I’m dress shopping today. I wish you were here, picking pretty things for me, making me feel beautiful. You always excelled at making me feel beautiful.
I fell in love with you this September. I think you knew it before I did, think you felt the air shift slightly as I tumbled in graceful and glorious denial. I think you had one hand on the small of my back, gently nudging my fall, wanting to see what would happen. Everyone wants to be loved.
I think you heard meaning in my voice before I did, and even later when I tried to hide it. My eyes probably betrayed me. They’ve never been able to hold a lie.
Only now do I see all the ways I gave myself away. Love woven through fingers laced through your hair. Nestled between my head and your shoulder. Tucked in each secret I shared. Exhaled with each laugh and each sigh. Inhaled with each gasp and each breath of your scent.
I’m sure that you knew. Did you?
You’d never tell me either way, but in my mind, you love me too. Our love is a thing I often think about. I’m thinking about it today.
Our love is not the ocean or the sky. It’s not an old oak tree or a stratified rock formation. It hasn’t had the luxury of space to magnify into something vast and limitless, hasn’t had the luxury of time to grow rings or layers. No, it’s more like a diamond, made from something remarkably ordinary and essential to our everyday life, willed into fiery existence by some cosmic power, violently high heat, and pressure. Brilliant and sparkly. Multifaceted. Sharp and strong.
Compact, colorless, and easy to misplace.
You once accused me of using words that were too reductive for what we had between us. When I made it all about sex. You didn’t like that. You liked the actual sex, just not the name or the label: sex. Three tiny letters didn’t do us justice, did they?
How about four? Love.
Never to be uttered between us or written in script on a card. But named, finally. And felt, certainly.
When you really love someone, you never stop wanting the world for them. Not in the passive, thoughtless flicker of a way that you might wish the best for the woman with red eyes on the subway or a distantly old lover whose touch you can no longer feel on your skin. I mean this on a much more visceral plane, where your essence lives and is slowly being woven, stitch by glittery stitch. It’s a fierce feeling. Like a silent wish or prayer, like a negotiation with Destiny, asking Her to make sure their journey is a good one, a beautiful one. That they’ll find the things they seek. That they’ll be protected from pain. That they’ll love and be loved, purpose defined.
People often say that there are different kinds of love. I believe that. When I start to sort through and categorize those nuanced manifestations, the word itself feels so limiting and insufficient. But then I think of that underlying desire, that fierce feeling, that negotiation with Destiny on someone else’s behalf and not needing to take any credit and not knowing if you’ll ever even see the fruits of your invisible labor. And it makes me realize that maybe we had it right all along with this little word. Love with its many faces but the same at its core. It’s how you’d love your mother, sister, pastor, friend, partner, pet, and child.
And it’s how I feel about you.