Loves, I had promised months ago, on Facebook, to explain why I address you as “loves.” Then I took a whirlwind, three-month journey across the United States, and my opportunities to write were drastically constrained for a while. (Simultaneously, my opportunities to show up for individual loves was vastly amplified, so it still worked out entirely well.) Here in my house, in this beautiful river valley in western New England, with the late summer sun slanting across my propped-up feet with their funny sandal-tan, I’m finally starting to catch my breath, reflect, get organized, and reorient to my priorities.
Why do I call you loves? Who do I think I am, addressing you in this recklessly intimate way? Do I expect you to reciprocate? Am I just sort of weird and flaky? (It’s okay, you don’t need to answer that last one.)
I call you loves because there was a time it was too frightening to imagine issuing that as a blanket term of affection, and I won’t allow such fears to govern my life. But what if I don’t love everything about everybody? What if people don’t love me back? What if people don’t understand and think I’m trying to impose a sort of constructed intimacy out of nothing? It doesn’t matter. You don’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to love me. You don’t have to understand.
I call you loves because there are too many among us, all our relations, who are never called “love.” I want us all to be addressed as “love,” whether we have someone in our close circle doing it, or not. Let it be me, if no one else. Let me remind you that you are loveable and loved. Let me use my little speckish powers of writing on the interwebs to call out “You’re a love! Don’t forget! Forza, coraggio!” I don’t need to meet you to know this. I know all too well how it feels to consider oneself unloveable. It isn’t true, loves. It isn’t true. When you believe this, your demons are playing tricks on you, and they think they are insulating you or making sense out of pain, but they are wrong.
I call you loves because every time you take the risk to reveal yourselves to me, I am honored and delighted. You transcend the forces that drive us apart. You commit acts of everyday courage and beauty, and I’m transfixed that you, we, can do this together, under any circumstance. You say the words you think you cannot say. You take one step, and then another. Do you understand how magnificent you are? Every time I call you love, I want to invoke that magnificence.
I call you loves because sometimes I think I hate you all and I want to break things and wail and have a complete meltdown, and when I call you loves it calls me back to center. I remember gentleness. I remember our imperfectness. I call you love and my heart breaks a little wider and lets in the infinite. It isn’t fluffy, loves; it isn’t all gamboling in meadows. Sometimes it’s just holding your hand in the midst of anguished jaggedness. Sometimes it’s not holding your hand and screaming across thousands of miles but I love you, you stupid fuck-up. Sometimes it’s gazing upon humanity with profound dismay and every last crumb of compassion I can find, resolving to the end to love if it kills me, because I don’t want to live any other way.
I call you loves because the more I extend tendrils of care and openness into the world, the more you reach back, holding me, feeding me, caressing my hair, treating me like the human animal I am with my needs for tenderness and affection. And even if you’re not a touchy-feely sort, you can benignly accept the flow of love that I need to emit. And if you can’t take even that, then you give me the chance to let you go without rancor or expectation.
I call you loves because I object to a culture that views intimacy as weak or peripheral. I object to a way of life that does not see love as a priority, everyday love, not just some exceedingly narrow view of supposed “romantic” love which is endlessly scripted and constrained. Love is not a commodity. Love has nothing to do with making or spending money. Love is free, and we get to spread it around, if we are not so afraid of how we are perceived and all the real and imagined punishments that may come raining down.
I call you loves because my ultimate home is in your hearts, and it’s a beautiful place to live.
I call you loves because love is the name I call you.