“Come here,” he says playfully, pulling me closer. His arm drapes around my shoulder and as he kisses me, the room spins out of focus. For a second, I forget about the early October chill in the air, the view from this rooftop bar, the warmth of the fire barely reaching my face. For a second, the hum of the voices around me fades and I close my eyes and lean into him.
For a second, I’m like a little kid again, kissing like there’s no tomorrow, kissing like every second counts, kissing like his lips are the best damn thing I’ve ever tasted.
And then we pull away and I’m reminded that we’re in public, that there are people around, that I can’t, and shouldn’t be lip-locking with someone like this in a shared space. I feel guilty.
Why is it that we shy away from showing people how we feel? Why is it when we see a couple making out, we cringe, we judge, we shake our heads? Why is it that we get squeamish when our parents embrace? When teenagers are smitten, their legs tangled on a beach towel in the mid-afternoon sun? When two strangers hold a hug for a minute too long?
Why are we so timid when it comes to public displays of affection, to sharing our hearts? Why are we so nervous when it comes to loving our people with every ounce of energy and passion we have?
We’re so worried about what everyone else will think if we start kissing wildly, if we act on our feelings instead of holding back. We’re so worried that we’ll look foolish, or immature. We’re so worried that other people will shake their heads at us, when maybe the truth is that they so desperately want what we have.
But what if we didn’t live like this?
What if parents kissed passionately in front of their children? Showing them what real love was like, telling them that it’s okay to feel something real for someone when the time is right, encouraging them to express themselves, their affection for the people in their lives.
What if people said what they felt? Confessing their emotions, expressing their thoughts, telling someone they love them when they do, without any sense of fear.
What if hugs were held a minute longer? Giving that person the comfort they need, reminding them that they are loved and cared for, that their emotions are real and valid and understood.
What if people did what they felt? Kissed when they needed to, said what they wanted to say, linked arms and grabbed hands and put arms around shoulders and whispered sweet words to one another as the rest of the world faded away?
What if we normalized affection? Made people feel comfortable, rather than hesitant? Passionate rather than afraid?
What if we really allowed ourselves to feel instead of holding back?
What if it wasn’t silly to lose all sense of time in the embrace of another person? What if instead of frowning at the canoodling couples, we smiled, we remembered that love is a beautiful, human thing and we should celebrate it?
What if, at the end of the day, love is all we have?