“You are wonderful. I love you.” And you say this with no fear, with no conditions, with no vague sense of embarrassment over what it means to care about someone who may not care for you in return. You show that you have not been beaten into a patriarchal pulp by all of these ridiculous expectations that you don’t show how you actually feel. You look at us and see a kind of haven from all of these mixed messages which rise to an aching frenzy in a repeated chorus of “Be strong. Be silent.” With us, you are different. There is poetry within you, a frothing sea of words which you let slip forth when we are lying together with our heads on the same pillow.
There is something in us that makes you feel at once innocent and incredibly strong, something that reveals the ridiculousness of all the pretense we feel the need to put around love. Your love for us is not a parenthetical phrase in an otherwise-serious story — it is front and center in your mind, and on your lips. We are perhaps unaccustomed to such powerful gestures of sincerity, but they feel strangely familiar when they are presented to us in such an overt way. When you speak to us, we feel this electricity of honesty wash over our body in a way that seems so much more significant than any touch you’ve ever placed on the small of our back.
You do touch us, though. And your touches are often accompanied by small, soft compliments — less in there interest of stroking our ego, more a delighted realization of the honor it is to have us lie naked before you. You are simply overwhelmed from time to time, and a muted “Oh, God,” is all that can escape your tangled stream of consciousness. Under your hands, we feel new and loved, we feel like a prized being that is at once revered and respected, never banished to the realm of the object but always treasured with a proud kind of care.
We want to hear what we do to you, what has changed because of us, what you are looking forward to constructing with us every day. You are mistaken if you believe that the simple presentation of a generously-cut diamond is the most effective way to demonstrate your love to us. You have been fooled by the same media who told you that it calls into question your masculinity to admit your moments of very human weakness. Your love is not measured or typified by a precious stone or elaborate gifts, it exists in everyday gestures which do not wait for some incredibly special occasion to make themselves known.
Maybe that is the most important bit of all — you know that each of these acts, this honesty about what our love makes you feel and how important we are together — are nothing deserving of special reward or recognition. You do them not because you are saving up points to later use to your own benefit, you are open because the back-and-forth itself is its own reward. Your love is not doled out sparingly over holidays and whenever you get an extra day off from work, it is constantly flowing between us as something that neither has to be ashamed of.
And when you say “You are wonderful. I love you,” you are not doing it because you imagine it is what we want to hear. You simply cannot keep these sentiments held in, you can’t pretend they are not there, because they are simply too much for one person to contain. You understand that love is not something you can point to and say “Look, I did it.” You know that it is a living thing which grows and flowers every day, but only if tended to.