on loving quietly

I hate math.

I’m sorry, but I do. With all my heart. (Sometimes I lie in bed during the early hours wondering why I have signed my life away to a degree in Biology. Do I really think I can handle a semester more of Calculus without going insane?)

The other day, while I was struggling not to pull my hair out of frustration concerning a certain polynomial, one of my closest friends said to me, “Don’t stress, Christen. Math isn’t your forte. Love is.”

Since I’m not a jack of all trades, I like to think that I’m a master at some. Love is, or was, definitely one of them.

I classified myself as a master at loving because I thought I understood the many different ways of loving. I love strongly, I love gently, I love faithfully, I love hopelessly. I love loudly.

But I’ve only recently learned that I can love strongly but quietly at the same time.

As a poet, my love style is through words. I love words of reassurance, words of compassion, words of adoration. It’s my preferred way of receiving love and my preferred way of giving love.

A few weeks ago, I asked my lover a question. We have different love styles, and though we always manage to make it work, the difference sometimes causes conflict, which it did that day.

I’m not going to go into details because they aren’t of the utmost importance, but she replied to my question with another question: “Do I have to tell you I love you all the time for you to know that I do?”

I showered her with kisses in the form of words of appreciation for allowing me to grow that day. She kissed me back before heading into dreamland, leaving me with time to myself to put together what she had taught me.

There is loud love, the kind I’m used to: the one where I feel like proclaiming love to the world, shouting it out into the universe, asking the galaxies outside of our own if they’ve ever felt something like it.

But there is quiet love too, the kind that I need to practice more and get better at: the one where we know the love is there without having to proclaim it to the world, whispering it like we’re in a library through the smallest of actions, being so quiet that we don’t disrupt even stardust from their slumber.

And through this love I can write my lover a story of fiction, open up to her about a boy wandering through the desert looking for a locket of his mother’s he lost years ago, create a world of my own by stringing together words I think would fit best in lines, without including the word “love” as if it is taboo. And I can give this story to her and she will know that I love her, not because I wrote her a piece on me loving her or because I wrote her a piece with the words “I love you and you alone,” but because I wrote it for her and her alone, and that act alone is enough for her to know.

On some days now I choose to love loudly, but on some days I choose to love quietly.

And because it seems like there are a million different ways of loving that I have yet to discover, I’d like to classify myself not as a master of loving, but one in progress.

So I don’t think I have the authority to tell you how to love based on my not having mastered loving, but I can tell you this:

Do you have to hear “I love you” all the time to know that you are loved?

No. You don’t. And neither do you have to say it either to love.

Save your voice.

Sometimes it’s good to.

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