My heart was beating in my stomach as I sat on the couch at the bike shop. I looked over at Travis while he was working; I had to make the decision and I had to do it now.
The events leading up to this moment were minimal; I had worked the mid-day shift at the Co-Op and we were to go for a bike ride. With the stress going on in my life at the time, and my nervousness over the realizations that I had feelings for Travis; I fell ill. One could likely say that fate played the right cards, and my not feeling well would lead to my feeling I was on the stand in court.
I had looked forward to this bike ride for a week, and when the day came, it completely bombed. I felt like a failure at that moment. I had walked into the shop with tears threatening to come forth; “I can’t ride today.” Travis assured me that all was well, and we’d just hang out and talk instead. I felt even more self-conscious, because I knew in my head what I felt. Since I knew it and accepted it, I felt like it was branded on my chest like a scarlet letter. How could he not see? How could he not notice? Why isn’t he laughing at me?
I was in a very scared position at that moment, because I’d never been one to confess like this before. Those who I’m friends with know that I’m an open book; I rarely have a conversation filter. This can be good and bad, but most people tend to appreciate it or find it unique. I have nothing to hide; I spent a lot of my life hiding. Talking and writing are my best outlets for expression; however, when I’m nervous I get very tongue tied.
Here I was, sitting on the couch and scared out of my mind. “What will he say?” “What will he do?” I played every question and possible scenario in my head. In my eyes, I wouldn’t be flattered if I confessed feelings to myself. I’m not much to look at; dark brown hair, freckles on top of pale skin, green eyes, short, and not quite athletic. I’m not anything that would jump out of a romance novel or a movie screen; I was just me.
I saw myself as a confused and damaged woman; who would want that?! I’m easy to be friends with, but I’m not easy to be lovers with. To me the proof was my decaying marriage; while we were friends, we stopped being lovers. To me, I had been rejected already, and I was petrified to be rejected again by someone who seemed to be a match. Who would want to soothe the wounds in my heart and attempt to bridge them together? Who would want to deal with a woman who had felt lonely over the last 5 years?
I looked at my hands, wringing them continuously and chewing the skin around my fingernails. I believe it took me nearly a half-hour or longer to summon up the courage. I figured that this would be my prime opportunity to keep on with the changes I was making in my life. If I was brave enough to end my marriage, then surely I was brave enough to try and let someone open up my heart again. I looked over at Travis and shakily I said “I like you.”
I continued, “I mean I like you-like you. Oh gosh! What am I saying? I’m attracted to you. I’m worried I shouldn’t be. I’m sorry! Oh gosh this is terrible! Um. Okay. Yeah. I like you.”
Travis looked at me, his entire face was smiling, not just his mouth. “Yeah, I know.”
“What?! How did you know?!”
“Well, you’re not hard to read.”
With this conversation I figured I was simply and utterly doomed. There I go again, an open book without even trying to be. I felt naked, completely stripped; where is an invisibility cloak when you need one?
“I like you too.” Travis said, with a smile playing across his lips.
I just stared at him. How could someone, whom I deemed very attractive physically and in personality, be attracted to me? Obviously, you can see I’m very harsh on myself, and it’s very easy to be harsh when you have so much going on in life.
Travis sat next to me on the couch and reached for my hand, I looked at how our hands are so similar yet different. His are strong and warm, mine are small and cold; both of us have longer fingers. Artist hands my grandma would call them. I put my head on his shoulder, it felt natural to do. I asked “What are we going to do then?” and Travis told me that the ball was completely in my court. He wasn’t up for pressuring me; he knew everything that had been going on. He wanted to be a friend to me and let me decide what I was ready for.
I had a feeling well up inside me, I’m not sure if it was courage or what, but it was powerful. I kissed him.
Everything inside me just burst. My fears were not so scary, my hopes grew stronger, and I felt like I turned the last page of one chapter to the beginning of another. My story was continuing, and it felt exciting. I overcame a fear of rejection, and for once, felt like I was headed in the right direction.