love + other words

My sister and her now-husband were married ten days ago (applause!), and their vows were the first time -- after four years of dating -- that they said "I love you." Personally, I'm of the mind that if you know that you love someone, you should get right down to business and let that person know. Every day. As often as possible. And for me, words are a good way to do that, although that's not necessarily the only way for everyone.

What my sister's relationship makes me conscious of is the importance of holding words sacred, of how words can be gifts, hidden away until the chosen moment and made all the more valuable for their rarity.  I'll still tell you I love you if I do, gosh darn it, and don't try and stop me, but I'm very careful now not to spray the word around needlessly.

This can make for awkward blog comments on my part (e.g., "Oh, how I enjoy and appreciate that squirrel washi tape dispenser!" is not as punchy as the ubiquitous "LOVE it!"), but it's a healthy, creative challenge to figure out how to say something I truly mean and to identify specifically what it is that catches my eye. It's heroic to take a threadbare word that has been washed and wrung out many times and to hold it gently, tuck it away, save it from unraveling.


  1. That's a really interesting take on vows and the meaning of 'I love you.' And although I throw it around with respect to inanimate objects, with people I'm a bit more careful. But not scared. Never scared that I'll lose something when I share it with someone I feel that way about. Love is supposed to be one of those things that doesn't follow the law of diminishing returns, right?

  2. i have a difficulty saying i love you to people. when i manage to say it, it makes me truly and deeply emotional, i think because i mean it 1000%. and this way i expose myself which is a hard thing for me to do. cause for me i love you means i am here for you, to give you everything. and you just don't feel this way every day..

  3. what a terrific post!

    i really respect your sister for waiting until her wedding day to say those words- so many people just throw "love" out there before their hearts truly comprehend what they feel. i think my husband and i said it rather early in our relationship . . . we meant it then and i wouldn't take it back; but now that we're married, i'm learning more and more the depth of love. and it's so much more {SO much better} than i knew when we first said those words!!!

  4. That last sentence is deeply wonderful and profound. My soul needed it today.

  5. I'm always so conscious of the blog comments I make as I too don't want to always say 'love it' and nothing else. Thanks for making me realise I'm not the only one! Oh and this is my first time reading your blog and I think it's wonderful. For want of a better phrase, I love it! (but I really do!).

  6. I use the 'love' word too often in comments. I think you're right, I should be challenging myself to expand what I want to say about something, and hold certain words sacred. This post actually reminded me of what Catherine Belsey wrote about saying 'I love you':

    "It is silent, first, in recognition of its banality. 'Every other night, on TV', Roland Barthes points out, 'someone says: I love you'. How can we, unique and autonomous as we long to be, capture the extraordinary experience of desire by echoing this worn-out commonplace, this blank performative, which lacks nuances and 'suppresses explanations, adjustments, degrees, scruples'? 'I love you' obliterates the distinctiveness of the desire it sets out to capture, and affirms at the same time the difference it sets out to efface, the gap between 'I' and 'you', investing the performance in the process with a certain solitariness."

    It's interesting to think about this, isn't it?

  7. Hmm, that's really interesting. I'm probably someone who says 'love' a lot in many different ways. I wonder if this means that it tends to lose its significance? Thanks for getting me thinking ...

  8. you know, ever since my grandma passed away, i started to keep telling myself that i should show my appreciation to everyone that i love. i totally agree with you :}

  9. gosh, Sarah. This rings so true to me. I've been trying lately to be deliberate with my words ... to truly mean what I'm saying. I've thought especially of the word love ... the special word that has to be earned with friends and significant other's but is thrown around with objects. The way I feel about things doesn't really come close to the way I feel about the people I love - so there must be a different word for them.

    It makes me think of this quote from Louis CK :

    "As humans, we waste the sh-t out of our words. It’s sad. We use words like “awesome” and “wonderful” like they’re candy.
    It was awesome? Really? It inspired awe?
    It was wonderful? Are you serious? It was full of wonder?
    You use the word ‘amazing’ to describe a g-ddamn sandwich at Wendy’s. What’s going to happen on your wedding day, or when your first child is born? How will you describe it? You already wasted ‘amazing’ on a (effing) sandwich."