I Freaking Love You
There aren’t very many firsts in my life I care to say a whole lot about. My first day of school was less than memorable. My first crush was too juvenile to bring up. The first time I drove a car was too embarrassing to keep as a memory at all. The one thing in my life that is interesting enough to discuss is the first time I said ‘I love you’ and meant it completely.
In the beginning, he was my best friend. Dillion and I were virtually inseparable. In the mornings before class, we would go get Waffle House or donuts and coffee and walk into school together like five-year-olds would, laughing like we had a secret and completely irreverent to the rest of the world. He was two years ahead of me, but we did have one class together—psychology. I loved that class. I can’t say it was entirely because the subject kept my focus, though. From the whole year, I only vaguely remember two or three things, like the video on schizophrenia about which we made a full hour and a half’s worth of rowdy commentary. We didn’t shut up. We breathlessly shot back and forth with conversations incomprehensible when taken out of context. I don’t know what I would have done without him. Dillion was my best friend. Except for when that wasn’t enough.
Not long after the school year had started, I had come to Dillion’s house before school to make breakfast. This wasn’t an abnormal occurrence. The atmosphere of this morning was different, though. We sat on his back porch and drank our coffee. Usually, we would have bantered in our disorganized, hyperactive way, but on this particular morning we were both quiet. He then said what, at the time, I thought unthinkable.
“I broke up with Sam.”
He broke the silence. Actually, no, he shattered it. For six months I had been waiting for this. I had pined, I had eaten Walgreens’ inventory of Lindt chocolate, I had Facebook creeped, and I had pretended not to feel the concrete weight in my chest every time Dillion talked about Sam. I was completely incapable of speech. I could only look at him dumbly with a secret need to smile.
He took a sip of coffee. I did the same.
After a few minutes, I had the impulse to put my head on his shoulder. I immediately felt awkward, so I sat up straight again. It was still silent. Thirty seconds later, he put his arm around me. I tried the head-on-shoulder thing again, and this time it didn’t turn my face red. I don’t think we said anything for a solid ten minutes. I don’t think we needed to.
That morning when we walked into school, I felt the big shift. The big shift from childlike friends to something that would make a better movie.
We stayed up until three the next morning texting. I had successfully conquered that awkward, painful “just friends” period, and I can assure you that every step is still saved in my phone.
***As good as it felt to know that Dillion and I were more than friends—and let me tell you, it was a huge relief—I still felt a pang of incomplete honesty. I could feel words line up behind my teeth whenever he would leave my house. I coughed on a silence I couldn’t pinpoint. It was a silence I refused to pinpoint, mostly because I knew one hundred percent that if I allowed myself a pause from my new-boyfriend mania, I would see what was there and accidentally admit something too ridiculously premature to count. A week went by. Two weeks went by. The more I ignored the words on my tongue, the more the feeling behind them persisted.
A few dragging days later, he sat with his arm around me like always. I cast a sideways glance at him every few minutes, too afraid to make eye contact for prolonged periods of time because Dillion seemed almost telepathic when it came to me. After too much of this game of staring tag, he finally caught me.
“Is there something on my face?” he laughed, running his hands over it out of paranoia.
“No, you’re just cute!” I said. Lame, but honest.
“Well you are welcome!” Dillion responded jokingly.
At this point, I didn’t really think about what was coming out of my mouth. Out of the millions and millions of possibilities, I verbally vomited what I felt, for the few torturous seconds it took to say it, had to be the worst.
“You know, I would be afraid to tell you I love you because you’d only say ‘you’re welc—,’” I let fly out my mouth. Unexpectedly, I was interrupted rather than walked to the gallows in awkward silence.
“I’d say I love you too.”
Pause. I was temporarily struck dumb again. It didn’t last long, though, because somewhere in between crying (just one tear, I promise) and laughing, I lost control of my mouth’s movement.
“What? Wait, are you serious? Did you just admit that? Did you just say…?” I trailed off in disbelief. I can only hope now that he never for a moment mistook my giddy shock for the emotional equivalent of scooting away from him.
“I love you. I mean, I really do. Actually, I’m in love with you. Big difference.” Dillion looked at me, and then down to his fidgeting hands, and then back at me.
“I’m in freaking love with you, too!” I half-squealed. I was completely surprised with how different those words tasted when they were directed at an actual person rather than a mirror. A lot more satisfying.
Dillion’s eyes never were quite so green, and while I know how nauseatingly cliché that sounds, it’s the absolute truth. A flash went across his face that said he was relieved to get that off his chest. From the burn in my cheeks, I guess I must’ve been blushing ferociously. That moment is something I will never forget. From the wash of clean honesty to the dizzy, stupid smile on my face, that memory is the most whole and vibrant of any I’ve made. We were best friends. We are best friends. And I’m completely in love with him. I mean it.