As much as I’d like to say so, I can’t – and never have been able to – hate Valentine’s Day. I never quite got the vibe as a single teenager (or single young adult, if you are counting 18-23 as being anything else), in particular seeing websites and magazines continuously saying it was the perfect day to pull, but never being able to pull myself.
I’ve never managed to pull. I don’t even know how to attempt it.
Since I was a very young person, though, I’ve been fond of the phrase “I love you”. It’s very simple, three syllables, but it carries so much weight. I like to use it as much as I can, and even when I was five, I wrote a song based on what I’d heard on Top of the Pops:
Ooh, I love you, baby“singin’ true”, 1990
But only when you’re singin’ true (ooh-ooh-ooh)
Is just for me and you…
As a single teenager, I said it a lot as well. Usually choked out through a veil of tears in paroxysms of grief, but I said it. At one point I stood at the edge of an echoey valley and shouted it at maximum volume with the idea that the girl I was saying it to would hear somehow.
Sometimes, with the pretence that I was writing artful poetry an an excuse, I’d write it. I was a fairly angsty poet, for sure, but I very much liked to make a declaration of love:
You are agony,“The Pleasure of Agony” (1999)
Yet the agony you bring I have to endure.
If I’ve decided that I love you
Then I have to face the consequences.
My first girlfriend didn’t like to say it. She was of the opinion that it was “a bit overdone”, whereas I was always fond of saying it to her. If American sitcoms are to be believed, some couples don’t say it at all, and I made a point of doing so. And in my second, and third, relationships, it was always something I’d say – first thing in the morning, and last thing at night.
When I was single, I used to say it every Valentine’s anyway. Me being me, I would have had a crush on at least one person on every occasion, and they’d be who I said it to. Not out loud, of course, but by myself in a corner somewhere. I felt it a little cathartic to say “I love you”, even if they’d never know or care.
Having someone to tell you love them makes it all somewhat different.
Sometimes I feel like I can’t tell my fiancée I love them enough. I say it a lot – sometimes it’s a simple text; sometimes it’s every other sentence – but I can’t get enough of saying it. I feel love for them, I do love them, but I can’t ever feel like I say it enough. I could say it ∞ times, but it still wouldn’t quite express how much I want to say it.
So today I kept a tally.
Today, I have told them that I love them eighteen times, and every time I meant it. By the end of the day, it will probably reach about twenty or twenty-five (I’ll update this post when I reach a final total!). But I’ll keep saying it. I like saying it. I can’t tell them enough. And, of course, I like to hear it back.
[UPDATE: 27! More than I had predicted, helped a lot by us ending up batting the word “love” back and forth just before bed.]
And, gentle reader, I love you too.