I said this, approximately.
Thank you for your email. It's nice, and hard, to know more about how you feel. I don't really understand you motivations for sharing what you've said. Your words are both generous and prickly. One way I hear it is "I love you, but I'm not going to do anything about it for a number of reasons." Your letter feels like a confession, an admission. It seems like something you needed to tell yourself. What did you need me to hear?
I'm not like coral, my darling. I don't die when I am touched. Big pieces of me change all the time. Broad swaths of the reef of me have died a dozen times. Humans aren't as fragile as you think. We are each whole ecosystems of intent and passion, of hunger and desire and generosity. I don't think you're as fragile as you think either. I'm glad you understand so much about how your heart and time and body work, and I find all the rules you've crafted around it amusing and exasperating.
You will fall in some big love and learn a thousand things, and so shall I. And whole forests of me will die off a dozen more times, and there will be thirty more versions of me, and all of them always will have been the same. But stronger. All of this is good. Sometimes I might even make you dinner.
I love you means many things. It is nice to hear from you. I hear it with your generosity. I don't remember when, but you got tapped into my friend family (the family I choose) at some point. Thanks for being someone who inspires me, who makes me feel more alive, and who keeps me in touch with what's important to me. Seeing you, in whatever context, will always feel like coming home.
Be well, sweet you. Give yourself permission to go after the things you most desire. Leave off all the 'but' and 'and' and 'wish.' Chase what you most desire until your lungs, your everything, is screaming. I love you for your hunger and your generosity, and those true parts of you don't exist in a city or a body or year. They're invincible qualities.