This is a very odd emotion, for me—one of the trickiest, in my opinion: how do you express fondness without coming off like an idiot or like you are more than fond of someone or like you’re being insincere? I know it seems odd for fondness to come off as insincere but it has been my experience that this happens more than you would think. Personally, I feel like every time someone tries to compliment me or to say something sweet to me “out of the blue” a part of me is asking are you being sarcastic? As if having to articulate how fond you are of someone wasn’t bad enough, having to reiterate it just feels like too much torture for one person to handle all in one sitting: I’m always tempted to go the other way and be like haha, gotcha or something just to spite them. Sadly, it isn’t the person on the receiving end of this expression of feeling who is dying from frustration at being unable to say something almost taboo: to say, I like being around you but do not necessarily want to have your babies.

When I think of fondness, I am reminded of dipping my foot into the pool when I was a kid—there was the opportunity to go swimming but I didn’t have a swimsuit. I am not equipped to jump in, but I like sitting here, sipping juice; I like being just kind-of immersed. I like this state of just being appreciative of this water and this juice and the afternoon and wanting to sleep and not fully doing neither.

But how is this expressed in everyday? How is this expressed directly? How do you say these things? You could say I kind of think you’re cool which wouldn’t be completely true; you could say I want to be your friend but that wouldn’t be completely true, either. You could maybe say I’m fond of you but again, see if that works.

I’ve figured it out: again, the painful answer is that you don’t. There is nothing you can say to someone about fondness that will ring as true as laughing at a joke or giving them some of your lunch or making a joke or not saying anything when they fart. A lot of the time there is nothing to do except to do. I forgot who it was who sang it—a musician, somewhere who I used to listen to (my memory fails me at the moment)—that he/she/it/they is/was all about words and words are absolutely useless.

They are. At least there’s this. I figure the everyday things will just have to carry through: being fully in the moment with people you’re fond of, whenever you can. This way the restraint almost feels like tenderness.

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