Wednesday, March 11, 2009

"I Lexington-Ohio-Vermont-Edward You"

Tonight's dinner was spent with two old roommates. We hadn't all been together in quite some time and so there was a lot to catch up on. We discussed everything from family to friends, work to play, and old boyfriends to new boyfriends. Of course, with three twenty-something girls, boys were on the top of the list and we all had something to share. Beth's was by far the sweetest and one comment in particular was too good to pass up.

Beth and her new beau are pretty committed, but Beth was nervous when he began to express the urge to say the ever ominous "L-word." So, in his sweet, accommodating way, he replied, "Fine. I Lexington-Ohio-Vermont-Edward you." Emily and I were all giggles when Beth announced this to us, but it got me thinking on a subject I have addressed before and think about often.

What exactly is so very ominous about the "L-word" to human beings? Even those not in blossoming, new relationships seem to have a hard time saying "I love you," whether it be to family or friends. As humans, it is quite natural to want to be loved and to want to love others, yet when it comes to verbally expressing it, we seem to falter.

For instance, my sister, Sarah Ann, rarely says "I love you." In fact, we can be talking on the phone and when we are about to hang up I will say "Ok, love you! Bye!" and Sarah Ann's response, without fail, is "Ok. Bye." This used to drive me up the wall because I wanted to hear her say " I love you too!" However, now I just laugh because, of course, I know she loves me without hearing her say it, but also because Sarah Ann goes out of her way to show me that she loves me without actually saying it. Phone calls to check in, helping me with math, inviting me to play frisbee with her, all of these things say "I love you," Sarah Ann style. My dad is the exact same way. When my mom says "I love you" at the end of a phone conversation, he inevitably says "Uh-huh. Bye." It drives my mother crazy. He is just already on to the next thought or preparing for his next action when he hangs up.

I, on the other hand, say the phrase without meaning to at the end of phone conversations and have to backtrack when I say it to the helpless victim on the other end of the line who was just telling me the movie times, telling me that their child will be attending an event at the Springer, or telling me that, no, their daughter isn't home, but they will have her call me when gets in. Oh yes, I have told friends parents, employers, other people's boyfriends, and the operator giving me the movie times, that I love them. And I am sure that I do love them, but I didn't mean to say it out loud and makes for an embarrassing situation. And yet, this brings up an interesting thought. Why did I not mean to tell them? And why am I embarrassed for saying it?

As a Christian, I am called to love my neighbor. I assume this to mean all men, not just the people in my apartment complex. And yes, I am sure that this means in my actions toward these people and how I treat them, but does it not encompass verbal love as well? In the same way, take the religion out of it, and is not the theme of our world peace and love? Do we not all desire for there to be peace and mutual harmony amongst those we live with? All you need is love, right?

With these thoughts and ideas in mind, what then is so ominous, scary, intimidating, and taboo about saying "I love you" to those around us? Why is it so hard to form those three little words? I for one, know that I say it often to most everyone I know. Am I too liberal with the phrase? I don't say it without meaning it. I truly mean it every time I say it. Maybe I have a fear of missing the chance to say it and therefore over use it. Or perhaps I simply have a genuine need/want/desire to express my love for those in my life on a regular basis.

My sister, Caroline, uses the phrase more sparsely than I, though more frequently than Sarah Ann. In the past, she has expressed to me her hesitancy to say "I love you" because of her fear of being rejected. That fear is not lost on me. I can name several instances when I have used the phrase and heard nothing in return or, worse, "Thank you." Ouch. Talk about rejection. I would rather get "Ok, bye." However, I think that my desire to express my love trumps my fear of not getting a response, or rather a desired response, in return.

Still, am I too liberal with the term? Does Sarah Ann not use it enough or does it mean more when she says it because of her irregular use? Who knows? To each his own, I suppose. Either way, love expressed, verbally or not, is love and I'll take it in any form. Who doesn't need love?


Emily said...

you are so talanted!

love-a you t!

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