When we’re sitting on the couch in silence or just taking in the sunset at the park, he asks me, “what are you thinking about?”
I say, “nothing.”
It’s the easiest answer requiring no explanation, no response, no fumbling of words or racing heartbeats. Nothing to worry about. With “nothing,” I’m safe from saying the wrong thing.
But when I say “nothing,” I really mean “everything.”
Don’t get me wrong — I can talk to my boyfriend about anything and everything. In the five or six months we’ve been dating, I’ve learned that he never judges me. Ever.
In fact, he embraces me; both literally and figuratively, every time I open up to him.
Every time I break down in tears after trying so hard to compose myself around him, to avoid seeming weak, I see nothing but warmth and wonder in his eyes.
In all of my weakest moments, he looks at me as though I can move mountains. He pulls me up when I feel down and when I want nothing else but to remain there.
Yet in those simple, quiet moments when he asks me what I’m thinking, I can’t help but say nothing or “nothing.”
Sometimes I just don’t want to talk.
Not because I can’t or because I don’t trust him; I do, with everything I have.
But sometimes, I just don’t want to get into it. I wouldn’t know where to start.
When everything is jumping around in there all at once, I don’t want to sort it out right then and there.
I want to go home and figure it out. I want to write.
I don’t want him to worry. I can take care of that.
Sometimes when he asks that question, I’m not thinking of just one thing.
Because when I say “nothing,” I really mean “everything.”
I’m thinking about the good things.
I’m thinking about how lucky I am to have found him.
I’m thinking about how I got to that point, what road I took to get me here: next to this beautiful human being.
I’m thinking about where I might be today if I had bailed on our first date like I wanted to, because I didn’t see the point in dating anymore.
I’m thinking about the scary things. About how one day he might leave.
Maybe one day he’ll realize like all the others, that I’m not the one for him.
Maybe one day he’ll get bored of this city and move on to the next dream, the next adventure.
I’m thinking about whether or not I’m just a stage in his life or a chapter in his book, and if we have the potential for something greater.
I’m thinking about the sad things.
The way my mind works and the way I can’t help but get sucked into my own depression and anxiety, and drag him down with me.
I’m thinking about how clingy I might have become. Or maybe at times I’m too distant.
I’m thinking about every wrong thing I could possibly do, what I might say to scare him away.
I’m thinking about being careful, not doing anything to deliberately hurt him. Because he doesn’t deserve that.
I’m thinking about my feelings and what they might mean for me, for us.
I’m thinking about what love is. What it’s supposed to feel like. Because I don’t know any more.
I’m thinking about how I might say it and when. How might he react and if he feels the same way.
I’m thinking about all of the times I’ve wanted to say it but couldn’t.
I’m thinking about all of the times it’s felt right. But I wasn’t sure if I was ready or if he would be.
I’m thinking about the next time I think about it.
I’m thinking about how I think too much. How I should just live in the moment and be thankful for this.
Because I am. I’m thankful that I have someone who is okay with me saying “nothing,” because I’m just not ready yet.
It’s not that these are things I’ll never say. It’s that they all come at once.
When I say “nothing,” I mean everything.
The good, the bad, the in-between of the relationship that has made me believe again.
Despite all the nonsense and confusion that often fills my brain, the most important thing for him to know is that I’m the happiest I’ve ever been.
With him, and us, and everything that took to get us here. It’s far from nothing.