A Simple Declaration of Love
Please let me stay the night, I think to myself, because that just isn’t something a girl can say out loud. Especially not to an entity this powerful.
I’m just really hoping you’ll feel it in me, see it in my face: I don’t want to leave. I want to stay cuddled up next to you—not just all night long, but forever. I want to wake up with you every day and go to sleep with you every night.
I want us to grow old together. Yes, you’re already quite older than me, but isn’t that part of the appeal? Don’t you fancy me because when we first met I was young, so young, with my entire life ahead of me? I want us to grow older together.
Because admit it: this isn’t a one-way street. I met you when I was still a child. I mean, I was still going through puberty for God’s sake. I was gangly and awkward. I had a mouth full of metal and the frizziest hair imaginable. I wore hideous sweatshirts from Hot Topic that I thought were edgy and rebellious and I self-consciously wrapped my arms around my baby fat, never considering that this would actually draw more attention to it. When we met, I still had a lot of growing up to do, but the one thing I was already 100% sure of? You.
It was love at first sight. Yes, I was too young to know what bra size to wear or how to properly apply eyeliner, but I knew I was meant to be with you. I was enamored by you, stunned to silence by you. I was too young to fully drink you in, to take you on, to match you or live up to you, but I was so completely, irrevocably, painfully in love with you.
But I’m straying here: the point is, you felt it, too. You had to. The way you barely touched your fingertips to mine, knowing I was too young to be able to handle anything more. You were patient with me; you knew I’d find you again when I was older, when I was ready. You were willing to wait. I was too young to even know. But you knew; in retrospect, I know you knew.
So years later I’ve come back to you. I won’t lie and say I saved myself for you: no one is as innocent as they make themselves out to be. I’ve had my fair share of dalliances. Soft-spoken and mellow, with tortoise-shell glasses and a weakness for a good glass of wine and an even better novel. A Southern drawl and a skosh of racism with burly arms, enveloping me with skin moist from humidity. A firm allegiance to the good ol’ US of A and a leathery, California tan with an even firmer allegiance to the beach. All beautiful in their own way, but nothing quite like you. Don’t think I ever forgot you.
When I finally returned to you, I was a little scared. I wondered if things had changed; was it just the delusional lust of an adolescent girl, impressed by your fast-talking confidence and gusto and hindered by her own self-consciousness and criticism? Had I grown, not bigger than you, because no one can ever be bigger than you, but away from you? Had you moved on, forgotten me entirely? Maybe I had only stayed in love with the idea of you for all of these years. Maybe reality just wouldn’t live up. But (here we exhale a sigh of great relief), I was wrong.
Do you remember our first night reconnected? It was as if I never left you, and yet the passion you had graciously withheld from me when I was too young to know what to do with it was, this time, unable to be contained. It shot back and forth between us, neither of us knowing where it ended and where it began. I flew into your arms without thinking, without considering that you might not catch me, but you did.
We laid down together side by side and slept deeply, then we woke up early and spent the entire day together, just me and you. In that first day, no one else existed. We got unnecessarily expensive coffees and went to that B restaurant we both love and sat there for hours after we’d eaten, reading newspapers and magazines and just being. It all sounds so mundane but the entire experience was on fire, reeling with passion, threatening to tear us apart in the best way possible.
After that first night and subsequent day, we fell into a routine. That sounds bad, but it shouldn’t. It was glorious. Weekends at Silver Moon Bakery and loitering our way through museums; running through spontaneous rainstorms with no umbrella, laughing and spinning round and round like children; weekday commutes on the C train, staring into the armpit of the guy next to us, willing ourselves not to inhale; dinner scooped out of the hot containers at Lifethyme Market and hurried home before turned cold, eaten in silence in front of my laptop watching Netflix. This isn’t a relationship—this is a life together.
I’ll admit, I’ve been sneaky about things. Although I knew this had an expiration date, I tiptoed around the fact, ignoring it, shoving it into the deepest caverns of my mind. Lying to myself, believing that if I paid the expiration date no mind, it would never come. But expiration dates always come.
I woke up this morning, seeing in your body language that for now, this is the end. You know it, I know it, yet I still desperately plead for you to let me stay the night. Just one more night with you, but I know I can’t have that.
I run my fingers along your side; you heavily turn over and face the wall. I timidly whisper a question, Do you maybe want to go to Silver Moon Bakery one last time? You gruffly respond that they don’t open until 8; we won’t have time.
Any other girl might slink away, give up, but not me. Maybe it’s complete delusion, but I know this isn’t the end. This isn’t goodbye, this is see you later.
Let me stop right there, because I know what the reader is thinking—reader is making eyes at his friend, twirling his index finger in a circle right next to his ear, miming that I’m insane. He’s seen girls like me before: girls who desperately cling on to the ghost of a relationship, refusing to release it from their death grip, refusing to accept what’s already transpired on the other end. Refusing to let it be reality. But I assure you, this is different. Why else would I feel it like this in my gut? Why else would I look at you, with your stoic, stubborn, cold indifference to me this morning and still know that we are meant to be? Why else would I be looking you straight in the eye, as I’m doing right now, and smiling, mouthing that I love you, unashamed to admit it and undeterred by the fact that you won’t take me in your arms like you’ve done every day leading up to today?
You love me, damn it. Whether you want to admit it or not, whether it’s convenient or not, you love me, and there is nothing you can do to change that. Maybe I won’t be spending the night tonight, or the next night, or even the night after that, but rest assured: this is not our last moment together. There will be a night here and there, a rekindling much like our last, until finally we settle back into our routine and are swallowed up by nights together until the only thing that stops us is life itself. And even then, we’ll always be together. Because you love me, and I you.
Don’t be afraid to say it aloud: You love me! Shout it from the rooftops! Sing it into a microphone! Write it on every surface of your body! You love me!
From the moment we laid eyes on each other when I was still painting my nails black and sweeping a mound of hair over what I worried to be a large forehead, it’s been written in the stars for us. We’re meant to be together, and nothing is going to change that.
So for now, my love, my destiny, I have to leave. I say that with a heavy heart, but this isn’t a goodbye. I’d say it’s a see you later, but that’s a little too conventional, a little too cliché, and that is something we have never been.
I’d also say I love you, but that’s something you’ve always known.
(NOTE: The above is a love letter written by a young woman to the city of New York).