Its a four letter word that’s caused its fair share of trouble since the dawn of human kind. It’s a word I have been pretty skittish about ever since the ending of my longest relationship over 2 years ago. Tim has already declared that for him the “L” word was going to take a while. He wasn’t about to use it lightly. We both had to be sure. We didn’t want to hurt anyone, or get hurt again.
Truth be told I had been thinking about the “L” word a lot, trying to figure out when the right moment would be and if I’m honest, having to bite back my words a little during some moments.
I had been bugging my psychologist about it for a while. How do I know if I am in love? When is the right time to use those words?
“Well, tell me what you feel?”
“I miss him when he’s not there, I’m always excited when he turns up. I get anxious thinking about what would happen if we were separated. He makes me feel happy and safe.”
“So, why not call that love?”
“Because.. I think, this could be a genuine chance at the kind of relationship I am looking for, the kind I imagined in my 20’s. It’s so real, I guess I’m scared.”
So, it was with minor trepidation I had been anticipating this New Years. Tim was luckily going to be at my place for the New Years party, and I didn’t have any idea when we would be able to share another, what with his shift work and my work obligations too. Maybe tonight was the night when I used that word? I fretted over the champagne flutes, one of my favourite double-walled glasses got unceremoniously smashed and we made it to the balcony just in time for the countdown. Was this the moment?
No, the moment passed, too many people. We shared the first kiss of the year but the moment passed. I didn’t say the words I had been thinking about. Was I not ready? Was it too soon? How would I know?
An hour passed and the party was winding down, the mess was relatively well contained and people were at the tipsy-chat phase of the evening. I was glad I had disabled YouTube on the TV so we wouldn’t end up with the inevitable YouTube Party. I had decided that maybe the “L” word could happen another night, content to just enjoy the party.
“Hey, can we go get some air?” Tim yanked me gently from cleaning glasses and took me out onto the balcony. Although it was about 1am, it was a very warm and humid Melbourne summer’s night. The air felt heavy with moisture. We sat there on the balcony and made out like teenagers, interrupted once by some revelers who wanted to get their own taste of fresh air.
They returned inside to a blast of air conditioning and then he seized his opportunity. “Hey foxy… I love you”.
I very nearly gasped in surprise. Not that he had said it but that this was something he too had been planning. He’d been waiting for the right moment himself.
“I, uh, oh you brave boy” was my response “I love you too”.
And with that he broke the embargo on the “L” word. But I still felt uneasy. Was I ready for this?
“It feels thrilling to say it” he said it again as if daring himself.
I searched my own emotions. I didn’t feel a lump in my throat, I didn’t feel a shortness of breath. I just felt safe, calm, happy.
Was this love? I have been trying to separate out in my mind my need to be needed by someone and actual romantic love. Needing to be needed was unhealthy, but love. Well, that was quite another thing.
What was love anyway, how was I supposed to know. My mind drifted to the song “Perhaps Love” written by John Denver, but the version I remembered so clearly was sung in duet by two boys in a choir I saw in South Africa decades ago. At the time, in the back of my mind I registered it would be kind of cool if they were singing to each other.
Anyway, as I fell asleep, I committed to myself that I would learn to play the song “perhaps love” on guitar, and sing it. Maybe that would help me understand my emotions better.
So today, first day of 2022, once the hub-bub had died down and the apartment was controlled chaos, I sat and tried the tabs quietly by myself. As long as the chords are easy ones, I find songs faster to learn now.
I played it a few times to get the chords right, then got into getting the words right.
Then I cried. I cried and I sang, I sang and I cried.
The version below doesn’t have crying in it.
Love is both a source of support and a wide deep unfathomable thing like the ocean. It is as diverse and varied as there are people. Also, love is not just a feeling. Love is an action, love is a choice.
Like the choice Tim made on that balcony last night. I realised after learning the song that the song had to be for him, because last night and for countless days and nights over the last two years I have seen Tim’s love towards me in action. I am excited at what this relationship could be for both of us.
“Goodnight” he said as he rolled over onto his side. “This is going to be a great year”.