We write to each other, that’s what we do. Little love notes to share how our day is going. Emails, Skype messages, and little scavenger hunts for the sweetest handwritten cards. The first time I knew that I could fall for him was when we talked about my fear of getting hurt. I told him about the massive and dare I say, impenetrable wall that I had built since Matt and I broke up. His response? “I’ll paint some graffiti on that wall and when you’re not scared you can climb over it and see how pretty it is.” That’s when I knew I could love him.
I met T.J. the first day I arrived in Phnom Penh but was so jet lagged that I couldn’t remember the conversation we had, let alone what he looked like. Months later when I was out with my friend, Kate, I felt a light tap on my shoulder and turned to see him grinning at me. “Hey, we should grab dinner or drinks sometime,” he yelled over the music. I nodded my head clumsily and said, “Uh huh sure, sure.” When he disappeared into the crowd, Kate tugged on my arm impatiently wanting to know who that was. Unsure, I shrugged my shoulder and said, “Well, I don’t remember his name. I think he was just being nice though.” “Well, I think he likes you,” Kate said pointedly.
T.J. and I did finally have dinner but still reeling over a breakup I ended up talking mercilessly about my ex-boyfriend. I didn’t have an inkling that T.J. liked me caused he just sat there and listened. Patiently. And that’s T.J. in a nutshell. Nice. I know there’s the cliche of the nice guy, but frankly, I don’t think there’s enough nice people out there.
Through it all, there was T.J. He had turned into the person I trusted most. It never occurred to me though that I would like him more than a friend. It never occurred to me that it must have meant something that I get excited for our daily skype sessions (me in the States and he in Cambodia). None of that crossed me mind until one day the puzzle pieces came together and I knew I wanted to be with him. The irony of it was that I chose to tell him when he was making a connecting flight from Seoul to California and by that time I was back in Cambodia. So began our daily ritual of writing to one another.
“The desert smells like rain,” he wrote and I knew then that I could love him.