There is an abruptness to it, the way they say your name when it’s a new friendship or when it’s all business. It can come off deliberately but masquerades as casual, as if to say “Hey name, it’s no big deal but…”
Sometimes it’s said in that way that we’re wired to hear with some apprehension, as though it’s something they want from us or some bit of bad news we could do without. Our arches hurt from standing on our toes, creeping carefully. To play the game well we say their name back with the same swirl of trepidation wrapped in formality.
Jess C. Scott says it’s different when someone loves you. “You know that your name is safe in their mouth.” It hangs in the air in a slightly different tonality, promising a little something and assuring everything.
The words grip as they offer, saying I know you and I love you just as they say I’m not afraid despite all the ways you could hurt me. This person loves you in spite of your flaws and dark moments of shame, and this person will keep your secrets. There is a silent understanding, little solemn oaths with each repetition. This efficiency of sentiment is forged in years of beautiful coexistence, one for which there are no shortcuts.