I was sitting at my friend Andrew's dining table in the mid afternoon. I had stopped by to pick up a book I needed for a writing project and decided to stay and work with him a while. It was quiet and peaceful and he was bent intently over his work. I slipped slowly into the silence and wiggled my way into its corners. After a short spell I looked up at him from across our computer screens and said, "Tell me there's nothing wrong with me." I cupped one side of my face in my hand, smudging vulnerability like a shoddy makeup job.

"What do you mean?" he asked cautiously but tenderly.

"I mean, with Sam, not wanting … Tell me … "

He interrupted softly, " … that you're not inadequate?"

I nodded and looked down at the keyboard where I knew the slow but open tears would soon land.

He spoke slowly. "I think you are beautiful. And I think you love people fiercely. That is an amazing gift." I was both surprised and grateful that he hadn't repeated his usual praise about my intellectual and creative gifts. Somehow he heard me speaking from that shier crevice of my heart, the one easily layered with "shoulds" and "ought tos," the one whose fragile fractures are habitually hidden.

"I. Think. You. Are. Beautiful," he repeated.

I nodded rapidly, still looking away as the tears came. "I know, I know," I whispered. "I know." I could feel his caramel colored eyes trying to stare these truths into my heart. I could feel how quickly I wanted to bypass his words because some part of me still struggled to hear it.

We sat quietly across the table from one another. I wept freely into the small cradle of comfort his words had carved for me. I knew he believed what he had told me and somehow I felt that seeping back into me as I cried. ...

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