I Love You in Different Times

The 80s I love you: Party Line Problem
The phone sans the caller ID rang.
I picked it up.
“Hello?” I said.
Silence on the other end of the line.
(says my codename).
I smiled, careful not to let my parents hear that I was talking with him.
“How are you?” he asked.
“I’m good. What about you?” I replied.
“I just thought about you,” he said.
We talked about childhood stuff the way tweens did.
The party-line interrupted us and told us that she would use the phone.
“We have just started talking,” I contested.
“Oh, are you entertaining suitors over the phone?” she dared ask.
It was the late 80s where people were conservative.
“Just give me the line; this is an emergency!” she demanded.
We let her use the line; he promised to call me up later.
After half an hour, I picked up the handset.
The party-line was still talking with her boyfriend.
It was not an emergency!
I interrupted them, “I’m expecting a call.”
“You rude little girl! We’re still talking!” she said.
Rude? I showed them how rude I could get.
I placed the handset beside a loud walkie-talkie.
I heard a woman screaming in anger.
I won.
The phone sans the caller ID rang.
It was him.
We talked again.
I heard my father’s footsteps.
I told him that I needed to hang up.
“I love you,” he said.
I did not respond.

The 90s I love you: The Operator-Assisted Call
“Hello?” I said
“Why did you ignore me this morning at school?” he asked.
“I did not notice you,” I said.
“But you noticed “X,” he replied.
He let out a deep breath.
Then we talked about our Science subject because we both liked it.
“I will be out of town this weekend. What do you want as pasalubong?”
I told him that I was not after the pasalubong.
“Okay, I’ll just buy what my money could buy. I love you.”
“I love you, too,” then I hang up.
The phone rang again.
“What did you just say?” he asked.
“Ah, that’s nothing,” I said.
“No, I heard you said that you love me, too.”
“Brotherly love,” then I hang up with blushing cheeks.

Three years later, the phone sans the caller ID rang.
“Hello,” I said.
The operator said that it was a long-distance call.
I accepted the call, excited about the person on the other end of the line.
“I miss you,” he said.
“I miss you, too,” I said.
We ranted about how long the sem-break seemed to be as first-time lovers normally did.
And as expected, at the end of the long-distance call was this: “Bye for now. Take care and I love you,” he said.
“I can’t hear the last words,” I said.
He shouted the last words and I could just imagine how the other callers from the phone booths reacted.

The 2000s I love you: Age of Shortcuts
Text message.
“Mis u. Luv u,” he said.
“Luv u 2,” I said.

This further evolved into instant messaging two decades later with emojis and .gifs.

I’ve seen, heard, and felt love since the late 80s up to the present times. I notice how saying “I love you” becomes easier now than before. It could be because the emojis allow people to express themselves openly that is why saying “I love you” becomes as normal as saying “Please” or “Thank you.”
Don’t get me wrong, I support expressiveness between lovers, families, and friends. When it comes to people who do not share a deep relationship, I find it odd when they say “I love you” as an expression of approval or agreement.
The changing times allow my thoughts to wander to the days when saying “I love you” was difficult because the recipient would hold on to it and expect that those words and actions would last.