We were up at the cabin for the weekend. It was me, my boyfriend, and some other guys - mutual friends of ours. This relationship had started several months before and I felt dissatisfied. It had seemed like the right thing to do at the time, though almost as soon as I started dating this guy I felt constrained. An invisible hand choked me almost constantly. The thought kept occurring to me that I would rather be with him - another guy, my best friend. He had always had a girlfriend, so I suppressed my feelings and thought I had gotten over him. My current relationship had only made me realize I would have been much happier with the other guy. He had just broken up with his girlfriend of two years, and the only thing I knew was that I wanted to be with him all the time. I knew I needed to reevaluate some things and figure out what to do. For me, this weekend was a chance for introspection.
This particular evening, the guys were exulting loudly in the living room, taking delight in the production of sound from their own mouths and nothing more. I slipped out to the porch. Quiet settled over me and my soul felt more at peace than it had for months. A wind brushed the treetops but here below, it was still. A moment later, he joined me. We sat in peace together.
“Are you happy?” He asked me this in his usual direct manner.
My stomach lurched and I stared at the gravel between my feet. Finally I answered. “No. I’m not. I’m not unhappy, but just dissatisfied. My soul is restless. It itches.”
“Interesting,” he replied. “You know, that’s kind of how I felt with her. For about a year. It wasn’t fun.”
I swallowed and my cheeks began to burn.
“Really? Are you happy now?” I asked. He stared meditatively at the dark woods and twitched his mouth before answering.
“Yeah. Mostly, I guess. Are you?” With the question, he swung his head back towards me. I could feel his eyes searching for clues on my face.
“You already asked me that.”
“Okay, then. What’s the one thing that would make you happy?”
My head spun and I could hardly breathe. The only thing I could hear was my heartbeat.
“Mmm...the only thing that could make me happy is kind of ridiculous and completely impossible.” He didn’t answer. I swallowed around the lump in my throat. In the silence, dread lay a heavy hand on my shoulder. Had he guessed? Suddenly he spoke again.
“You know, that sounds kind of like the thing that would make me most happy. Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” I didn’t look at him at first. He liked to pretend that we could read each other’s minds; this time I wasn’t sure if he should be reading mine.
“Hey. Are we thinking the same thing?” His direct eyes pulled mine upwards. I met his gaze with a tentative smile.
“Maybe?” I hardly allowed myself to think it.
“You know, I think I love you. I didn’t realize it until you were with him, but I need you with me. You understand me really well. It’s like you can read my mind. You make me happier than I ever have been.” His gaze had returned to the darkness and remained there. The wind tossed the treetops and roared somewhere up the valley.
“I can’t say it now because of him. But wait for me, give me time to fix things there, and I’ll never stop saying I love you. I’ll say it with my actions and my words and my thoughts and I will never stop as long as I live. I’ve been waiting so long for this and -” I faltered. Tears stung my eyes as something inside of me broke the walls I had constructed so long ago. He laid his hand on mine.
“Don’t worry. I don’t give up that easily on happiness.”