Love is and always will be complicated. When I was in grade school, we learned a simple lesson in class.
“There is a limited amount of water on earth,” my teacher said, pointing to the chart painted on the dry erase board. “Used water is eventually added to the water cycle again for reuse. That means water from lakes, rivers, oceans, and other bodies of water evaporate, this vapor condenses into the clouds, which then causes rain. There is no new water, all that is, is all there ever was.”
Everyone has the ability to love, to love more than one being, to love over and over again after being heartbroken so many times. In this way, love is not so different from water. When one relationship ends, love is not lost but through a lengthy process will be recycled and become available for reuse. But sometimes love isn’t recycled, it is frozen in time like water that makes up a glacier; this is the kind of love that is permanent, that stays with you your entire life.
It is hard to determine a straight definition for love, there isn’t a guidebook to help you figure it out, but if there is anything that I’ve learned it is that you can always love again.
In my twenty-one years on this earth thus far, I can count the number of times that I have felt love with one hand. When I reflect on what I have learned about love, what people have taught me about love, four men come to mind. Some of these men are still in my life, some are not. Some I only catch a glimpse of. I do not regret any of my interactions with these individuals as I feel that I have learned so much from even the smallest of interactions. Everyone has a story to share, this is just a sliver of mine because this is what I love to do. I love to share stories, share my history because maybe someone needs to read this, someone can learn something from a few chapters of my life.
My first lesson begins with the very first man who taught me about love. Love=fighting. An indisputable fact: couples will fight. When he found himself in a fight, most nights he was sleeping downstairs on the sofa. When he found himself in a fight he never got violent, never raised his voice. He did all that he could to remedy situation, to diffuse the argument quickly. In my adolescent eyes, my dad was a hero when it came to handling arguments with my mom. Through his actions he taught me that when you love someone, you respect them and you do not hurt them, physically or emotionally. He also indirectly taught me that love is imperfect. There is no perfect love. Though love for a child and romantic love are vastly different, I think that some parallels can be made. You should never intentionally hurt your child physically/emotionally. My father is a good man and while he would never hurt my mom, I was a different story. I am positive he never intended to hurt me, but he did. I can recall one time he shoved me so hard I fell back and knocked over a chair before I hit the ground. I can recall multiple occasions when his hand would shoot out and wrap around my neck, I could hardly breathe. For a long time, I idealized my dad thinking that he was the best, which he was when things were going well. Even when you love someone, you are still capable of hurting them, doing them wrong. At the end of the day, everyone is human and fallible in their own way. We are all mortals on this earth who experience happiness and sadness, anger and love, patience and frustration, but it is up to each individual to never let negative emotions take over, to the point that they lose control and do something to hurt the person they love the most.
Fifteen. I was in my sophomore year when I met him. For the life of me, I cannot remember how we actually met, but it really isn’t important. From the moment we met, we were always in constant contact. From the age of six to eighteen I was enrolled in a private Christian school, so someone like Joey, a bad-boy if you will, intrigued me greatly. He seemed to have such an exciting and fast paced life, but was very emotional. One thing about me that can be seen as both positive and negative is that I am very sympathetic, to a fault. Our relationship was by most definitions romantic, although no title was ever given. We talked all the time about us, how much we liked each other. Whenever I thought about our relationship, I would internally conclude that I was in love with him, though I never revealed that to him. Over time our conversations became less flirty and romantic and more negative. For example, Joey did not have a lot of friends to hang out with and I would always offer to spend time with him, to which he would decline, saying my company was not enough. Joey was always sad, something was always bothering him and I thought that if I talked to him enough, let him vent, that I could fix him, that somehow I could help him. No matter how many conversations we had about what was bothering him, the result was the same: nothing changed. Eventually I found myself becoming affected by his demeanor, I found that I was sad more frequently for no reason whatsoever. But I thought that I loved him, so it didn’t matter, that was until he casually told me that he had a crush on this girl and wanted her to be his girlfriend. I remember how confused I felt in that moment, I remember thinking “if he likes her, then what I am I to him?” Joey taught me that love is never guaranteed to be reciprocated. No matter how hard you try, you can’t coerce someone to fall in love with you.
Our first date, I made him park at the end of my street as to not wake my parents. He took me to see a scary movie. He was a very kind person, kind to me and everyone he interacted with. He was funny, smart with great grades. By our third date, I knew him well enough to know that he had a variety of amazing qualities: generous, kindhearted, sweet, caring. But there was no spark. At this point, we had set a good foundation for friendship; we spoke all the time, sent each other memes, tagged each other in posts on social media. Even though he was a good guy, had great qualities, I had to stop dating him for the simple fact that there was no magic. I know full well that fairy tales don’t exist but a relationship without any spark, any magic is doomed in my opinion. Johnathan taught me that sometimes a person can embody all the qualities that you think that you’re looking for, they can look perfect for you on paper, but they just aren’t the person for you.
I could write a novel about this man, an underdog of sorts. The way we initially met is unique to say the least, I can say with complete confidence that no one has met under the same circumstances. In any case, it was very improbable that we would ever have the chance of crossing paths as I live in California and him in Indiana, but it happened. I was seventeen when I met Jordan and my life has not been the same since. Three months of talking constantly, he quickly became my closest friend; soon after he became my boyfriend and best friend. Jordan taught me that love knows no distance. Even though the majority of our relationship was spent 2,122 miles apart, we still fell in love and the love we shared was just as strong as anyone else’s, maybe even stronger. One time Jordan came to visit me and when the time came for him to go to the airport for his flight back home, tears streaming down my face I asked him not to leave. I remember so clearly, he told me he wouldn’t go home. He would stay, and live in a cardboard box in a park somewhere; my parents would never let him stay with us and he had absolutely no money, so a box would be his only choice. I laughed thinking that he was joking, I don’t know if you’ve ever laughed in the middle of crying but it’s more like a snorting/choking sound. He told me he was serious, that if I really wanted him to stay, he would. I have no doubt in my mind that he meant it. In that moment, he showed me how selfless love can be; he always told me that he would do anything for me and I don’t doubt it. Jordan taught me that loving someone is no easy feat; being vulnerable and letting someone learn your innermost being is terrifying, but the reward is great because you know that the person you love, loves you for who you truly are. I am aware that love is nothing like movies portray it, it’s not always glamorous, there aren’t romantic montages. Love is hard and honest conversations; love is more than just a good feeling and going on fun dates, it’s sitting down and deciding what direction and tone your relationship is heading. Overall, my relationship with Jordan has mostly taught me that love has the potential to withstand anything. Love is an investment, you get what you put into it, the more effort you put into it, the more profitable and stable it will be.