I’m sitting across from a dear friend whom I’m meeting for the first time in person. We giggle and gossip for the first couple of hours, but as those initial butterflies dissipate, more serious topics drift to the surface, and my anxiety rises.
Sharing the intimate details of my life isn’t something I shy away from. But I find it monumentally hard to share if it’s been more than a couple weeks between updates. There’s a lot going on in my mind/heart/spleen that underpins what people see, and whenever I need to catch someone up, I struggle because the story is so complicated. I often say nothing at all because there’s too much to explain to ensure they understand.
This time, I decide to dive in anyway because she’s the kind of friend that encourages you to tell your life story just by her existing. I start at the beginning. I say life’s been hard since my surgery. That I’m freaking about my career. That Lino and I are having problems. That I feel lost. That solutions are elusive and scary.
She nods and smiles empathetically.
I open my mouth to start explaining the emotional, mental, and spiritual backstory for each of those little factoids. “It’s just…” I say.
But she waves a nonchalant hand through the air to cut me off.
“Whatever, girl” she says somewhere between a laugh and a sigh, “I get it.”
And then, utter relief.
I don’t have to explain. She knows. Simple as that.
We continue our conversation for another hour or so before the waitress starts making pointed throat-clearing noises.
We hug on the sidewalk, and as we scoot off towards our respective destinations, she says, “I love you!”
I smile and wave.
As I walk back to my car, I’m all twitterpated. My heart is full and singing, my step light and bouncy. It takes me a while, almost to the highway, before realize that I feel loved.
Not because she said she loves me. But because she said she gets it.
“I love you” has been watered down to the point where it no longer means much. We love tacos, we love snow, we love running, we love beer, we love the smell of napalm in the morning. We “love” so many things, ideas, people, and substances that by the time we say the words to someone we want to bond with, to express their importance to us, the statement has little meaning. It’s been drained of its magic.
But “I get it” may be the sweetest, most meaningful thing anyone can say. There’s so much wrapped up in that phrase that we’ve erased from the more standard three little words. It encompasses such a depth of intimacy – of hearing, knowing, having been there, grokking what you’re laying down without having to explain. To “get” another person is to see them heart-to-heart. It’s what we want most from one another, particularly in a romantic relationship – to be seen.
That, my friends, is real love.