For as long as I can remember I’ve been in love with the idea of being in love.
When I was younger love sounded to me like pop songs on the radio and it looked to me like the lives of fictional characters kissing in the rain on movie screens. I spent hours after school watching re-runs of classic romantic comedies, Pretty Woman and Dirty Dancing on repeat, day in and day out.
As I grew up, love looked to me like the boy at the party whose charismatic charm and undivided attention knocked me over and picked me back up in one grand effortless swoop. Love quickly became pining, and daydreaming, and crying. A glittering mixture of teenage angst and love sickness spilt over every corner of my life. Love didn’t feel like the movies, love felt like a desperation for validation.
Over the next few years love changed faces and changed names but love always began in smiles, and handholding and naïve proclamations of adoration. Love changed places and times but love always ended in loud silences, knotted stomachs and implicit expressions of dissatisfaction. Love felt like being put on a pedestal by another person and so naturally love also felt like being a disappointment.
After a while love got darker. Love began in bars and parties and ended in awkward goodbyes sprinkled with indifference. Love laughed in the right places, love paid attention at all the right times, love said all the right things. Love never stayed the night. Love was the cat that catches the mouse to tease it for hours before finally putting it out of its misery. Love became synonymous with words like ‘unattainable,’ ‘unrealistic,’ and ‘unlikely.’
Recently love changed its appearance. Love looked to me like a soft place, somewhere warm where I could rest my head for a while. A while was a few months, a few countries and a few encounters. A while set my heart on fire, albeit temporarily, but it was ablaze nonetheless. Love recently taught me one of the most important lessons I have ever learned: I am love.
For all those years I was looking for love, for all those romantic comedies I watched, for all the pop songs I sang along to, for the relationships that lasted years and for the relationships that lasted the length of a night, I didn’t realize the truth about love until very recently.
I have come to realize that love is not something to find. Love is not something to have. Love is something to be. Love is kindness to strangers. Love is kindness to family and kindness to friends. Love is holding doors open for people. Love is smiling. Love is drinking the hot chocolate without worrying about the calorie content. Love is petting the stranger’s dog in the street. Love is writing the words. Love is singing the song. Love is running and love is being still. Love is surprising people. Love is reassuring people. Love is surprising myself. Love is reassuring myself.
Love is not something we have. Love is something we learn to become.