Sunday, June 19, 2016

A Note On Love

The rooftops of Rome from the Musei Capitolini
You grew up thinking you were funny-looking. You had bad skin, your hair wasn’t quite right, your eyes were weird and your teeth were far from toothpaste-commercial ready. You thought you were smart and kind, but you were also insecure and socially awkward. You did the best you could, but the only love you thought you would ever feel was familial. And sometimes even that seemed doubtful.

You did find love, or something close to it. There was joy, of course, but mostly what you felt was relief. The idea of a lifetime of loneliness suddenly seemed distant and fatalistic. It was comforting, and, for a while, you tried to convince yourself that it was for the long haul; that when it happens, it’ll be for keeps.

You were wrong, of course. But it was fun while it lasted.

You were optimistic, or tried to convince yourself you were one. With seven billion people on the planet, you told yourself that the odds were in your favor that maybe it was going to happen again. That love was going to find you again.

But a year went by, then two, and then two more. Those familiar feelings of inadequacy and panic began to resurface. Were you being too picky? Was there something fundamentally repellent about you? Had the world simply run out of people you could actually imagine spending the rest of your life with?

The odds, as it turns out, really are in your favor, and as soon as you explored universes beyond your own and allowed yourself to experience newer things did it finally happen: you meet a person who restores your belief in that most abstract of concepts.

Love, of course.

It manifests in the person who turns smoke into concrete; who makes what’s theoretical and vague into something rational and real. Now, love isn’t just a word you struggled to define: it’s the hand you reach for and the eyes you gaze into in the morning; the flowers that materialize in front of you when you least expect it; and those kisses, breathless and fiery, that accompany hellos and goodbyes.

Love is the person you can have an actual conversation with after that which is fun but fleeting. It’s when you appreciate your differences even more than your similarities. It’s what’s left after you strip away the physical and superficial and reveal the person behind the idea. It’s who’s on your mind when you want to share unexpected good news, or when you hear a cheesy love song that comes on at a random moment, or any time you catch yourself with a goofy smile. Most of all, it’s the person who’s supportive and kind, who can make you forget all your insecurities, and, as a bonus, who can make you feel like you’re cuter than a litter of golden retriever puppies. It’s an incredible feeling, and one you remember never to take for granted.

You realize, of course, that it’s presumptuous to assume that this’ll be it; that you can kiss your loneliness fears goodbye and start planning your honeymoon and the next fifty years together. You tread carefully and exercise caution, but you go with your gut and give it your all. It’s what this, or any other relationship, deserves. Cynicism is a ridiculously easy refuge, especially after past experiences, but that’s not you. You choose to err on the side of faith and embrace your un-ironic optimism. You owe it to your previously skeptical, hopelessly inadequate self.

You choose to be grateful, because love is a beautiful, amazing thing, and the fact that you feel it towards one person, and, more importantly, have that person return the feeling, makes it even more special. It's more than you could ever hope for, and perhaps, more than you deserve.