When I say that I love you, I mean that I see you for who you are, even when you don’t see yourself. That I want to hold space for you to explore and go to the edges of your being, of your identity; to run free and create yourself anew every day, only to love you all the more when you come home and recount for me your new treasures and discoveries.
When I say that I love you, I mean that I never want you to feel caged in. I never want you to feel pressured to stay when you want to leave, and I never want you to feel that leaving means you lose my love. When I say that I love you, I want you to know that it isn’t conditional on whether you love me back.
When I say that I love you, I mean that I love the way you formulate words, the way they rest on your heart and travel to your lips and into my ears. I love the way your hands trace my body like they trace your guitar, turning me into a song that only you know how to play. I love the way your face becomes so animated when you tell a story, like one of your characters. I love the way you hold my hand when we watch movies in bed and our fingers dance together like they have all their lives.
When I say that I love you, I mean that I would never hurt you or make you feel unworthy. I would never try to put you down or make you believe you are anything less than the miracle you are. You are human, and you are everything messy and complicated and imperfect that comes along with it, and I would never fault you or make you feel guilty for that. To me, that is what makes you beautiful.
When I say that I love you, I mean that I will still get angry and upset with you, and you will get angry and upset with me. I want to have difficult conversations that make us cry— not because they break us apart but because they break us open and bring us closer.
When I say that I love you, I mean that I want to champion your dreams and hold your pain in my arms when you feel that you can’t carry it on your own anymore. I want to be there at 2 a.m when you can’t sleep and remind you that you can— that you don’t need me or anyone else to do in this world what you came here to do, but I will be here for every step forward and every step backward along the way, even if those steps lead you away from me.
When I say that I love you, I mean that I know we are on different timelines, but what I feel for you is timeless. Our story is but one endless run-on sentence.
When I say that I love you, I don’t mean anybody else’s definition of love. I don’t mean to label you or me or us. I don’t mean I want with you what society or our families tell us love should look like. I want what we create together, by no other definition than what it means in our hearts— a love we get to redefine at every moment.
When I say that I love you, I mean that you don’t owe me anything. What I feel for you is now a part of me, of who I am and who I am becoming, and I will integrate that into my being forever. I will love you, even if I never see you again. Even if I never hear your voice whisper in my ear or feel your arms around me once more.
When I say that I love you, I mean that my love doesn’t have an expiration date. I will not be here suffering in the waiting for you, but I will be here— no matter where you are— wanting nothing but the very best for you. Praying that whoever you choose to share your life with never takes a single second of it for granted and is capable of giving you everything you didn’t know you wanted.
When I say that I love you, I mean it.