Once upon a time I believed in the pure, untainted concept of love. When my hair was still the color of straw dust and my perception of the world resided in fairytale novels my mother would recount to my brother and I in order for us to fall asleep faster. I thought the way my parents met (on the street, my father asked my mother for a cup of coffee) was incredibly romantic and anticipated the moment a boy would serenade me with ‘Lady in Red’ the way my father did my mother. I thought people met and felt the instant surge of love course through their veins, transforming a perfect stranger into a long lost soul mate. I was a hopeless romantic, rooting for Hermione and Harry (spoiler alert: what a shame) and enraptured by the relationship of my older next door neighbor and her boyfriend.
And then my parents divorced. It was as if a cancer infiltrated my life, residing in the shadows of my childhood home and poisoning us all with a rapid intensity until we were fragments, puzzle pieces strewn on the plush living room carpet, granted the ghostly kiss of reality. The end of something I had witnessed my entire life felt like an icy bucket of cold water had been emptied on my head, shattering an ideology I had grown up to worship.
Ever since then, I viewed love differently. I would tip toe around the burnt floorboards of my home, avoiding the cracked eggshells, finding solace in the comfort of oversized sweaters and hiding in my empty bath tub. I should probably mention that bath tubs are entirely overrated, they are a great place to overanalyze one’s state of adolescent despair.
When I went home this Christmas and watched my father’s new family from behind the fogged windows, I spoke to my brother about everything we had experienced together yet coincidentally alone.
He said: “(blank) confused beauty for love.”
Me: “But aren’t those two of the same? We fall in love with something we identify we love.”
He shrugged: “Just the idea of it. I would never marry anyone beautiful, or for an idea.”
Nowadays, I look all around myself. There are vouchers for couple getaway retreats, films about finding love in unfamiliar places, songs on the radio about an entity no one can really define. I look at those happy-go-lucky couples strolling down the street hand in hand, their eyes twinkling with the newfound hope every young somewhat cynical romantic must feel, and they look happy. But they are happy for something that has a time limit, the hourglass of their relationship draining slowly but surely.
Of course, I don’t think love is entirely an idea or a manufactured emotion for the consumerists of the 21st century today. I know how lovely it feels to see the morning sun rays illuminate your beloved’s peaceful sleeping face, the comfort of nuzzling in your boyfriend’s neck (regardless of the fact that it smells of another girl’s perfume), sharing your accomplishments with someone-anyone and being recognized for your brilliance/awesomeness/intelligence. Those feelings are nice.
But nice is also not crying yourself to sleep at night, not feeling the gaping presence of a hole in your life, not staring at those four words on the dazzling screen of your phone: “I don’t love you anymore.” Well, did you ever? Or have you been bred, like sheep or cattle, to believe love is all about daisies, running in the meadows and telling someone you love them after snorting a line of cocaine? And then once you saw how easy it is to break someone, saw the mascara streaks creating rivulets in the creases of their cheeks, watched the anger paint their face in unfamiliar shade-did you retract the statement of love? Did you choose to reconsider what you loved me for?
Love shouldn’t be about Facebook relationships, monogamy, dinner dates, and cheesy poetry. Love should be insane, it should ignite the fire instead of dull it’s flame. Call me a pessimist, a realist, an imbecile. But don’t cave or become entrapped by the idea of manufactured love.