Apparently, Love Actually is Black and White

Don’t be misled by the title here. I’m being completely sarcastic, in case you can’t tell. In my 30 years of life on this planet, I’ve come to believe that the phenomenon we all know as love, this complex feeling every one of us has experienced in some form or another, is difficult to fully understand, which is to say that there is a gray area. At least, I believe there to be a large amount of gray.

Contrary to my belief, there are those who see love as a much simpler issue than I make it out to be. It is black or white, no two ways about it. Either you love someone, or you don’t. Plain and simple. If you love someone, you’ll do whatever it takes to be with them if that’s what you want. However, what about when you love a friend? I’m talking both as a dear platonic friend and also as someone you see yourself romantically involved with? It can be difficult to see things clearly with regard to where the line is in a friendship that dips into romantic spaces, but my feeling is that as long as the lines are clearly defined between the parties involved, whether you are in a romantic relationship or not, there can still be a healthy and rich friendship to be enjoyed.

I had been talking to some people about one of my dearest friends, who I am in love with and have been in love with for many years, and there seems to be confusion about intentions and true feelings. You may have read the previous Spider-Sense entry and questioned whether or not there was more to the story. Of course there is, but for the purposes of this discussion, I wish to focus on the gray area, something that came up in the counseling meeting I had with my friend a month ago now.

The gray area, as it pertains to my relationship with her, has to do with us not feeling clearly defined to each other. What are we? Are we friends? Are we in a long distance relationship? To give a bit of context, my friend and I have known each other for about a decade. In that time, we became very close. After two years in California, she had to move to Colorado, where she lived for two years before moving to the east coast, where she has resided for the last six.

Over the past eight years, I’ve flown out to see her five times (three times for birthdays, once to celebrate her completion of graduate school, and another just-for-fun visit. Actually, the fun visit part was included in each trip). Needless to say, we’ve maintained our connection across the three states of California, Colorado and Massachusetts, with an impromptu excursion in New York at one point in between.

Well over a month ago, I flew out to the Boston area to surprise her for her 30th birthday. Now, most people would probably see that as a “grand romantic gesture”, as she called it. Some might even say I made the trip hoping for something in return. However, what those people don’t realize is that even-though I love her, my visit was not about professing that to her, especially since she knew my feelings for her at that point. Still, I knew my intentions well. We live over 3,000 miles apart and though we have maintained a relatively strong connection, I’ve been realistic. There was no real way for us to be together unless things were different. After four out-of-state-visits before that point, without expecting anything in return except enjoying her company, I went to give her a nice surprise for her birthday like she did for me when I turned 30. That’s it.

The following might be a question I receive: ‘Why go all the way out there if you aren’t going to take the plunge and tell this person how you feel?’ The fact that one makes a big trip just to surprise someone on their birthday doesn’t fly with most people. It’s as if it is completely unbelievable that someone would do that for the sake of the surprise and nothing more. When you consider every other visit and how at the core of all them, my intentions were always the same, while being in love with her, making that trip for the sake of it, should fly. I never saw a reason why being in love could prevent you from being a good friend and regardless of my feelings, I’ve always felt that I was good at that. Being a friend I mean.

See, my friend and I were once romantically involved for a few months before she decided that she no longer wanted us to continue in that direction. We agreed to remain friends. After a space of not seeing or talking to each other, we ran into one another at the school coffee shop and started talking, which opened the door to us going back to spending lots of time together as we once did even before we began seeing each other exclusively. It was like old times.

This continued until she moved away. Just before she left, I wrote her a long email in which I expressed to her that I loved her. We never talked about it. After all, what else was there to say, with her moving far away? She might have said she loved me too or something of the like, but she didn’t. What she did say, on the very last day she was in California was, “I’m sorry, for everything.” There was a lot that transpired during that two year period, perhaps she felt that was necessary.

Fast forward to last year. I had flown out to spend four days with her to celebrate her birthday. On the second day of my stay, she expressed to me that she loved me. I knew she cared about me, but never had I known that she loved me. She had never said that to me, not even in jest over the, at that time, nine years I’d known her. It wasn’t only that she finally told me how she felt after all that time that struck me, it was how she did it. She did it over chocolate. Special Mexican chocolate. It was reminiscent of our first date eight years earlier on which I told her that I really liked her. Over hot chocolate. Now, that memory was something I thought about every now and again as I pass the area where we had that date every so often, but her having been away from California for years, I never realized she ever thought about that. Yet, she did; and she brought it up.

As of today, it has been a bit over one month since the counseling session, which was the last time we spoke. In that conversation, she expressed to me that she was planning on taking some space and that she will talk to me again, but she doesn’t know when. She felt overwhelmed by everything; between me popping up on the eve of her birthday and whatever transpired between her and the guy she had been seeing (who she apparently is no longer seeing, which was suggested during our counseling session) as a result of my visit it was a lot for her. So, she needs some time. Fair enough.

So, love is black and white. Clearly, it isn’t as complicated as I make it out to be. Rather, it is probably me, who is managing to complicate things. Love is just being its normal illogical self and I’ve fallen victim to it. It remains to be seen whether or not things will ever get back to a comfortable place between my friend and I. We’ve had conflicts before, times where she has been upset with me and needed space, but this feels different. This is a very uncertain place I feel we’re in, but my hope is that I haven’t lost her completely. Frankly, with the 3,000 miles distance between us, it would be easy (and easy is relative) for her to forget me. All we can do is wait and see.

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