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When I leave in two weeks' time, I will not say to The Neighbour the night before I leave, "I wish I could stay here and have breakfast with you every day. My breakfasts in Arkansas will be miserable by comparison. I have enjoyed my time with you more than I can express, and my life will be the poorer for not having you in it. I really don't want to go." And I can virtually guarantee you that The Neighbour will not say, "I really don't want you to go. You have made my life so much more fun by being here. I will miss you every day." Indeed, I cannot imagine that I will make the first utterance (mine) to anyone I'm leaving here, although there are many people to whom I might make it. I won't say what I want to say because of the post below, which means I'm not going to take the risk of saying that and not having the person respond in kind, and The Neighbour, or my FTT, or S.A., or almost anyone else won't say it for the same reason, or because they might feel foolish, or simply because it wouldn't occur to them.
But why? I have given up going first, which is why I wouldn't make such an utterance, but why don't other people do it? I can't believe that, except for messed up or deeply repressed or deeply reserved (which I think I would slip in under the heading of "odd") people, anyone wouldn't like to know that they're loved and valued, and so I can't believe that people wouldn't want to make others feel loved and valued. Just being - as in, "I wouldn't be with you if I didn't love and value you" - is not enough, since every day we hang out with people we don't like, we repress thousands of irritations, and we settle. Also, just being is not enough because people don't exist, I believe, in a state where they just believe they're great, or unique: they need some top-ups to remind them. Also, the pleasure of telling someone you love (in whatever sense of that word) that you love them is enormous: how delightful to make someone you love happy! And how equally delightful to be able to say, as you do when you tell someone they're awesome, "I know an awesome person!"
What exactly is it people are afraid of, leaving aside the possibility that the sentiment might not be reciprocated? Looking foolish? I guess I can't see how expressing love makes you look foolish. Being embarrassed? Of course it is embarrassing at first to make such announcements, but the pleasure given vastly outweighs the embarrassment, I think, and in any case the embarrassment fades. Are they afraid of expressing emotion all together? If that's the case, I would, just out of interest, like to know why. What's so bad about expressing emotion? Well, I'm embarrassed about it, too, so I guess I can sort of answer that. Expressing emotion makes you look weak, because offering always makes you look weak, I think (because if the person refuses you look like a fool for offering). It also makes you look weak because it shows you have layers and needs: to say, "I like you" is to indicate that you're looking for someone to like, maybe even that you need someone to life, and that's an admission of weakness, in its own way.
And yet, I'd like to think that if I hadn't given up being brave all of these factors wouldn't be able to overcome the fact that it would make the other person happy to hear themselves treasured, unique, missed. What a lovely thing, to know you matter! And, as the teller, how lovely to know someone has made you happy!
Incidentally, on Monday I'm going to try to make this cake:
I'll try to remember to post a photo of my attempt.