I say, “I love…” in abundance.
This has been discussed a few times with others. It has been suggested that when I use the phrase “I love…” to describe the feelings I have for many varying things, the emphatic value of the word is diminishing, as if it once was of larger meaning and is slowly haemorrhaging. I will say that I love an expression, or a food, or maybe a particular weather pattern. Does that mean when I say I love a person, that it’s the same as when I say I love fog?
Definitions of love are broad, and multiply by as many different people feel it. Merriam Webster defines it as multitudes:
~ a feeling of strong and constant affection for a person
~ attraction that includes sexual desire : the strong affection felt by people who have a romantic relationship
~ warm attachment, enthusiasm, or devotion
~ unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another
~ an amorous episode
~ the score of zero (as in tennis)
The irony of the last one is not lost on this writer, mind.
So, what do I mean when I say, “I love…”? It helps to quantify things in the english language, since words are so easy to assign personal meaning to. English is a very logical language, which can leave it weak in the realm of emotional communication. Since I strive to be as emotionally articulate as possible, I have thought a fair bit about what I mean when I use “love” to describe how I am feeling about something. It seems there is no other recourse than to elaborate my meanings.
I love the people I have chosen to keep close. I hesitate to use the term “friend” to describe them all because the word is loaded, and while everyone I love I consider to be friends, I also have other words I would use to describe them. The umbrella term I’ve settled on is “close people” because to say someone is close is not prioritizing them based on whether I am romantically or sexually involved with them, or whether they’re related to me biologically or whether i’ve known them for longer than anyone else. How I love them is subject to what they mean to me, though.
“I saw that you were perfect, and so I loved you. Then I saw that you were not perfect and I loved you even more.” ~ Angelita Lim
I love them so much that when they expresses some feeling or thought that so wholly represents what I understand them to be as a person, I can’t help but tell them right in that moment before I crumple in my seat and hide the huge smile that has spread across my face because of it, completely uncontrollable.
I love the rain. It feeds the planet and makes things green. It is comfortable and soothing. It gives me a reason to stay indoors that is acceptable to broader circles who don’t fear the sun as I do. My reverence for the sun stems from what it does to me individually (i’m very fair-skinned) as well as what is happening as the layers of atmosphere can’t keep it out the way they used to, as if they have grown tired of trying to protect us when we keep throwing carbon emissions and poison at it. As if the world isn’t increasing in temperature as a result. It is. I know it’s not the sun’s fault, which is why I fear and respect it rather than am angry at it. The rain is a respite, an illusion cast over what is coming.
I love her because she listens to me contend with my own humanity and validates me, as I hope I am able to do for her. She tells me what I’m doing or saying is okay and reasonable. She tells me it is even healthy to say or do things I fear, sometimes. She tells me about her own struggles; we compare notes and support each other. I love her because she will call me on my shit, and check it. She will ask me a question that makes me think about where my feelings are coming from, and that helps me grow. I learn from her whenever we interact.
“The love we give away is the only love we keep.” ~ Elbert Hubbard
I love them because they have been such a profound influence on me and my life’s trajectory. I wouldn’t be where I am without the exposure to ideas they have afforded me, or the lessons they inadvertently taught me when we were young. They broke my heart worse than I thought I would be able to bear at the time, but this taught me to question the supposedly solid ground beneath my feet, and if I thought it was real and sound enough to stand on. They showed me that could change at any time. They also outlined that if it disappeared, I would be okay eventually. They taught me to trust my own resilience, a lesson that came later while I curled up on their couch deliberating over what to do next about another broken subsection of my heart. None of this was intentional, and I have no idea how we managed to get here, but here we are.
I love biscuits. They’re soft, buttery, and taste delicious with preserves or just with butter. Turns out I love butter, too.
I love him such that it brings me to cry when he is telling me about some concept or feeling that he is struggling with. I sit across from him at a table in a coffee shop, or a restaurant, while he shows me with his words what is happening for him on the inside. Tears start streaming down my face because I just want him to be more comfortable in his own mind. I know he is doing a lot of hard introspection, and that is beautiful; I want to be able to relieve him of how hard his feelings are being on him, or how hard the state of the world is on him, or both. I deliberate over what I can do to support him, only to conclude that if he wants my support, he will ask. I don’t hold my breath for that because I see him do a thing that I do: explain away his needs with intellect. I explain away my own need to try to help with intellect. Around we go in a circle. I also want to reassure him that I can see how hard he is working on himself, and what an awe-inspiring thing that is to be able to witness.
“The giving of love is an education in itself.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt
I love words. I love the way I am able to download my thoughts into them, onto a screen so they don’t whirl around in my brain anymore, and I can read them back to myself. I love how writing is like taking a picture of the thought I have and freezing it right where it is. I appreciate how this allows me to think about it in the moment the keystrokes occur, as well as how it develops into something else later. Looking at writing is like looking at a series of thoughts and feelings, frozen or captured before they either escape or morph into something completely different and unrecognizable from what they were when written. Show, don’t tell, an instructor once said. Writing is also like being able to look at a situation or setting through the eyes of someone else, unlike any photograph.
I love him because he has been unwaveringly supportive of everything I have ever decided to do, even when he doesn’t think he would have made that choice himself. He never had a handbook on how to deal with me, or the set of circumstances that were to befall me when I was younger and he was my guardian. However, he somehow managed to instil in me the tools I’ve needed to navigate many challenges and in some cases, extract myself from complicated or dangerous possibilities. I take risks, but I always know when to get out. I believe my other guardian figures to be more skeptical of this, despite time and time again my proving that I have it “handled”. Whatever that means. I know what I need, despite my own skepticism of myself, sometimes, and he instilled that value in me: I always know when to get out.
I love her because of the way she cross one arm over her chest to cup her other elbow, fingers of her other hand dance along her lips idly while she inhales before saying something she has been thinking about for a minute, a mere second, or maybe for ages. The brilliance that is then spoken can’t be measured by how long she has contemplated the thought, because it’s all perfect. She is pure steadiness when I get emotionally cyclonic, acting the lightning rod to bring me back to level when i’m having a hard time. Her support in the way she mirrors me is completely unwavering, and I’m so lucky to have her to look to.
“I realized I was thinking of you, and I began to wonder how long you’d been on my mind. Then it occurred to me: Since I met you, you’ve never left.” ~ Unknown
I love my community because it is weird and wonderful. I enjoy being outside “normal”. Whatever that means. I want to also recognize that we are making our way in a strange, unpredictable world that has graced us with being born into really fortuitous locality so we get to sit around thinking about politics, privilege, feminism and relationships instead of whether a bomb is going to blow up our house or if it’s going to be too hot to live in our country at some point.
I love the people I have lost over the years, through death, or some great point of difference we could not overcome, or both at once. I love them despite these differences, because I know, maybe, a tiny bit more now than I did then. I’m sorry, and grateful.
Sometimes, I love someone for a second, a minute, a day, a week, a month, a year, seventeen years, or since the moment I laid eyes on them, and until now. Sometimes I tell them, and we share that. Sometimes I never do; I hold onto it until there are little half moons in my palms from where my fingernails meet skin in my clenched hand.
In those white knuckle moments, it is just mine.
“Love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is done well.” ~ Vincent Van Gogh