Monday, October 12, 2009

I Love You (No Other Title Would Do)

Once upon a time in a gravel parking lot a mechanic showed me to my car. Here you go, he said, and let me know if that engine light goes back on. It was 6pm and dark. He had the bowlegged walk of a man with terrible knees, and as he handed me the keys I got into my car and said thanks, and good night, and I love you.

The air seemed to warp around us, a quick snap like the tip of a bullwhip, my misplaced I love you not just an audible phenomenon but something seen, a wave, a blip, and we paused there he and I, me sitting in my car, him teetering there on his terrible knees in the gravel. And then he turned, pivoted really which I imagine must have hurt. So I started my car and drove away slowly, backed away really but in Drive going forward.

Bye, I love you. I love you, good night. 'Mkay, I love you. I am an automatic I love you-er, saying it countless times during the day to my parents, to Bryan; I practically speak in I love you's to Zoey. (If I said I love you? in a certain tone she would totally know that what I was asking is if she wanted a pb&j.) It has become a salutation, an acknowledgment, a sign off, a disfluency in the pattern of my speech, like um or uh, well, yeah. Because I do: love them when I see them, when I leave, love them in between bites of a sandwich.

Then the other day as I was talking to my friend Erin I said it again. Talk to you later, bye, I love you. Only she is not my mom or my dad, not Bryan, not Zoey, and so we both giggled and I said sorry and we hung up.

Which got me thinking: Why did I giggle? Apologize? I have known her forever, she is a good friend and here's the thing--I do love her. Why does it feel so funny to say that?

I have another friend, let's call her Rosalie because that is her name. And I hope she doesn't mind me outing her but she is an I love you-er of friends. Good seeing you, she says, I love you, the differences in our upbringings forever apparent in the way we hug each other good bye. (I am an uptight WASP, no matter the fact that my parents moved to San Francisco in 1971.) And so the words stand out to me when said by a friend, hangs there in space, kind of like when you get one of those floaters in your eye? And it's there all fuzzy like a thread somewhere in your periphery, maybe you keep darting your eye over to look at it but then it's gone. I love you. Only I want to see it because I know it's there, something refractive in my eye's vitreous humor. (No giggling.) I love you. I think I'm going to start saying it to my friends. Or at the very least start with baby steps by writing it first. I love you. Erin, Rosalie. Amber, Ana, Chree. You are all fabulous friends and awesome women. Oh god, did I forget anyone? Because what could be wrong with saying I love you? As many types of love as there are hellos and goodbyes. I love you, really, I do. All of you. Except maybe not the mechanic, that was an accident. Although I am sure he is a fine man, keeps his plants watered and remembers his grandchildren's birthdays, I do not love him. (Yet.)


melissa said...

I love you. Cuz I love my new scarf that you sent me.

Cindy said...

My good friends and I say, "Love you" before we hang up the phone.

My husband is incapable of hanging up without saying, "ByeIloveyou." Even if we've already said goodbye but then remembered something else to say and then have to say goodbye again. He says it EVERY TIME. Sometimes that's too much pressure. haha


Ana said...

And I love you my friend.
And I will say it every time we hang up.


"Cloudy" on Wednesday afternoon?


Jordan said...

I am really guarded with my "I love yous" and maybe it's time that I cut that shit out. Anyway, just popping in to say that I still read (and love!) your blog!

Anonymous said...

If you mean it, say it! We all need all the "I love Yous" we can get.

My favorite is the I Love You and kiss goodbye that my husband and I share each morning as he is leaving. It means so much to me.

my favorite and my best said...

growing up i never heard it from the old man- i still don't. it is a term that unfortunately everytimee i hear it makes me feel it is disingenuous. i say it all the time to my daughter. but when it is said to me i rarely believe it.

Cathi said...

I say it all the time to my girlfriends...and my beau and my kids! It's an awesome salutation!

amber {daisy chain} said...

Well I love you, too!
This post rings so, so true with me. I'm pretty guarded with my love-you's and when friends say it to me I'm always taken off guard, but totally touched. xo

3StinkyBoysAndMe said...

I've been saying 'I love you' to my good friends ever since I read the book Tuesdays with Morrie. It's such a MUST READ for every one. Since then, I awkwardly started saying it to my friends and after an awkward pause they would say it too. I'm so used the phrase slipping out, I've said it to the occasional mechanic and grocery clerk too. : )

Oh Brother! said...

Too damn funny because I swear I've done that too! Must be genetic (or is it a nurture thing, in more ways than one?)

Anyway, on a few occasions; I've hung up the phone and wondered: "Crap, did I just tell my agent that I loved him?"

(I reserve that for when he gets me another feature film!)



pillow mint said...

it's so strange to think that i can say i love you to my friends easier than to my own parents. It just wasn't said all that often. i think it was reserved for some special occasion - like using the guest soap.

i say it to my boys all the time; I even say i love you *so* much! right after i say i love you; in case they missed it.
i'm going to try and say it more to my parents, even when it gets stuck in my throat.
One time I was on the phone with my ex-husband and called him "honey". It just slipped out.

Rosalie said...

Oooh... Good post. Now that you are on board with the 'I Love You', get ready for the wet kisses.
Xo (literally)

Erin said...

I love you, too, Susannah! It was so funny that we both giggled when you accidentally said it on the phone. I have come SO close to saying that with random customer service people, so when you said it to me (and I knew you did it accidentally), my first thought was, ohh, lucky it was me on the other end of the phone instead of some business contact or something. You're right, though. We should say it all the time, because it's true! xo

Chree said...

I love you too Susannah!!!!

Erin said...

P.S. As much as I DO love you, I am NOT running naked hand-in-hand into the ocean with you at sunset. Not gonna happen. :)

krista said...

i grew up full of iloveyou and kisses and hugs. finn gets it in abundance. bryan and i have a code now, though. we say 'guess what' and if the other person says 'what?' then they lose. bryan thinks he's winning but i totally don't believe him. i wonder sometimes if finn will grow up thinking 'guess what' means a whole lot more than it does.

Cindi said...

I say I love you to my good friends that I do love. I started after one of them died. I had never told her that I loved her and I did. I will never let that happen again.

ZDub said...

I took a to go order today at work. When I was hanging up the phone, I told the man on the other end to "Be careful, hon..." which is what I say to my husband.