I promise to love you:
at 6 am when you’re waking
to go to work, to school, or whatever
road life takes you on;
and when you didn’t sleep well,
your hair is a mess
and your eyes are sleepy.
at 8 am when we say goodbye
for the day and you’re rushing
out the door with a cup
of black coffee, after finishing
a morning cigarette
when your lips taste like
caffeine and nicotine.
at 3 pm when you’re exhausted
from the day and people have
worn you out and you feel like
sighing, crying, and falling asleep
and escaping in afternoon dreams.
I will kiss your forehead,
and wrap myself in your arms.
at 10 pm when you’re heading to bed,
even though you won’t sleep for hours
and you’ll flip through all the channels
tired of dismal newscasts and re-runs.
Especially when we become a human knot
wrapped up in sheets and kisses
at 3 am when loneliness and sadness
do not destroy you, but consume you
and when you weep without an explanation
I’ll kiss your lips, softly and
tell you you’re the absolute best.
When we talk about life
and why winter kills the flowers.
I will love you when you grow old,
I will love you even after that
I will love you if I’m no longer here
I will love you
I will love you
and I will love you.
But, do you recall the most famous reindeer of all?
8 Ways To Say I Love You
1. Spit it into her voicemail, a little slurred and sounding like the shot whiskey you downed for courage. Feel as ashamed as you do walking into work in last night’s clothes. Wake up cringing for days, waiting for her to mention it.
2. Sigh it into her mouth, wedged in between teeth and tongues. Don’t even let your lips move when you say it, ever so lightly, into the air. Maybe it was just an exhalation of ecstasy.
3. Buy her flowers. Buy her chocolate. Buy her a teddy bear, because that’s what every romantic comedy has taught you. Take her out to a nice restaurant where neither of you feel comfortable and spend the whole night clearing your throat and tugging at your tie. Feel like your actions are more suited to a proposal than the simple confession of something you’ve always known.
4. Whisper it into her hair in the middle of the night, after you’ve counted the space between her breaths and are certain she’s asleep. Shut your eyes quickly when she shifts toward you in askance. Maybe you were just sleep whispering.
5. Blurt it out in the middle of an impromptu dance party in the kitchen, as clumsy as your two left feet. When time seems to freeze, hastily tack on “in that shirt” or “when you make your award-winning meatballs” or, if you are feeling particularly brave, “when we do this.” Resume dancing and pretend you don’t feel her eyes on you the rest of the night.
6. Write her a letter in which the amount of circumnavigating and angst could rival Mr. Darcy’s. Debate where to leave it all day – on her pillow? In her coat pocket? Throw it away in frustration, conveniently leaving it face up in the trashcan, her name scrawled on the front in your sloppy handwriting. Let her wonder if you meant it.
7. Wait until something terrible has happened and you can’t not tell her anymore. Wait until she almost gets hit by a car crossing Wabash against the light and after you are done cursing at the shit-for-brains cab drivers in this city, realize you are actually just terrified of living without her. Tell her with your hands shaking.
8. Say it deliberately, your tongue a springboard for every syllable. Over coffee, brushing your teeth side-by-side, as you turn off the light to go to sleep – it doesn’t matter where. Do not adorn it with extra words like “I think” or “I might.” Do not sigh heavily as if admitting it were a burden instead of the most joyous thing you’ve ever done. Look her in the eyes and pray, heart thumping wildly, that she will turn to you and say, “I love you too.”"