He had to tell me to my face. We were so young, it was so early, so scary. We must have looked so small to passerby. After the struggle of our lives thus far to be together, he looked at me with very serious, sincere eyes and told me that he loved me. So many things happened inside my body in that moment that I could never re-tell it, even if I had gone home and documented it right then.
We were sitting on his couch kissing. I said it first, "I love you." He told me not to say it if I didn't mean it. I didn't. But I lied and told him I did. He was very happy and from that day on for the time it lasted, he said "I love you, babe" like he was the happiest guy alive.
On the phone. We weren't even dating yet, just friends. I was crying and relaying a conflict I was having. He had this inspired we-can-get-through-this speech. When I thanked him and began cheering up, he told me he loved me. I said it back, not even knowing everything it would mean. And we began dating.
Again, on the phone. I just explained something to him he previously did not understand and never would again even though he acted like the sky had opened up. He gave me a seal of approval by telling me he loved me. It was the second happiest I ever was to hear those words.
It was a perfect summer night and we were lying in bed, naked. He was on top of me, I thought he might be slipping into sleep as I ran my nails over his back. Instead, his face still buried in my neck, he said, "I've been thinking and I want to tell you that I love you." There was something so very special and distinctive about the intimacy we shared while maintaining an odd sense of responsibility. I will always remember the ways that man showed me and told me he loved me. And still does.
I'm reading, for the first time: