I didn’t know when I’d see Magnus again. The thought made me feel slightly ill, even though I was in denial. I would be fine!
But that night, something was different.
It was March 2017 and he was flying out the next morning. We had spent the week together. It was strange to know that he would be on a plane, jetting back to his home in New York, while I’d be here in Sydney, pathetically scrolling through photos of us on my phone, zooming in on his knees and thinking: “Wow, I like those knees”.
Earlier that week, Magnus had met my parents for the first time at a bustling dim sum restaurant. Mum had turned up late, squeezing her way through the maze of packed tables to get to ours, chattering immediately about the salsa dance party she’d been at the night before, and how she’d barely gotten enough sleep to meet us by lunchtime.
The way he’d humoured my mum’s mile-a-minute anecdotes and then my dad’s not so subtle “protective Italian father” questions made me proud. He’d rested his hand on mine while he spoke to them. It felt like my intimate worlds were colliding in a lovely, soy sauce-scented scene.
As the sun set over my apartment, the uncertainty of our reality kicked in. We had known each other for a few months and had fallen into a long-distance relationship, flying back and forth between Australia and America to spend a handful of days together at a time. Neither of us was dating anyone else, but we hadn’t said we loved each other.
I felt a little knob of despair inside my chest. I missed him already. What! Linda, no! He hadn’t even left yet! He was right in front of me, but I was already missing seeing his face up-close. We hadn’t planned our next visit. Who knew when we would have a beautiful moment like this again? I wondered if he was feeling the same weird mix of despair and delight.
I looked into his clear eyes and in that moment, I knew. He leaned forward to give me a hug and without an extra second to overthink it and swallow my feelings back down, I burst out: “I love you.”
I’d barely finished saying the words when he blurted them back to me:“I really love you.”
It felt as if I’d taken a giant cringeworthy leap into official love territory. But instead of leaving me hanging, he’d grabbed my hand to jump together. My body pulsed with relief and joy. I felt smug as hell too. I knew it!
We said it again at the airport the next morning, right before he went through the departure gates. I knew we looked like one of those horrific couples who hold on to each other for dear life. Gross. But inside, I was beaming.
Our long-distance relationship continued for another three years after that. In 2020, we’d planned for me to move over to America. The pandemic started right before my visa could get approved. Because of Australian border restrictions we found ourselves stranded on opposite ends of the world, not knowing when we would see each other again, again. That lasted a year and a half.
At times it felt like our relationship had been dealt a fatal blow. Yet somehow, we grew patience instead of bitterness. We waited and we stayed in love.
Now, in 2023, over six years since we first confessed our feelings, Magnus and I finally live together in Los Angeles. We don’t have to fly across the world to go on dates. We don’t have to straddle timezones for phone calls. We don’t have to do anything except live our funny little life together.
Linda Marigliano is a TV and radio presenter, podcaster and DJ. Her memoir Love Language is available now through Allen & Unwin ($34.99)