Fact: I am still very much single. Because this is just a story, not any kind of representation of my life. Stories are like that: we tell falsehoods but no one gets mad. Because some of us are born to be the voices of others, and some of us just occasionally pretend that we are. Anyway, enjoy a short Saturday story.
I’m going to offer you a thought. It’s not a very good one, as you’ll soon see, but nevertheless I am going to offer it to you in full expectation that you’ll flatly reject both it and me. But I’d appreciate it if you’d hear me all the way out because I know that this moment will pass, and the thought will lose coherence, not that it’s coherent now, but I’m going to try to word it semi-right. So. Here goes.
I love you.
That’s probably not what you were expecting to hear from me. Scrawny, nervous, never-make-up-my-mind-about-anything me. And it’s not really something I was expecting to think, much less to believe, much less to say aloud to you. Powerful, graceful, larger-than-life you.
But the more I contemplate it, the more I know it’s true. I do love you.
I love the way you love others. Your deep, genuine smile as a first grader demands your attention and proceeds to tell you all about how in art she learned that blue and yellow together make green and how did you know that your shirt was actually blue and yellow before it was green and isn’t that remarkable. Your soft, attentive eyes as a soldier opens up to you about the chaos living behind his eyelids and in his ears that just won’t go away because no one and nothing should undergo the things he’s seen and heard and how will he ever feel normal again. Your gentle, soothing hands as you cradle a kitten who mews plaintively for his mother and for warmth and to never see that cardboard box again and to snuggle closer to the rhythm of your heartbeat.
I love the way you shine. Your enthusiasm whenever a friend calls with a baby on the way or a promotion gained or a ‘She said yes!’ that needs rung from the rooftops. Your can-do attitude in the office when a project looms large and deadlines close in but still fail to dampen your spirits. Your genuine outbursts of joy that shock anyone who doesn’t know you and amuse those of us who do and draws all bystanders a little closer to understanding happiness.
I love it that you’re brave enough to cry, regardless of who is watching, because the world isn’t fair or right and it breaks your heart.
I love it that you never give up about what you’re passionate about, even if life is dead-set on convincing you to take the easier route of complacency.
I love your fire and spirit, your kindness and compassion, your intelligence and wit.
I love your openness and honesty, your brokenness and flaws, your dedication and commitment.
And your eyes.
Lord have mercy, I love your eyes.
I have always, and will always love your eyes.
But I think that’s allowed. I think I’m permitted to admit that your outsides properly match your insides, that the person whom I love embodies loveliness itself.
All that said, clumsily though it might’ve been put forth, I am willing to admit that I am not who you are probably most inclined to love. So no pressure. Because, try as I might, I do not say the right things to children, the broken do not pour their hearts out to me, and I am quite allergic to kittens. Friends don’t think to call me when it is time to celebrate, my desk is awash in just-past-due projects, and the scars on my wrists bear testament to the way joy often eludes me. I am not brave or strong or wise. And when I look in the mirror, sometimes I almost can’t see me.
The only reason I’ve said anything at all is that as we were walking home from the game tonight, and everyone was laughing and our breath was fogging the night like so many tiny dragons, a streetlight hit your snow-dusted face and I had this thought that I couldn’t shake. And I couldn’t shake it all the way down the streets as our cadre was pared down by home after home. And now that we’re at your door, and the snow is still drifting about us, and you’re gazing at me with those—heaven help me—those breathtaking eyes of yours, I know that I can’t shake this thought because, no matter what you think of me or what you say to me or how you avoid me tomorrow or forever, it’s true.
I love you, and—
You…you do too?