Part One: The Language of Love
By the end of the semester I had amassed a sizable lead in our little ‘points’ game. After fifteen weeks of midnight bowling, card games, and random points being awarded for overall cleverness, it was very clear that I would be the one who would be able to make a wish by the end. I knew what I wanted, and I knew what my wish was. So one very cold December evening after we had had dinner together, I took her to one of my favorite, secret spots in my neighborhood. I had found it while wandering around the shopping mall by my high school. In the back of the mall’s parking lot was a little park that ran along the river. There was an old wooden dock hidden behind some weeping willows, completely secluded and it went right out and over the water. I used to go here alone and just listen to the cars rushing by on the highway in the distance, watching the current, looking out for disturbances in the water from the fish. It was night time, our favorite time, our private time, and I took her to this spot I had never shared with anyone before. There was a bright full moon and I could clearly see the frost in our breaths. Her bright red cheeks. How adorably breathtaking she looked with her flush face and big, beautiful eyes looking up at me and her long black hair pressed against her head by these big puffy white earmuffs. I told her how much I’d enjoyed getting to know her this semester. I told her how important she had become to me. And I told her that my greatest desire and wish, was that we could try to become more than friends, and if she would do me the immense honor of going out with me.
When she started crying my heart sank in my chest and my greatest fear was that I had grossly misread these past few months and had just put her in the most awkward and uncomfortable position of telling someone that they were completely wrong about them. But then she hugged me. And held me tight. And told me she was crying because she was happy and overwhelmed, and that this was what she wanted too. I put my finger under her chin and lifted her delicate face up to me. She was so happy and so embarrassed she couldn’t meet my gaze. The moonlight reflected off the tears that ran down her cheek. I pressed my lips to each one, moving up, until I was kissing right by her eye. I kissed her tears away, and promised her that as long as I was there for her and for as long as she would have me, I would never let a single tear fall to the ground.
Our first date would be the week after. As first dates go, it was rather simple and understated. This was a girl who I had become best friends with over the past months but looking at her now as the open and honest object of my affection, she was like a brand new, brighter, more beautiful light in my life. Every hope and desire I had secretly held onto was now out in the open, and I was excited to go where my heart had been wanting to go for so long. I picked her up at her house with a single long stemmed rose hidden behind my back. Took her to a casual restaurant, like we’d done so many times before, but now I was giddy and jumping and could not stop holding onto her hand. After we left the restaurant I took a photo of us with my phone and sent it to her with the caption ‘me with the girl of my dreams’. She blushed when she saw it on her phone. I would soon become addicted to finding new and imaginative ways to make her blush. It was the cutest thing in the world to me.
Very soon after I started calling her ‘dream girl’, and then ‘beautiful girl’, until finally I settled on ‘Beautiful’. It was a journey in and of itself. She would always blush and deny and call me crazy but I would never stop telling her that she was the most beautiful girl I had ever laid eyes upon. This was not some cheesy name reserved for just making people unfortunate enough to be around us uncomfortably awkward. My parents have nicknames for each other. My mother is ‘butterscotch’ and my father is ‘honey fudge’. They like to write the names on cards for anniversaries, birthdays, and Christmas but I have never actually seen my parents address each other as such. They like to bring it out to up the cheesiness of an occasion because our discomfort is their entertainment. I genuinely, honestly, and frequently called her ‘Beautiful’. In fact after we started dating I probably called her that more than her actual name. Everyone in the world knew her as her real name. But only I called her ‘Beautiful’. I was her ‘Baby’. She somehow found something cute and childlike and silly in this hulking, large, mass of a serious-faced man. I don’t know if she called me that because I acted like a child sometimes (don’t take me to a Lego store unless you plan on buying me something or I will get very cranky) or because there was a deep desire in her to care for me. I never cared because I was happy to be her Baby. It was easy for me to let go of my guard and be that excitable giddy child I used to be again, and I would never tire of how she would dote and care for me. Just as I was happy to have this chance to see her as my own beautiful girl, she was happy to have this private, whimsical, sometimes ridiculous side of myself.
