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I like you

If a girl admits that she likes you, know that it took her every ounce of courage she has. Don’t take her for granted.

I saw this on Twitter today and it reminded me of how stupid I was when my wife first told me that she liked me.

We were sitting in my car after a night out with mutual friends. She and I had been friends and colleagues for almost three years, but over the previous couple months, our relationship had begun to change.

At least I was hoping it was changing. Honestly, I could not imagine this amazing woman finding me anything but pedestrian (I still find myself thinking this today). Despite the late night phone calls and the amount of time we were spending together, I was still holding back hope, assuming that she was just a good friend and wanted nothing more.

Not to mention I thought she might still have a boyfriend. Though it was clear that her relationship with him was ending, I was not entirely sure that it was over yet when she made her declaration.

So while sitting in my car at the end of the night, Elysha told me that she liked me. “I like you, you know,” she said, and she reached out and touched my hand.

“Oh,” I said. “I’m flattered.”

I know. I suck.

What I should have said was, “I feel the same way, and probably more! Much more! I can’t believe it! I like you, too!”

But instead I told her that I was flattered my her statement of affection and let he leave without another word.

Four seconds after she had pulled out of the parking lot, I was screaming at myself for my stupidity. I pounded on the steering wheel, castigated myself for my incomprehensible insanity, and wondered if I would get a second chance to correct my mistake.

Unable to wait a second more, I called her. I was standing in the parking lot outside my apartment complex,pacing back and forth, when I dialed her number and was immediately transferred to her voicemail. I left a rambling, semi-incoherent message, explaining my stupidity, declaring my mutual affection for her, and begging for her to call me back as soon as possible, regardless of the time.

I received no return call. The next morning she entered my classroom,  handed me a note and left. In the note, Elysha apologized for the previous evening and assured me that we could still be friends.

She had not listened to her voicemail.

If we were living inside a romantic comedy, this scene would have been followed by a musical montage of gauzy scenes in which Elysha and I walked down long garden paths and bustling city sidewalks, heads down and alone. We would be seen eating TV dinners in front of the television while TV couples like Sam and Diane and Jim and Pam finally connected and found true love. Eventually we would be  reunited at the end of the film through some grand gesture, likely brought about as the result of a miraculous confluence of events.

But I did not want to spend another minute apart from this woman.

Instead, I immediately found Elysha, told her I rejected her letter, and assured her that I liked her as well. I explained that I had been a stupid, frightened man who was attempting to respond like a gentleman in light of the uncertainty surrounding the end of her possibly previous relationship.

But mostly I had been stupid and cowardly. 

Things between Elysha and me were awkward after that for about nine seconds. Less than three months later we were living together, and less than three years later we were married.

It was an inauspicious start to our relationship, but it worked.

I honestly still can’t believe it sometimes.