I had a friend who once told me, “When you love somebody, you should say it, right then and right there, before the moment just passes.”
That friend was Julia Roberts and the moment she said it to me was about halfway through the movie My Best Friend’s Wedding. And I fully believed her. And it became one of my biggest fears.
People’s stomachs curl when they think about having to speak in public, or wrestle with the concept of death. I feel that way when I think about the regret that comes along with not telling a person you love them.
It’s an undiagnosed phobia of mine, but it’s made me incredibly lax and easy-going with my “I Love You’s”. Sometimes, I’ve been guilty of saying it way too soon, by accident.
I once told a guy, in college, who I knew for five days, that I loved him. He walked me to math class, gave me a hug, and as he walked east and I walked west, I blurted out, “Bye Paul, love ya!”
I didn’t love, love him. I had only known him from a Monday to a Friday. But it came out of my mouth, in the same kind of way you tell a friend, bye, love you, after spending an afternoon shopping the racks at Forever21.
He never spoke to me again.
(Paul, if you’re reading this, I hope that moment didn’t traumatize you. You never came back to math class that year, so I hope in your day-to-day life when someone asks you what’s 635 divided by 17 you don’t break in a cold sweat, thinking about how you don’t know the answer because a girl named Jen made you drop out of College algebra)
When your heart has spun around and around a certain amount of times, you realize there are many different kinds of love. There’s your first love, your last love, your quick affair with love, and of course, the love you haven’t even said hello to yet. That’s the kind of love that motivates single people to do crazy things – like curl their eyelashes for a first date, or pay $68.98 a month for a Match.com subscription.
There’s even love that feels like a backpacking adventure through a foreign country. It doesn’t have a home base and it doesn’t make much sense, because it’s constantly bunging jumping up and down your day-to-day life. But sadly, and painfully, and often, you learn that that kind of love is not meant to last very long.
I’m spending Valentine’s Day alone this year and a part of me just wants to be honest with you and say that I just want the day to end, already, like a bad flu or college mid-term week.
But truthfully, Valentine’s Day is just like every other holiday. It’s extremely wonderful when you have somebody to spend it with and a shriveled up type of miserable when you’re all alone. Though even when you have somebody to spend it with, it can be a disaster. So maybe it’s about having the right person to spend it with.
I want to spend it with you.
I want to spend those 24-hours wrapping my arms around you, potential stranger, friend from college I haven’t seen in 6+ years, person I am Facebook friends with but can’t figure out how.
I want to spend it letting you know how much I love you, even if we’ve never met, or met and never saw each other again, or met and still mingle through the long lines of life together.
Because I don’t want our moment to pass. But also, because sometimes, I don’t know how, I don’t know when. My timing is always awful.
I cancel plans with friends because I get scared of myself. I hang up the phone before the other person has their chance to say goodbye, because I don’t like hearing that word. I get caught up in my own world, my to-do list, my next career mountain that I’m preparing to climb, alone, that I forget to remind the people who put up with my mood swings, my crazy ideas, and my daily social media posts, that I love them terribly so.
I love you is something we’re all so terrified to say. But I want to say those words to everyone who makes my heart bounce like Jell-O.
Some people act as if there’s only a limited supply of “I Love Yous” stacked inside of them. That once we use them all up, like tickets at an arcade, we won’t be able to claim any more prizes, we won’t have anymore of those phrases left inside of us.
But those people are wrong.
So whether you have someone to make googly eyes at this year (and I hope you have the right person and not just a person) or you have nobody (and in that case, I hope you have a pile of almost-expired candy from Halloween by your side), let’s use this holiday, to be together, to toss more love out there into the universe. To say it to the people we forget to say it to everyday, not always in a romantic, gushy, aww-inducing way. Just in a way that reminds them that they mean something to us.
Don’t be scared. Don’t be shy. Don’t be shocked.
Every time I log into Facebook, my heartaches when I read news about a person’s passing, whether or not I knew them, someone did, and they meant something to someone else. I get reminded, again, how short life is. Or how long and wasted it can be. I never want to miss an opportunity to tell someone how much they matter to me. And yet, every single day, I do.
Dear Valentine’s Day, you kind of suck. But I love you for giving me a reminder, an excuse, a forceful wake up call to say I Love You to the people in my life.
Love is nauseating. I’m getting Acid Reflux just writing about this. It’s messy. It’s 50 shades of beautiful and 100 shades of ugly. It’s promising. It’s heartbreaking. It’s almost as necessary as a calculator when doing long division (you, hear that, Paul? I’m going to send you a really good calculator).
Anyway, I love you. You don’t have to say it back.
Love shouldn’t be about wondering if the other person will stare back into your tear-stained eyes and repeat those words back to you or about wondering what will happen to your fragile heart if they don’t say anything back.
It’s about saying it before the moment passes, and it will. It always does.
Ps. want a fast way to tell people you love them? Email them a love letter + make them a video + leave them a voicemail + ask them to meet for coffee and say it out loud to them as you swirl the milk around in your sizzling hot cappuccino. Let me know how it goes.
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