When you’re young, you wonder what love will feel like. You read about it and skittishly walk around it, holding someones hand or taking someone to a dance.
Then one day it happens and all at once you’re sick with it. Obsessed and infatuated with that other person, wanting to know their whereabouts, what they are thinking and wearing and eating.. who they are talking to and are they talking about YOU and if they aren’t then why not? And if they are, is it because they too feel what you feel and is any of this real anyways?
Then things get tricky, and people lie and cheat and break that bubble of affection and excitement that comes with first love. Why? Because your young and you have lots of mistakes to make before you know what it is you really want. “Oh what a load of bullshit”, you’ll say, and dig into the ice cream and blast U2 on the stereo in the rain. And you swear you’ll never love anyone or anything again because god it hurts to be hurt. And it’s so disappointing but really, what were you thinking, loving so hard your first time at bat and feeling like it would stay that way forever? The heart is strong but get stronger with a few breaks and tears along the way.
Then comes the intellectual love. The love that you know you should pursue. The guy or girl that makes your family happy and is nice enough and dresses well and has a career. It’s perfect… perfect-ly fine. It’s reserved love. Dutiful love. And you convince yourself that’s what you were after all this time. That silly, childlike adoration and infatuation of your past was just that- silly childlike lovey-dovey crap. This is “adult” love. Professional love. Love in a suit and tie from 9 to 5 that eats brunch with your parents and looks great on a Facebook profile. And your heart dies a little inside while it succombs to the boredom of your spirit.
And then you wander. In a vacuous hole of wavering self-worth and seeming lack of any direction. Through nights with dumb guys and hot girls.. all the while pretending this is what you’re “supposed” to be doing because it’s what everyone else is doing right? And you’re still young-ish and dear god, thank the LORD you didn’t marry that first love because you’d probably be miserable and divorced by now (but secretly you yearn for something as pure and sweet at that was because now everything feels empty and lonely and like it will never mean anything again). And you wonder if you blew it. Or if you’ll every find anyone who will get you. Who you won’t be “performing” for or “settling” for…
And then you’re single. Or maybe in a comfortable relationship that will run it’s course and you wonder if this is your fate. A life with this person. And you sort of give up and resign yourself to knowing that will be it. And this is just how it is. Love is hard. And it’s work and all of that and maybe you’re better off single. Or in a relationship you can tolerate.
And then it happens.
Someone comes in to your life. As a friend usually. Likely someone who is unavailable. So they are safe. Nothing is going to happen. Because they are with someone. Or you are… or you both are. So there’s no guard up. You just let yourself be seen to them, which is totally different than ever before when you were playing the game, or keeping up pretenses or pretending to be happy or tolerating your life. There is vulnerability. Sadness. Reality. And that person finds it beautiful. And suddenly for the first time since you were a kid, you love again with abandon, unafraid of looking stupid or being rejected because it’s safe. This person has really seen you… when you weren’t looking for them and loved you all the same. The good and the bad: the ugly, the amazing, the mean, the graceful, the confident, the scared, the joyous, the insecure, the drunk, the knowing, the wise, the needy, the fun and the complicated… the everything. They have seen it all in you and accepted and LOVED you for (or despite) it all.
And you feel at home. For the first time in a long time, you feel perfectly at home in your own skin. And it’s all the best things of all the ventures before… the childhood love of infatuation and sillyness, the intellectual love that reasons and plans, the wild love of lust and passion, the comfort love of knowing that person has your back- forever.
When you know, you know.
What a dumb phrase and one that is so overused and trite… but each person’s journey there is different. Usually not pretty, not linear, and definitely confusing and heartbreaking – but essential.
So essentially, what does love feel like to me?
Kinetic, warmth, passion, romance, understanding, support, belief, protection, value, compassion, laughter, comfort, joy, healing, family….