I’ve always found the definition of love a tricky thing. And by this I’m referring to the romantic sort of love. Familial, platonic or (gods forbid) religious love are so not my forte at all. If the kind of love found in bearing and raising a child or inspired by a man on a cross or making a pilgrimage to a holy land is in need of classification, I’m not qualified to give it. Of course, I’m not really much more qualified to offer anything authoritative in the vein of love between people who cannot explain why they feel how they feel for whomever they feel it for. Of course, maybe that’s the point. Like how some words (for example the disused ‘unrepentant’, or the overused ‘natural’) lose their power the more they’re used, maybe love loses its allure the more data you collect on it.
Each new paramour brought me a new way of feeling love that I hadn’t previously thought of. And despite my many former lovers stroke unrequited crushes, I still have absolutely no idea what exactly love means or is even supposed to mean. For all I know, I may have never yet been in love.
But something makes me doubt that rather cynical view of myself. Now, I know I’m a romantic (whatever that means), always have been. When I was younger, I wanted to be a rescued princess. Now I accept that (depending who I fall for), I may have to do the heroics myself and I’m prepared for that. I'm also prepared for there to be no heroics necessary. I was never too passive in the pursuit of what (or who) I wanted. I had a pretty spotless record in telling someone when I had feelings for them (generally at the very last moment in some grand setting up for him or her to run off with me into the sunset. What? I’ve always had a flair for histrionics). I even had a girlfriend for a few months in my sophomore year of high school.
Yeah, one girlfriend in all my twenty-three years and yes, here I am waxing poetic about love. But we were in love: that all-consuming, making plans for the future, completely uncynical “we are going to be together forever” type of love. Whether that love is even real (or in its innocence, the most real) is a question I’ve not yet answered.
There was a boy I knew, still know technically. This boy is beautiful (seriously, that's the best adjective to describe him) and talented as they come. He's funny and caring. He can also be petty and manipulative and a host of other things that prove to me perfect is not an adjective I want to describe him. I've been in love with him since I was nineteen years old. Since a September night when I was nineteen years old, I can pinpoint it no further than that. I had minutes of being unable to pull a full breath or calm my racing heart. I'd known this boy for a few years by this point, we're friends and yeah, I have a crush, have since before we were actually introduced. In this moment, however, I realize those friendly and affectionate feelings have somehow chosen this moment to change him from a friend I'd totally date if he asked me out to the most amazing, flawed person I have ever met in the whole of my life. I've been carrying this around in me for a while. It's just there. It's a fact about me. I admit a selfishness in keeping my feelings secret; if I tell him and am let down, I will have to cauterize those feelings away in the interest of continuing on as his friend (a position I'd like to hold until my last breath, thank you). I want to know that I always have this love inside me, the depth of feeling for this boy. It gets me through the times I feel numb.
I think we, as living beings, have an inherent need for love. Lock a man in a solitary room and he will make friends with the dust bunnies. And, I think, we all desire the same basic things from a partner. Here’s mine anyway:
Someone who makes me laugh and lets me cry. Whoever came before or will come after will never be comparable, like comparing apples and ostriches. There will be a list up on the bedroom door. In it, we’ll have our solemn promises: nothing like “I will have sex with no one but you” or “I will always take out the garbage”. No, that’s all shit. Nobody can ever (or should ever) make such broad, forever vows like that. Things like “I will not pester you about your music if you don’t pester me about mine first” and “If we go to bed angry, the one who got the last word in has to sacrifice the covers to the other for that night.”