How To Say "I Love You"
Unintentionally walk with her past a park you’ve never been to before and suggest to walk through it, just to see. It’s late May, no clouds, soft and green. The temperature combined with the occasional breeze strikes you as reasoning that humans exist as iterations of cosmic DNA lucky to have stumbled upon the capacity for joy. Inadequately describe this feeling by telling her the walk feels the same as when you woke up next to her this morning and the window was ajar and she put her leg over you recklessly, like that’s what she wanted and she wanted it before she knew it so it was just something that had happened, your frontal lobes not privvy to the agenda shared by each of your bodies. What’s your favorite fruit? she texted you yesterday afternoon, before your picnic. Mango, you texted back. Be aware of the contrast between the mundanity of the concept of a walk in the park and the total proliferation of electric vibes and positivity that’s currently defining the shared experience. This is physically manifesting in several noticeable spikes in seratonin production in each of your brains. She’s wearing a yellow sun dress, a grown-up version of the kind of thing a little girl wears on a picnic with her parents. Perceive this in combination with the way the cool 83° Fahrenheit temperature couples with the angle of sunlight, average effect of each breeze, and hovering luminescent clusters of dandelion seeds, and detect a distinctly physical emotion that will not be articulated accurately by the following words: the desire to physically merge, a desperate want, an exciting vulnerability, peace. Instead move your right hand toward her left hand and hook her ring and pinky fingers into your index and middle fingers and view both of the hands momentarily as a message of expectation, a meeting at the same frequency, a comfortable fading of self. Steer past a small man-made reservoir toward what looks to be a sort of water tower at the top of a hill. Notice that the sun is at the two to three p.m. position and remember that your cell phone is dead. When can we hang out again? Tomorrow? you texted her the day after your first date. She had been wearing a high-waisted black skirt and a white ruffled blouse, prelanguage indicators of maturity, domesticity, sex, confidence, strength. Hm, she replied. I’m not sure. Arrive at the water tower at the top of the hill and find that it’s been converted for the enjoyment of the public. Here you can go inside and traverse a wide spiral staircase to a level out of whose round brick wall has been cut open windows. Benches line the perimeter. Choose one to sit on and look out at the grass and the trees, the seratonin inside each of you now exerting a slow emotional pressure that you receive as foreshadowing of some kind of approaching cadence. The view from your bench is limited and rich. Move your pupils slightly toward her and sense her posture and intonation as a message of shared wavelength, the same one you shared when you walked her home on your second date and listened to Beirut together on your iPod, one earbud each. Position yourself on the bench so she can lean back on your chest and you can rest your left arm on the back of the bench and wrap your right arm around her soft stomach. Her yellow sun dress is eliciting instinctual feelings of affection and protectiveness. The tree just outside the converted water tower catches small pockets of wind and reacts meaningfully. Identify a kind of singularity; something about the tree, the wind, you, her. When she begins to move to sit next to you, feel the gap between moments expand and recognize the exact moment she correctly discerns the message of your posture. Her hair is soft, straight, the color of walnuts and alive, slowly interacting with gravity as she falls ever closer toward you, your breath slow and her yellow sun dress exuding an intentional, playful naivete and billowing slightly and her hands coming slowly to smooth it, smoothing it as you register an extremely gradual uptick in the quantity of adrenaline affecting your central nervous system and hearing through some distance her make a small, sweet, unintentional vocalization whose message is a kind of warmth. Watch as her extremely slow descent brings her body millimeters closer to yours and a gull sails so slowly at a downward diagonal angle past one of the windows that it occurs to you that the window may be a realist painting that the artist herself may have created to express something like You were meant for this world. Shift your pupils minutely back to the girl in the yellow sun dress and feel your brain associate it with a softness of character and a willingness to be pet and held. She’s on the bench now — her hair slowly alive, sanguine — correcting for distance so that she may lean back on you and that her head will be positioned just above your sternum and into the nape of your neck and so that you may wrap your right arm around her stomach and she may recline softly and enjoy the temperature and the tree which themselves feel the same as being in bed that morning on the fifth floor. Watch the space between your chest and her back close gradually, your vision slowly replaced with the olive of her new summer neck and the tip of your nose touching rows of individual strands of hair as her side fits into your palm for a moment. The sensation of the front of her yellow sun dress registers minutely on your palm and fingertips, but from a distance, and then slowly fades along your forearm into the crux of your arm. The message is a sort of peace. Her back settles into your chest on some extremely slow time, you exhaling softly next to her left ear as she slowly turns her face. Watch the movement of her ear as it moves to the right of your face while simultaneously moving your mouth close enough to it to have the effect of brushing against it lightly, trailing around to the place where her hair follicles align in their first row. Her olive skin is now touching your mouth. Her face is facing you but at a downward diagonal angle, such that she’s looking up at you and you’re looking down at her. Slowly discern a depth in both of her eyes as a message of trust and hope and register an incalculable tonal shift in both your facial expressions. Remember that you had considered maybe saying it soon and break eye contact with her when her eyes shift to your chin and her face makes an impossibly slow movement toward your neck. Discern with above average intensity and suddenness a cold point on your neck which is the tip of her nose. When she pulls back unintentionally, at the request of some universal force, and looks up at you with her eyes, make eye contact with her again. Inhale.
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If you’ve been looking for a chance to say something then this very well could be it.
I wish to God I’d had a list like this when I was 23.
Answer phones better than anyone else has answered phones before. Relay messages so brilliant, they bring people to tears. Turn the coffee run into the choreography of Swan Lake. Become best friends with every intern and every underling and every taxi driver you encounter.
I remember taking the pen and notebook from that woman outside the courtroom, flipping to a clean page in the book, and writing, JESSICA IS SAD in big, bold, uncoordinated letters. “My sister is going to be a good writer someday! Look at how nice her lines are!”