The Times Someone Described My Love for My Partner Better Than I Could
“On the day that I forget you / I hope my heart explodes” — from Twin Human Highway Flares by the Mountain Goats
I’ve agonized over words to say to a person I’ve already said everything to. On a wedding stage in South Florida, I told Jordan I was going to try my best to love and cry with her, I would try to stand next to her even when it sucked, because we had love for each other, and love is part of a good life, and we thought we could be a part of the other finding a good life.
Since then, I’ve left her love notes and sent her texts, trying to convey this love inside me. I want her to understand that it’s enormous and weighty and could tear down a building but also it’s small and quiet and I want to pick up its delicacy and put it in my palm and put my face close to it, holding my breath so I don’t blow it away. The notes are all like that explanation I just gave: way too long, babbling and often more grandiose than I actually feel. I’ve scrapped forests of notes.
In my head I know I’ll never write a perfect love letter. But I at least want to write one that’s accurate, sufficient. I feel inadequate.
However, there have been a few times when I’ve found “it”: that perfect description of how I’m feeling about her in that moment. I found “it” while listening to songs, or reading poetry or literature. The writer says something and it just punches me in the stomach and I know this is what I’ve been trying to say this whole time while I’ve been floundering around with my pencil and paper. But it’s always been something said by someone else, to someone else. Is it genuine if I didn’t come up with it myself? I couldn’t answer that question when I asked it, but I was desperate for a way to express myself. So, I started experimenting.
The first time I used someone else’s words to tell Jordan what I was feeling was back when were dating. The note left by her front door said,
“The Earth looks better from the star that’s right above from where you are.”
It’s a line from Holland 1945 by Neutral Milk Hotel and it was a little on the nose, but our love was new, so that’s truly how I felt.
Still, it felt like a cop out. I didn’t come up with some beautiful words out of the overflow of my love. I just copied someone else. To make it worse, I didn’t even tell her I didn’t write it. I just acted like I was a wordsmith. I felt like someone who gave their significant other a poem that they ripped off Poetry.com. But it was how I felt! Was I doomed to never express my feelings because I couldn’t come up with the words myself?
There’s an important thing you should know about Jordan that I didn’t when we started dating: while she wholeheartedly supports me and engages with my writing, she really doesn’t care about my abilities as a writer when it comes to the letters I leave for her to find when she wakes up. She told me this when she stumbled across Neutral Milk Hotel and finally gave Holland 1945 a listen. She doesn’t need something she can flash her friends to brag about how deep and impactful our love is. Really, she just wants to love me and be loved by me. She wants to wake up and realize that while she was sleeping, I was marveling over this little jewel of love we found together. It’s meaningful to be captured by a sentence because it hits a bell in my heart.
You know what it feels like? When I see graphic renditions of how gravity distorts space and time, that’s what it feels like. Or when I was young and quarters weighed down my pockets and I felt wealthy. This unbelievably valuable thing is now within me in some pseudo-tangible way.
When I finally got this idea engrained into my feeble brain, I decided to embrace what was giving me this feeling. I would cut out these words and graft it into my own heart, and begin telling her how I feel, even if it’s from the mouth of someone else. Although, now, I make sure she knows I didn’t write those lines.
These are the words that I’ve used to tell my partner how I feel about being in love with her. Of course, they aren’t perfect. Nothing will ever be. But they help me communicate with this woman I’m sharing my life with.
What I love about these writings is that they do something I could never do: they use simple words to convey complex emotions. They aren’t locked into this pure idea of love, which I don’t think really exists.
Mary Oliver meshed the glory of life with the sadness and joy and discomfort and satisfaction that make up some relationships. I read this poem to Jordan on our wedding day, pledging myself to her imagination.
“Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.” — from Wild Geese by Mary Oliver
Gary Soto portrayed the excitement of love as it exists simultaneously with cold and melancholy — the long, long car rides when conversation comes and goes. When we laugh maniacally and talk about heavy things.
“I peeled my orange
That was so bright against
The gray of December
That, from some distance,
Someone might have thought
I was making a fire in my hands.” — from Oranges by Gary Soto
Ted Kooser acknowledged the inherent practicality of love which makes it transcendent. Like how, when I’m alone with Jordan in a quiet place, I experience the sweetness of seclusion without the pain of loneliness.
“but he is all lightness now,
and tethered only gently to this world” — from Bank Fishing for Blue Gills by Ted Kooser
My methods are imperfect, and so is my love, and so are these people I’ve quoted. But somehow, all together, we inch closer towards goodness.