I’m calling bullshit on this whole idea of “love at first sight.”
I get the romanticism of it, trust me. Most days, I go back and forth calling myself a realist and a romantic. Love has been a driving force in my life. My craving for it seems almost run-of-the-mill, it’s like wanting a cup of coffee in the morning. I just want it.
Nothing terrifies me more than thinking I won’t find that kind of consuming love again. The one that has taken over every inch of my body and left me so out of my goddamn mind, I didn’t know it was possible to feel so much. Maybe I feel too much. Maybe this is all my problem and I’m still living a teenage cliche, wanting a person to be everything. I know that’s not what I really want. It’s not what I really even need. I’ve always been okay on my own. I seek solitude even when I find that love I so badly yearn for.
I understand why we want to believe it exists. Love at first sight is such a gorgeous concept, but I can’t buy it.
I don’t buy it.
Sure, I’d love to just look at someone and have that be it. Forever. I carry around a pocket size book of Pablo Neruda love poems with me. I’m totally gross like that. I want to believe love is enough, but have seen things and learned enough to know you have to work for it. You don’t just look at someone and have that feeling last for an eternity.
If I could replay those moments right before a first kiss with someone on loop, I would. The sheer optimism of it all. The magnetism before lips meet and how much could be. I love the seconds before reality hits. I love the fantasy of it all. But then people fall asleep. And I’m still there, awake, wanting to kiss and fuck and talk all night long. I stay awake in the fantasy. My eyes are open, but I’m not even there. I’m never there.
I thought love at first sight was a thing for a long time. I believed in it. I didn’t necessarily share this with everyone. It kind of felt like still believing in Santa Claus. I was afraid it made me seem stupid. Young. A little girl who hadn’t seen enough to know. I just didn’t know.
My high school boyfriend said he felt it for me, right away. It was love at first sight and he had zero doubts. He saw me across the street walking home from school and there was this undeniable glow he had never seen someone have before. I used to joke with him, “Okay, you already got me. I’m here. We can cut the bullshit story.” But he would insist. He said it was fate. It was destiny. It was every word that, unless you’re caught up in the magic of love, sounds grotesque and fake. It all sounds fake when you’re not in the heaviness of love. And right now, I’m not. I’m not in love with anyone. Maybe that’s why I’m thinking about it so much.
When you’re in love, you don’t even think about it. It’s just there, oozing out each pore. It’s tangled up in your hair, your fingernails. Love is all up in your business. But now, I try to remember how it all felt. Nine months ago, when I looked at him in that bar and thought, “Holy shit. I feel it. I feel what everyone says I can’t feel right away.”
My heart doesn’t flip when he texts anymore. And I know this is a good thing. It wasn’t healthy, this obsessive love-lust-like thing I was swimming in. But was I in love the moment I saw him? Was that growing, gnawing, sometimes ugly, sometimes beautiful, thing I felt for him instantly there? All of it? In that one moment?
No. It wasn’t. It was something, but in that moment, when he smiled underneath neon lights and I felt the entire world stop moving for one singular moment, I didn’t fall in love. I fell in wanting.
I believe in connections. I think you can meet someone, and with no real explanation, just know they will be important. You can vibe with one another, laugh and joke until the bar shuts down. You talk until the whole world shuts down. But it’s not love. It can’t be love. Not yet.
Love grows with you. You fight for love, and trust, it will fight right back with you. Love isn’t always rational or the right move. Sometimes, love isn’t even enough. That’s not the most romantic thought to have, but it’s true. It isn’t always enough to love someone. It isn’t all saving. It’s not the superhero we paint it out to be.
Love at first sight can’t exist when love requires so much more than physical appearance. A glance. A look. Love requires commitment and ugliness. It requires letting down barriers and guards, saying to someone, “Hey, I trust you. I trust you with this. I trust you with me.”
Love requires time.
I didn’t love him right away. It wasn’t until much later, in his apartment, when I tended to his bleeding knuckles and he spilled secrets he never intended to unleash, that’s when I knew I loved him. But love wasn’t enough for us. And maybe there’s a beauty in that too. Maybe it’s just as romantic to know, no, love at first sight doesn’t exist, but when it’s right, when the love is ready and willing, it will bloom. It will blossom and you might have to trim some weeds along the way, but if you take care of it, it will be enough. It will survive.
I believe in the survival of love. Love is a lot tougher than we give it credit. When it’s right, it will endure. Maybe it just hasn’t been right yet.