9.0 Editor's Pick
January 4, 2020

What Love Is.


Love is, we are dancing slowly, hanging off each other, a little drunk, in a dusty dive bar, by ourselves.

It is the last song played, played by a tiny, old man who has pulled this very song out of his magic hat a thousand times over, but never, ever, has he played it quite this way, just for us, an old man whose job it is to wink and smile and stroke those time-worn piano keys, like a lover gently caressing limbs, an old man with no place to be, except to play this slow dancing music, tonight, just for you and me.

Love is I am up in the fullness of your belly, and you are inside the curve of my spine, and we are in each other’s heads, we are the blood-soaked beating of each other’s hearts, we are seared upon each other’s lips, swimming in each other’s eyes, and we finish each other’s sentences in contradictory ways on purpose because it’s funny and makes us laugh out loud.

Love is we are both sweating bullets, we are swearing raging rivers at the ball, at our rackets, at the net, and I am angry because you are so good at sports, and you are huffy too, because that’s how you get when I nonchalantly laugh and say “it’s only a game,” before I catch you out of position and slam the ball hard right down the line. You give me a look when I over-celebrate, but I just smile and turn because I know you’ll get over it. Eventually.

Love is we are giggling and we can’t stop and it is to the point of being completely inappropriate and we are in Church of all places but what’s happening is the old lady in the purple felt hat sitting next to us has nodded off and her nose is whistling in time and tune with the solemn, spoken words, and when the congregation exhales their deepest “Amen!” at the end, she somehow punctuates the air with her loudest nose whistle yet as though, even in her sleep, she feels both blessed and saved, and that is our undoing, we collapse in silent, mirthful tears, and we decide to leave before we are publicly scolded, our full laughter breaking from the crest like delighted children busting out of school for the summer, finally free.

Love is we are floating on big black tubes, our toes are touching and the lake is like glass until a speed boat flies by and completely ruins our tranquility, creating waves of chaos and a straight-up struggle for survival before we settle back into our pool of peace, relieved. Our love is alarming and calm. Our love is connected and disrupted and connected again. Our love isn’t perfect because we are people and that is how people love works.

Love is I am in your arms and on my knees and I am gripping your shoulders, your sinewy thighs, running my hands across your chest but first, I am swinging my hair and crawling toward you like a stripper on stage, beckoning, calling to you with my open mouth and heavily painted eyes. This is in your head of course, and you are thinking about me while stroking your tie, adjusting it, looking in the mirror, you are thinking about me in a very naughty way right before your morning meeting, and you have to shake your dirty thoughts loose before you exit your hotel room, before you limp down to the conference center, aroused, which isn’t ideal for serious business, but at least your blood is pumping and you’re awake.

Love is you are making the eggs and you are adding garlic salt and pepper flakes and hot sauce and way too much cheese, and you are mixing ketchup and mayonnaise together to make what you like to call your “pink nectar” sauce and you are ruining breakfast while also creating a sticky mess in our kitchen, and I am watching you like a cat while quietly sipping my coffee, I am squinting, trying not to judge your weirdness.

Love is we are cleaning out the clothes closets together and you are keeping too many things and I am rolling my eyes at you but you will not part with that jacket or that shirt because they are meaningful to you, and I am annoyed by this, but also soft about it because you are sentimental, and that’s never a bad thing and it’s just the way you are, and so I stop being annoyed and I remember that my love for you started with liking how you are.

Love is we are arguing about a movie, a movie, for Pete’s sake, and we are both vehemently defending our positions with articulate, thoughtful convictions, we are barking and denying and raising our eyebrows and trying to convince each other, and it is making our blood boil in a good way because different opinions that do not affect our love fuel what we will do to each other later on, in our bed, when we make each other shut up for a little while.

Love is you are whispering and moving your eyebrows trying to get me to conspire with you in a “payback” joke intended for your brother, one that came to you in a dream, the perfect practical joke because you owe him, you must get even, this is retaliatory, and you need my help to complete the mission, and I am in, I am so in because it’s a genius plan and part of my job as your lover is to support your conniving efforts at fun-loving revenge.

Love is I am making you a card completely from scratch, as in I even made the paper because I am committed to the process, I like doing things with my hands, I like getting messy, I like the wet pulp and the screens, I like creating, and I like writing what I feel especially when it comes to you and I hope you will keep it, my card, I hope you will keep it forever, and to be honest I hope it is dog-eared and folded soft in your hands when you are laid to rest many years from now, this is how much I want you to cherish it.

Because so often the love words find themselves in junk drawers and dark cabinets, so often they are discarded, they are tossed into trash bins like insignificant scraps, but our love is about knowing, it’s about understanding the colossal significance our words play inside the story of us.

Love is we are on board, we are willing to dive in, to take our chances, to risk our words on each other, risk our tender hearts, because when we are together we feel every emotion, we make each other feel every which way there is to feel about being alive, and that is the truest gift of love.


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Kimberly Valzania  |  Contribution: 140,745

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