On Writing My Love Letter
I am looking around the room and trying to explain why it is that I feel like I’m on the threshold of a breakdown. I’m at a table by myself, slightly hunched over my Macbook Pro, typing furiously at a group of words I can’t seem to get right. My lips move in small shapes as I silently make the words on the page real sounds in my head and they are beautiful and singing until I type the wrong word, stop, and hear a piano in a distant place inside my mind bang out a note too sharp.
I’m trying to write a love letter.
I’ve written them before. I write them often. Usually, I write them to lovers and friends, family members even. However, as I sit now, hunched over these keys, this is the first time I am ever writing a love letter to the person I hope to spend a very long time with.
We met five months ago, and it felt like the world finally began to make sense to me. He is handsome, he is smart, he is wonderful, he is kind. He is like me, he is unlike me, he is his own like no one else is.
I am typing the words I wrote above, and I hear them exclusively in cliches from every romantic comedy or tragically beautiful love story that has ever been written. I am translating our romance in terms of Nicholas Sparks and then Jane Austen, Shakespeare while I reach for Michael Cunningham and beg for the help of TS Elliot. And then, I look up, straighten my shoulders, and stab furiously at the backspace button. I delete every word, because there are thousands and thousands of them, but not one of them is coming together to sound as beautiful as his name.
When we started to fall in love, I promised him that I would be difficult, tentative, hesitant, and afraid of anything that felt remotely real. He told me he didn’t mind.
The first time that he told me that he loved me we were in bed. He was on top of me, looking down at me.
His light blue-green eyes met my dark brown ones and he suddenly whispered, “I love you.” I heard him, maybe. But as my lips started to turn into a smile, I said, “I’m sorry, what did you say?” He stopped and he said, “Nothing.” I smiled fully, then. My eyes were sparkling, and his were too. He said it again. “I love you, Safeena.” I moved our bodies so that I was on top of him now, my dark brown hands holding his white face, and I moved my lips down and kissed him. I whispered, my eyes closed and my lips an inch from his, “I love you too.”
How do I write that feeling into a love letter?
I want to be honest and I don’t want to sound contrived, but I want desperately for him to know that if I am the moon, he is the sun and the light that he shines on and in and through me is so bright I can hardly remember that the people are always mumbling about a part of me they call my dark side.
If I am my Macbook, he has become my charger. If I am the stars, he has become the explosions that make me shine. If I am the ocean, he is the sand and I move back and forth and back and forth, searching the earth to kiss him.
I look around me and I hear the white noise of the coffee shop in sharp bursts, instead. My favorite song, Primavera by Ludovico Einaudi, starts playing from the speakers above me. The song holds me tight as I look from table to table. “Where do you see yourself in five years?” a man wearing a long-sleeve crew neck smiles to a girl with curly hair and an oversized flannel shirt. “Your argument is completely unclear,” a young graduate student says sharply to a student with her nose so close to the piece of paper she’s writing on she’s practically smudging the graphite with her blackheads. “But do you miss him?” A concerned best friend is patting the arm of a girl with her back towards me. Her spine is more sad and burdened than my own. Laughter from the table next to me. Spoons clinking on the rims of mugs across the wooden floor from me. Boots tentative on the stairs and disappearing down to the first floor.
I look back at my Macbook and at the empty screen.
I close it and I pull out a piece of paper and my Pilot G-2 pen. I put the pen to the paper and I write, “Darling,” and the sound of the pen scratching across the paper completes the orchestra of sounds in the coffee shop, in my head, and the composition of the words on my tongue that spell all the love I need to give you starts to come together in perfect rhythm.
I write and I do not stop until I see that our love is enough that I’m nearly out of ink. It was just stuck in my fingers, waiting for the right way to sing.