A Few Ways To Say "I Love You"

Say it aloud to no one in particular for practice, just to see how it feels. Let its syllables play on your tongue until you think you have it just right; memorize the inflection and the tone and the pitch of your three-word speech. Compare it to the noise you eventually hear when you announce it to something other than an empty room. Someday you will know how strange, how frightening the words sound when you have an audience of one, how unprepared you’ll be to hear them escape from your mouth, how those words are all at once familiar and foreign. No amount of practice will prepare you for that.

Show it by taking action, by picking up the phone and calling someone when texting or e-mailing or ignoring them altogether is easiest. Call your friend when you hear of a promotion, a breakup, a cross-country move and forgive them when months replace weeks and your phone remains silent. The reason we don’t call each other more often is not a selfish one, it’s a human one. We feel alienated, overwhelmed, embarrassed for having not done so sooner. Show your friends that it’s okay to be busy and forgetful and flawed. Show them you care about what they’re doing anyway.

Scream it in your head for three hours straight while you’re out to dinner with someone you can’t believe exists, someone who erases the past and the future and your peripheral vision just by opening his mouth and using letters to form words that create the kind of sentences that replace all of your skepticism and pain with pure, unmitigated joy; the kind of monologues that incite violence only because you have more adrenaline coursing through your veins than you know what to do with. Repeat it in your head at the highest volume, over and over because if you don’t you might punch him or squeeze him or say it out loud.

Declare it by sitting at the foot of your grandfather’s bed when he begins to tell you about your grandmother again, recalling how pretty she was, telling you how he misses her but that he’ll be seeing her again real soon. Don’t think about your cell phone charging in the other room; forget about the microwave alerting you that it’s completed its task. Sit there as he shows you the portrait he painted of her when they were young, describing the nuances of each stroke knowingly, like he’s aware that you’ve only really looked at it in passing. Say it by listening. Listen to him remember as his internal clock ticks in the background, quietly and off beat, his batteries fading before you both.

Recite it involuntarily when hanging up after an arduous call with your mother, a respite after remembering how taxing it can be to share DNA. Write it in a birthday card, in a text message, on a Post-It note whose message will long outlast adhesive. Spell it with the tip of your finger on someone else’s back when you’re sure that you mean it but are unsure of how to say it; and say it because when you mean it, it should never be left unsaid. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

image – Shutterstock

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