Alex Hanks/The Paisano
It’s easy to ruin a good thing. All it takes is three words in a moment of passion or as we hold each other in the stillness of the night. When you realize you’ve finally found a soul worth knowing. The feeling that you were born to meet this person.
“I love you.”
Yeah, this is about that. Sorry in advance.
From the moment we met, I knew I wouldn’t love you. I knew you couldn’t love me. Not really, at least. A Tinder date at a bookstore, then a coffee shop before we went our separate ways. We were both looking for the same thing, but we weren’t the right people to give that to each other. So we compromised and pretended to fall in love. We went out on dates, met each other’s friends, posted each other on social media. For all the pretending we did, it really did seem like we had something special for a while. But we were just kids. Hell, we’re still just kids, and I have no right to speak on this like I know anything about it at all. But I still want to talk about it. Sorry in advance.
I knew we could never last, but I told you I loved you anyway. Sorry about that. I don’t think I’d have said that if I really knew what those words meant. I might not have said it if it were true. What do those three words mean anyway? Are they a lie we tell each other to keep away the harsh reality of human relationships? I wonder if you can ever really know a person. No matter how well you think you know someone, how many secrets they’ve told you, how many inconsequential details you know about their life, personality, fears, desires, or dreams – you can never really know someone. There will always be a wall between your hearts; what we know as our egos. This is tenfold for men and women. The desire to be with someone, to know and love and have them, ironically enough, only separates us even further. Is it wrong to fall in love with someone? Is it even possible?
I have three cats at home: Sushi, Lucy and Onion. We talk, but I don’t understand anything they say beyond a general sense of whether they’re happy or angry or hungry. I like to think they have some vague understanding of what I say too. I think Sushi knows I’m apologizing when I’m extra nice to him after accidentally stepping on his tail. I’m sure Onion knows there’s no place I’d rather be when we’re lying under the sun in wordless peace together. Does Lucy know I love her when I rest my forehead against hers and whisper it as many times as I can with a single breath? I think so. But we can’t really talk. We can’t ever have a conversation. When Sushi disappears for days at a time and walks back into the house like he never left, I can’t ask him where he’s been or what he’s been doing. When Lucy’s in a particularly bad mood, I can’t ask her what happened. All I can do is be with them. All I can do is love them. And though their communication is limited and understanding on both sides of our relationship is nebulous at best, I still love them. I believe they love me back. Is it a lie I tell myself to cope with the fact that three wild animals use me for food, shelter and warmth? If they could talk, would they tell me to shut up with all the “I love you” crap and just open the damn wet food? No, they wouldn’t. Because I love my cats and they love me. What we have is beyond the logos of human relationships. Pure and simple, our relationship relies on nothing but the gross, gooey feelings of two beings who enjoy one another’s presence. Love does exist.
But why say “I love you?” Sure, love may exist between simpler minds that don’t understand the complexity of human emotion, but what about us? How can I look into another person’s eyes, knowing I can never really know them and have the gall to spout those three pathetic words as if they could ever be true? Will I be talking out of my ass for as long as I pretend pure, unadulterated love is anything more than a comfortable illusion hiding a sad, lonely truth? There will always be walls between our hearts, but though it may seem unimaginable to some, love between humans is still possible. I brought up my cats, but I also love my parents. I love my friends, my coworkers, the bugs that crawl on me when I go to the park. They don’t all love me, but there is love in my heart. As long as you have that much, nothing can touch you. There’s no greater force in this world than love, and once you find someone to share that with, you’ll wonder why you ever bothered with all this philosophical crap in the first place.