I Believe in Sitting On The Couch
I can still smell her on my jacket. The last time I saw her was when we stayed in her basement and sat on the couch under a blanket and watched a movie. I was staring intently at the screen but every ounce of my awareness was drinking in her every move; the way she breathed and how she blinked, how she brushed hair from her eyes by putting the stray hair in between her middle and pointer fingers before pulling it back and over the top of her ear. We sat close, slightly off center of the sofa closer to her end because of the stack of pillows near the end I sat at. The blanket covered one comfortably though not two, so we sat with our arms intertwined and her leg nearest me was nearly on top of my lap, but such innocent contact was both coolly acknowledged and deftly planned.
I had taken my jacket off because it was warm and she’d ended up draping it over her shoulder, which stuck out from the blanket. On the way home I could smell her on my coat and decided not to wear it so I could remember the best afternoon of my life more clearly with it. At that point, driving home in the gathering darkness, as deeply in love as I had every been before, I found that love was being with someone that you needed, not for anything but to fulfill something in your soul you never knew was missing before. This, even in the face of rejection, I believe.
I learned something from her, a rather sobering and painful lesson learned over the telephone and reinforced by a voicemail the next morning, that love given is not necessarily returned. Even the most sincere and deep love is not reciprocated for certain, and exposing such emotion will leave a person vulnerable to fate. While I was trying to remember every bit of her, she may well have been wishing someone else were sitting next to her. In retrospect, she was.
To me, love is the way she touches your arm when she’s talking and noticing how she laughs. It’s the way she folds her jeans up before she walks out to her car and how her bottom lip quivers when she’s angry. It’s noticing how she looks to the floor when she tells you she had a good time and how she slumps her shoulders when she wants you to give her a hug. Inevitably, love everything about her that makes her different than any other person in the world.
I believe love is being more whole; being involved in someone else life that you care for more than you do yourself. It’s the feeling of impossible worry when she drives home during a snowstorm, and waiting for her to call you before you go to bed cause you can’t sleep until you’ve talked to her and told her good night. I believe that we are here to love, to find our other half, and though it may not be a constant state of tingling bliss, it is something better than a life unfulfilled and alone.
The jacket is still in my closet, hung up though unwashed. A violently gentle and somewhat melancholy voicemail told me that she wasn’t attracted to me, and though it hurt I felt as though I had been happier for that short time than I had ever been in my life. The jacket will find itself in the wash at some point, when I don’t need her anymore and when there’s someone else who makes me worry less about myself than about her. But until then, in good spirits and with no regret, I’ll look at that jacket and remember the softness of her elbow on my arm and how she rubbed my thumb with hers when we held hands and how it felt to hear the phone ring just after I turned out the lights to go to sleep. I believe in love, in mutual infatuation and unbridled concern for someone else. This, I truly believe.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.