I’ve been noticing a lot of articles about loving specific types of people, from travelers to artists to servicemen and beyond. They’re all beautifully written and are intended to make the subject feel special. When you finish each piece, you feel exalted. You think of all the people you know that fit that description and you share it through accordingly. And that’s the point they serve. If they speak to you, it’s because you or the person you already love is already that person.
I’m not here to trash the writers, or to negate their writing. What I want to say is that in many cases we are missing the overall point about love — you can’t pick who you fall for. Simple as that.
When we fall in love, we often have no control over it, so let that idea go real quick. You ever have a situation where someone is perfect on paper but there is something just off? Maybe they’re a pianist with a trust fund, or have a sweet apartment. Maybe their parents are well off, or that got this weird southern twang that you’re into. They should be perfect, except they’re just… not. That’s chemistry, and you can’t fake it no matter how hard you try.
On the reverse, maybe you met someone who is the exact opposite of you but for some strange reason you can’t get them out of your head? They don’t read anything other than Cosmo or Sports Illustrated but you kind of dig that they cry at Google commercials or get so into Dexter they shout at the TV.
Truth be told, I know several world travelers, and while their online photo albums are exciting to look at, what makes them special — what would make me want to fall in love with them, as these articles suggest — isn’t that they’ve been to all those places, but little things. My friend Steven is from Cyprus and makes the best granola I have ever tasted. My friend Al is a published photo journalist in Dhaka but her most prized possession is her scarf collection. (It’s impressive, trust me.) My friend Will is so loyal to his friends, that when my mom died, he stuck by me even though we’d only met two months prior, and made damn sure I didn’t drink myself into oblivion like I wanted to. I’m not saying that it isn’t really cool that they got out of their home town and saw things, but what I’m trying to say is that people who travel don’t acquire these qualities that instantly make them more lovable than other types of people. The fact that they travel, or write, or do anything else that is exemplary and singular is an extension of who they are, but it’s not the whole story.
Most people are incredibly lovable to the right person or people, just because they are. Not because of what they do or what they’ve seen or how they express themselves. They just are.
You should just love a person, unrequited, or mutual, be it the one you marry or a summer fling. Give your heart simply because it’s the most wonderfully reckless thing you can do, because love at its core is vulnerability and vulnerability is beautiful.
So love anyone or anything. Love your dog, or the ocean. Love your mom because she didn’t have to stay up with you all those times you had the flu only to get it herself. Love your dad because he acted as both parents when your mom left. Love you nephew because he makes counting cars on a rainy day, fun. Love your best friend as your best friend or maybe something a little more. Love someone who died or is dying. Love some that hurt you because denying that feeling isn’t going to make it go away faster.
Love yourself, because that’s pretty damn special, regardless of what you do, or who you turn out to be.