Three Small Words

I’ve said, “I love you,” to the four exes in my life. I didn’t always say it first, and I didn’t always say it a lot, but I said it to them.

With Shane in particular it was… different. We were long-distance before the Internet really made long-distance normal. We were on the cutting edge of Internet long-distance, let’s say. (Yeah, let’s say that, because the alternate explanation is that we were totally weird.)

We did say “I love you,” which, in itself, is kind of a thing. But we were also fifteen years old and long distance. It’s kind of a big thing when you add in those factors.

So I think I sort of understand why Shane often qualified his I-love-yous with a little dig or a joke.

I love you… more or less.

I love you, or at least strongly like.

Well, I guess I love ya, when it comes to that.

It never registered as hurt, exactly, when I was in the moment, but when I read those letters back, it causes a little stab of… something. We were cutting edge (or weird, or brave, or whatever) in a lot of ways, but I guess you can’t be great at everything. We shared a lot of words between us– poetry, compliments, adorations– but those three small ones seemed to give us some trouble.

Maybe it gives me that little stab now because I know that years after we broke up, we talked and the infamous, “I don’t really think what we had counts as real love anyway,” thing happened.

But it was real to me. And that little stab reminds me just how real.

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