Nick and I had just finished dinner at P.F. Chang’s restaurant and were walking back to our cars. He was heading back to school that night so we had driven separately. We didn’t want to say goodbye, so we just sat there between our two cars delaying it.
It was spring though, and I began to get chilly enough to the point where Nick insisted I get in my car to warm up. He joined me for a short while before finally mustering up enough sense to get in his own car for the two hour drive ahead of him.
We were in our separate cars, but neither of us left. We just sat there, staring at each other through the glass. He had pulled his car through the spot, so both of our driver’s windows were facing one another. With the chill outside, they got foggy enough for us to write messages and we had a lot of fun with that. Eventually Nick, after resetting his window, got this goofy-emotional smile on his face. He wrote the letter “I” at the top and the word “you” at the bottom, leaving a big-ol’ gap for another word in between them.
While I can’t remember the exact date, I believe we were only three months into our relationship at this time, 90% of which was spent away from each other with him at school. We had not said “I love you” yet, but it was well overdue. So what did Nick do with this big empty space on his foggy window? For what felt like a long while, nothing. He just sat there.
Keep in mind too, at this point dinner had probably been over like, an hour ago. We really delayed the whole saying goodbye thing. So after Nick had let the suspense grow, he finally wrote in the window’s empty space – “goodnight”.
I was NOT having it! You can’t do that to a girl!
I got out of my car and (happily) yelled at him to open that stupid door and say it right. I truly mean it when I say I happily yelled this – like I was smiling and laughing – and ticked, but not actually, you know? He finally said “I love you,” and I said it back. There was so much happiness there at far-too-late o’clock in the P.F. Chang’s parking lot.
Of course before finally saying goodbye, I berated him with, “Who does that?!” and “You suck.” But much more “I love you”s. Much more.
To this day, we occasionally slip in an “I goodnight you” instead of the real thing. But for us it is the real thing, maybe even more real than the real thing. Saying I love you can just become muscle memory, a reaction without thinking after a while. But when an “I goodnight you” slips out, you know in that moment they really were thinking about how much they love you.