After every date, dropping her off at her home, the tight hug and the lingering kiss goodbye, she would ask me to text her as soon as I got home to let her know I arrived safely. I found things like that simply rolled off my tongue with little effort. I would compose these long, elegant, beautiful passages. I would share with her my most favorite memories from that night, and how I would protect them and engrain them into my mind and in my heart. I would recall how beautiful she looked, how she always made my heart skip a beat, and how happy I was that we were together. Whether I was at home, on the bus from the garage to campus, or waiting in between classes, my thoughts and my words were always of Beautiful. Events that took place during the day, observations that suddenly came to light, every high and every low moment, were all I wanted to share with and only her. You know the reality is I am a very quiet, very reserved person. Back then and for the longest time, I used to just bottle everything, every thought, every story, up inside of me and I would just compress it until it had the density of a dying star and tuck it away into the vast recesses of my mind. But when I was with Beautiful it was as if the flood gates had burst. It was through her that I had found my voice, and never did my language fall so singularly into focus as it did in trying to capture my feelings for her.
I spoke to her in ways and of things I had never spoken to with anyone else in my life. My language was changed because of her. I could write poetry about her hands. Epic ballads about the infinity in her eyes. I could speak of things like ‘love’, ‘passion’, ‘warmth’, ‘forever’, ‘companionship’, and ‘soulmates’ like I was describing the clothes on my back.
For as much as Beautiful inspired this creative spark in me, I had equal opportunities to practice too. Our official anniversary was January 23rd. (1/23 had a special meaning to us because we used to always try to catch the clock whenever it was 1:23 or 2:34 or any sort of sequence like that so we could make a wish. We would sometimes text each other whenever we saw the time at the right moment so we could both wish. It would be great to have our anniversary be an occasion for a wish too.) But on February 23rd, a month after we started dating, she would find a handwritten love letter, folded carefully into the shape of an origami heart, sprayed gently with my cologne, hidden in her bag. And this would soon become a monthly tradition between the two of us. Every 23rd for as long as we were together, without fail, I would find an opportunity to slip a handwritten love letter somewhere for her to discover. I loved writing those, and she loved reading them, or even sometimes having me read them aloud to her. Only a few people ever knew of this private tradition of ours. We weren’t very public or explicit with our romance. The few who did know would catch me writing sometimes and wonder how I could still find enough to fill both sides of a regular sheet of paper month after month after month. I told them the same thing I always told Beautiful. I never had to worry about the well running dry because for as much as I kept drawing out of it, she kept filling it up. I never so much as even saw or brushed against the bottom. Every month was a new revelation. A deeper and more intense understanding of the complex beauty of love. She had filled my heart, my mind, and my mouth with words I had never put together before. As the time went on, and my vocabulary got richer, I became better at capturing the infinite expanse of the universe that she had managed to fit within a single kiss. The only reason why I could ever even attempt to write and do our love justice now, was because I had had months of practice with her.
The way you speak and write to someone you truly love will always be different from anyone else. When you enter into that special, sacred, heartfelt bond with someone, you learn a completely different language. Sometimes it is a language of affirmation. You quickly come to realize that the old standby phrases and compliments that worked for other people don’t hold as much with someone who knows your heart. It’s okay because you don’t praise them the same way because the good you see in them is different from the good anyone else sees. Beautiful knew I didn’t find her beautiful because I liked her eyes or her lips or her hair or her body. I found her to be the most beautiful woman in the world because her eyes showed me the future of all my hopes and dreams. Her lips were messengers of love and happiness and promise wrapped in smooth and luscious silk that sent shivers up and down as she kissed my neck and lit my cheeks on fire and sent jolts of electricity sparking on my mouth. Her hair smelled sweet and tickled the space between my fingers as I ran my hand through it. Her body was an entire world that needed to be explored and treasured, and I was the moon, hopelessly and happily caught in its orbit. Sometimes it is a language of promise. In those same letters that I wrote dedications to our love, I also wrote of all the things of forever that I wanted to give her and share with her. Her love taught me the language of humility and compromise. I could never be too proud or too stubborn to tell her how she made me a better person, or how I was wrong, or how I needed to let some things go. She taught me to speak with gentleness and firmness. Love, our love, inspired me to write.
Word count so far: 30837