A couple of months ago, an old friend of mine mentioned on Facebook that he’d be coming to town to play a gig and to visit family and friends. It’s been ages since we had a good visit. I had moved away from my hometown for many years, and just before I moved back, he moved to the big city. We made plans to meet.
I got to the restaurant first. When he arrived and I caught his eye, he was radiating smiles. I’m not much of a hugger, but remembering that he’d hugged me the last time we’d seen each other, I stood up to greet him. He enfolded me in his arms, gently twisting side to side, and kissed my cheek over and over, scratching me a bit with his stubble. His warmth was like a sunbeam. And surprising. It hadn’t been like this before.
We sat. He looked the same. Long straight hair the color of honey. Eyes a shade of piercing blue that is hard to look at without staring. I had forgotten those eyes.
He asked me what was going on in my life and I froze for a moment, then stumbled over a preamble: most of the interesting things are things that I don’t really talk about. He half-closed his eyes and shook his head a little to say, Doesn’t matter, you tell me whatever you want to tell me. We smiled, chatted, compared, commiserated, caught up. We talked for two hours and weren’t done yet.
The last ones to leave the restaurant after lunch, we headed out in the sunshine, and he happily flung his arm over my shoulder. I put mine around his waist and we walked together.
“Hey, let’s pop into this restaurant so I can say hi to Badger.”
“You know Badger?”
(I last saw Badger last year, after years without contact. Somehow I discovered where he was working and dropped by to say hi. Way back when, I had gone out with him for something like three weeks and then broke up with him; I hadn’t had my head on straight before getting into that situation and had always felt a little bit bad about it. At that last meeting I gave Badger my email address so he could reach me to set up a visit. He didn’t contact me, and I took the hint. Eh, I tried.)
So we went in and said hi to Badger, me hanging back at a discreet distance because this had nothing to do with me. My friend gave Badger a hug (which Badger, a little defensively, loudly declared to be a ‘man hug’). No kisses on the cheek though; ah good, I’m still special.
We headed out into the sunny day again and when it was time for me to go, he gave me another big hug, followed by a kiss on the lips. This was also new, and not unpleasant. We promised to keep in touch.
I was busy the next day but sent him a quick text saying how much I had enjoyed the visit and that we’d have to do it again. He reciprocated. Warmly. He declared that I was one of his favorite people. Why didn’t I know this before?
“I love you Zoe! Stay in touch <3”
Umm, what? Yet another a surprise. Well, sort of. I was surprised (but very pleased) to have sensed that warmth clearly the day before, warmer than I remembered him being towards me. Love? I was surprised that he said it, but I don’t doubt at all that he meant it. It felt like love.
I gave it some thought and decided, yes, this is a feeling to which I can in good conscience apply the word “love”, regardless of what exactly he might mean by it.
After he said he loved me, I got a little giddy, and my imagination ran a little wild. Ahem. Then he thanked me again for meeting with him, told me again how much he had enjoyed it, used that word again: “love.”
I mentioned that I expected to be coming through the city at the end of July (en route to visit Gawan, in fact, though I didn’t explain that part) and that I hoped I could visit. He scoffed when I said I’d just be there the one day, so I asked him how long he’d like me to visit; he joked that I should move out there!
Discovering that he values our friendship so deeply has been like finding $500 in my jacket: Wow, this is fantastic! But how could I possibly not have noticed it before?! If this is really what he’s like, then I want him in my life, simple as that. I sure as hell need some good friends.
But the warmth was so above and beyond what I’m used to that I can’t help but wonder precisely how he feels about me.
So, my plan is to explore this friendship without any preconceived notions. Instead, I’ll seek to see what is there rather than looking for what I think should be there. Could be interesting.