Too often, we allow our relationships to be ruled and defined by time and numbers: the number of dial tones before you answer a call, the number of minutes between each text message, the number of weeks before you make it ‘official’ — the number of months before you admit you love them.
We carry a hefty load of neatly folded preconceptions; each dictating the precarious rules of love as defined within a socially recognized timeline. We strive to hit the markers, push to reach certain dates and anniversaries, find romantic poignancy and validation within the crease of a calendar or the regularity of a Facebook notification.
There are just so many questions, after all — such an endless list of potentially awkward variables. How many dates should a couple go on before they sleep together? How many drinks before the male is no longer obligated to pay? How many days before you should phone them back? How many years before an age difference becomes socially unacceptable?
We become so easily caught up in the self-imposed mechanics of love that we too often forget to enjoy it for all its intended presence — its quiet, indisputable now-ness.
You see, love shouldn’t be cultivated in a particular date or time of day or pace of communication. It shouldn’t be anticipated, slept through, hurried, or slowed down. Love isn’t a business meeting, work shift, or coffee date. Love isn’t defined or restricted by a certain number of sunsets or the dry inconvenience of traffic lights; it doesn’t have a due date or deadline — it’s without consequence or promotion.
Love, simply put, isn’t numeric. There is no equation, no set blueprint to follow. It’s only once we stop focusing on each and every slow, anxiously considered step — once we relieve ourselves of the pressing social construct of time and numbers — that we’re able to feel it the way it’s meant to be felt.
Time itself falls wayside as a mere triviality; a sordid, habitual structure enforced so readily, so drearily by all those around you. The social laws by which you once functioned become dwarfed in your lovers presence. They slowly but surely become your calendar — they become your clock.
You’re no longer woken by the rude, familiar wailing of your alarm — but by the shifting frame of their body, tangled in your sheets. Sunday has been secretly re-named “Market Day;” Monday, your favorite “Do-Nothing-Together” day. The minutes which fall silently between messages no longer bare the same crippling significance — the frequency of their calls no longer dictate how much they care. You won’t admit you love them because it’s been three or four or five months, but because it’s raining and their favorite song is playing and you suddenly feel the words bubbling up from deep within to the point of no constraint. Age won’t matter, money won’t matter — time and dates and numbers won’t matter.
Of course, the world won’t really care that you’re in love. Your boss won’t care, your account balance won’t care, the traffic lights won’t care — nor will the clocks, phone alarms, early Tuesday mornings or fast-approaching work deadlines.
To the world, your love will be irrelevant — and perhaps so it should be.
Because isn’t life, itself, already scheduled enough? Aren’t our movements and actions already so steadily dictated by figures and timelines and digits on screens? Don’t we already run for departing trains and buses — count out the available hours of a parking space — plan each meals and drink and weekend away to our waining, entry-level budgets?
Surely our love deserves more than to be so carelessly folded into such mundanity. Surely it deserves to be free of constraint, free of dictation; free of minutes and hours and dates and tired mathematics. Free of all the judgmental uncertainty that comes along with it. We need to harbor our love as though nobody in history has ever experienced a thing like it — as if there were no rules, no guidelines — no hints, tricks or clues.
We need to harbor it as if there was no time — as if there were no numbers, and even if there were, they wouldn’t even matter.