woman looking left under dried leaves

When I Say I’m In Love With Him, This Is What I Really Mean

I keep thinking about how we say, “I’m in love.”

Like we’re inside of it, immersed in it, can’t see the sky or the ground for it, head over heels submerged in it.

And it sounds so beautiful, doesn’t it? It sounds so beautiful, like a place where the sun always shines, or a place where we always have an umbrella when it rains, or a place where our hands are not too small to hold onto all of the things we want to keep.

Love is a country we buy one-way tickets to, hoping we’ll never have to leave.

(Nobody promises we’ll never have to leave.)

(Return tickets are so hard to get later, so expensive—how expensive? Oh, they cost more than I can say.)

But then I think about how we say, “I’m in love with him.”

And how to be in something with someone else implies that they’re in it with you.

“I’m in the pool with him” means that we’re in the pool together.

“I’m in the store with him” means that we’re in the store together.

“I’m in Spain with him” means that we’re in Spain together.

So when I say, “I’m in love with him,” it’s a lie, I’m sorry, it’s a lie.

Because I have looked around, trust me, I have looked everywhere, everywhere, around words and looks and hand touches, beneath silences and distance and hopefulness, and he is not in here with me.

We are not in this together, I am in this alone.

You could say I am in love for him.

You could say I am in love at him.

You could say I am in love toward him.

You could say I am in love around him, beside him, behind him, beneath him.

But you could not say I am in love with him.

Because no matter how hard I’ve looked, I’m not.

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