Public, Like A Frog

Are you my admiring bog?

I should dig up my old posts just to show you.

It's only fair.

I went looking for yours.

So I have this interesting hangup about saying when I love someone.

It's not like I expect it in return when I say it; I say it to let you know. I say it when I am certain I mean it and I hold everyone else to that same standard.

It'll be said when you're ready.

And I do feel vulnerable when I say it first. There are only a handful of times when I actually have- and when I didn't, it was because I was too preoccupied with timing.

I get so hung up on the right moment to say it— when neither of us are preoccupied, when I won't be drowned out by background noise, when we are both feeling relaxed and happy and good and don't have to work the next day, and we're both sober, and I want it to happen naturally and organically...

I wait for the perfect moment and that perfect moment never comes.

So what actually happens is the other person says it first— sometimes in passing, sometimes when we were both sitting down, sometimes in a shy text...

And I feel I bungle my response.

Either because it felt “rushed” and unpolished— even if it felt natural and right and good! Especially when I want to say it in return, to acknowledge that our relationship does indeed have mutual love involved.

Or I pause— and this is twofold. To make sure I heard correctly, and I have to take a moment to sit with myself because, as I said earlier, I say it when I mean it.

I don't just mean in a romantic way— I have no trouble saying that I love my friends, in that regard. But it's also not a word I use lightly.

“OHSHIT I LOVE YOU TOO.”

“And, love you.”

“Yes. I do love you in return.”

The first phone I ever fell in love through was a Motorola EM28. A fun-to-customize-with-stickers-and-wriststraps-clamshell-thing when accidentally dialing from your pocket or bag was still a real and frequent occurrence.

I heard it was fragile, so I bought a $10 case. I got the phone itself for “free” through ATnT's contact when I put my previous phone through the wash. I managed to salvage the SIM card, however. Or the rice bath was sufficient to keep my phone operating long enough to grab numbers the long-hand way. I can't remember.

But I do remember her.

We met online. We talked. We kept talking. We wrote. Emails, then texting when emails weren't enough. Then we called each other late at night.

We talked so much I was shelling out $90/month just to talk to her. I never told her that, because that was an expense I was willing to pay to ease the distance a little more. I didn't have enough money for the data the neat little pixel browser ate up, nor did I ever utilize the supposed music playing features of the EM28.

I wish I could talk like that again. I can, I have no excuse; my phone is capable of so much more but I've grown so quiet.

The phone sits on my desk now, charging after being missing for 8 years. It has been charging for hours. I managed to turn it on only once and it threw up an error of gibberish. My luck of having well-maintained electronics may have actually failed here.

I wonder if anything on it remains.

Yeah, likewise.

I don't like thinking about the one that got away.

I thought I'd never have that cliche story.

But here we are.

...I also keep coming back to one thing, why I'm so scared to initiate things. Yes, I'm shy, but the overwhelming reason is that I'm terrified of miss-stepping. I don't want to come off as pushy. I also worry about “reading the room” incorrectly or misinterpreting cues...

and I'm super imaginative and project a lot, which I am aware of. I get bogged down with What Ifs and possibilities.

I simultaneously worry about missing things, and messing things up.

It's a nice little ball of consent culture, and anxiety brain, and communication, and shyness. It's a big grey indistinct thing.

When I'm not paralyzed from it (if I'm unsure of a situation, I just don't act), it does a good job keeping me in check. My post-interaction query may be anxious, but it's communicating.

Generally speaking, But this is especially noticeable in moments of an intimate nature.

Calibrations are still required. I could be a little more blunt. Maybe a little more assertive. I've taken note of which cues mean what but I still should ask.

That sort of thing.

This is my first post.

How do you overcome it?