’m not sure which way the storm is going to blow. And in the meantime, the note and my heart are still sitting in the top drawer, waiting for him.


10 Responses to “Not the Reaction I was Expecting”

  1. Laina Says:

    What a douche. Want me to come kick his ass? That’ll make up his mind quick.

  2. Laina Says:

    Sorry, I’m exceptionally hostile today. Maybe douche is too harsh. Or maybe not.

  3. kjohnsonesq Says:

    I was going to go with King of the Fucktards, but douche works too. Thanks for the offer, Laina, but the line to inflict injury is forming behind me.

  4. pithycomments Says:

    Yet another reason kittehs are better than boys sometimes. And my ass-kicking skillz are also for rent. As is MommaPithy’s rusty machete.

  5. E Says:

    Normally, I’m a Fury on these sorts of things but maybe something happened (not in a bad way) while he was gone, or he’s confused about this and what it means. I’m being nice here. Not knowing what he does/why he was gone dampers judgment on this one. Let me ask you this, how long ago did the diet coke epiphany happen and how have relations been between you since?

  6. Lola Famous Says:

    I’m with Laina. Douche. Tool. Mr. Insensitivity.

  7. laura Says:

    If you’d like, I can have Natalie puke on him. And his lame shorts.

  8. Melissa Says:

    I’m sorry. That must have been really hard. I wonder what happened on his trip? I hope you guys can talk about it soon so you can feel better.

  9. sofarleft Says:

    Hold a place for me in that “inflicting injury” line. Totally uncool of him, especially after you allocated a substantial amount of space for his obnoxious plaid and elephantine gear. Well, I guess you can now use those drawers to hold the things you’ll be buying on your “look how hot I am in my new clothes” revenge shopping spree!

  10. suz Says:

    Balls! I hope your cryptic twitters are not an indication of the situation. I hope you’re okay.

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