"Come down and help me with the groceries, honey," this from my typically very self-sufficient boyfriend is a red flag. "Help you with groceries? Um, okay." Something must be up, I'm thinking to myself, but slip on my clay-covered flip-flops and head downstairs anyway. He's parked across the street with groceries in the three cloth bags that I have finally convinced him to use. When I get closer, I see there's something on the seat of his Explorer also. White lilies.
I love flowers. I know they don't last long. I know they sometimes cost a lot for what seems like a little. But I love them anyway. They are so perfect and beautiful. I like the fragrant ones best.
I will spend 15 minutes at the store smelling all of the bouquets before choosing the one that smells the best and looks like it will last the longest. I will put them in the refrigerator while I am gone for the day just so they are suspended in time until I can get home and enjoy them some more. I will clean up at least a corner of the cluttered apartment so that they have a nice place to sit and be seen. I will move them around with me from room to room so I can keep them in sight. I love flowers; and he knows this.
So, of course, I make a big deal out of getting them. "They're beautiful! Thank you, M.!" I say with a smile and a kiss. He's a little shy about this display in the middle of the street, "You're welcome, [insert pet name for me that I'm not quite willing to share yet]. It's not that big of a deal." It's a big deal to me.
It means that he was thinking about me at the store. I picture him in front of the flower stands trying to figure out which ones to get. He is explaining as we walk toward the house that he chose the ones that were all still closed because then they will last longer and I will get to watch them open slowly. And he knows that the lilies smell so sweet when they finally open.
I picture him at the check out line with his predictable groceries of milk, oatmeal, OJ, chicken breasts, salad dressing, raisins, rice...and lilies. In my mind, the check-out person smiles as she places the flowers to the side so they don't get squished. Or perhaps he picks them up again right away to protect them from the 8 lb. milk attack.
Back in the apartment now, I check to see if any of my ceramic vases are tall enough, but they're not so I grab a faux glass (plastic) vase from under the sink for just such a happy emergency. He takes gets them all set up in the vase for me, cutting the ends off and putting the plant food in the tepid water. He's always very good at paying attention to detail and likes things done right. This will serve him, and his patients, well in the future.
That was four days ago. Today the lilies are opening at last. Even with the windows open to the first of the cool fall air, the entire apartment smells like a springtime garden. When I lean close, the fragrance is intoxicating. I have to be careful not to get too close, though because the thick powdery pollen likes to stick to the tip of my nose (as I have learned from personal experience). As I write this, one of the lilies opens right before my eyes.
Before M. goes out again with his friends for the night, he sits next down next to me as I stare at the flowers. He looks more serious than usual. He's upset, he tells me. Not angry, just quietly in emotional turmoil. It's my fault. It's all about these interviews and decisions coming up for me. "I hate this," he says. He feels out of control about what happens with us.
He really wants me to follow him to his program next year. He also wants me to be happy and do what's best for me. It's a complicated situation and we both know it. I have not made him feel confident in my feelings for him (because I don't feel sure of them myself...and I'm afraid of being wrong). It's making him wary of investing any more emotions into me--even making him withdraw from me more. I respect that he needs to protect himself.
Nothing will be solved tonight, but I get a little teary and tell him that I will decide as best I can. His leaving
me tonoight makes me lonely, I say. We have both been busy this week and have spent very little time together. "I'm lonely, too," he says as he puts on his shirt to go.
At least the lilies keep me company. Maybe that's what he knows best to do right now. The newest bloom is almost completely open.