LOVE. The word alone summons up angels and demons and everything in between, depending upon who you are and of course, who said it. My mate says she loves me and I feel warm and fuzzy. My mum says she loves me and I feel secure and appreciated, my lover says he loves me and I feel heady with butterflies, the creep from unit number 32 says he loves me and I feel the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.
When I was a kid I envisioned romantic love as being this fairy tale thing that I just had to have a piece of. I remember being 12 years old with chubby cheeks and a very shy disposition and all I could think about was the day I would find my first love. The idea of holding hands, being exclusive, just well, liking each other was enough ammunition for me to daydream for hours, missing out on useful algebraic equations in math class. I guess I just didn’t feel like I was enough, that a part of me was missing. I would watch the other puberty-sickened kids at school coupling off in the playground, awkwardly French kissing in front of the lockers and thinking about how left behind I felt. Why didn’t I have long silky hair, big eyes and swollen breast glands like the prettiest girls in my class? They always seemed to have the cute boys hanging off their every word.
It wasn’t until I was about halfway through my thirteenth year that I finally edged a little closer to my dreams. His name was Paul; he was gorgeous with his bowl cut straight blonde hair and big white teeth. His best mate asked me out, on behalf of Paul of course. Nobody actually asked anyone out directly. I coyly said yes, with a great deal of effort to remain composed and keep my aura of “cool,” of which I painfully had few shares in being the chronic new kid. The courting period of our time together consisted of a brief terrified glance from across the playground and on a rare occasion, a smile. Once we actually spoke to each other. I think I remember saying hello and he said hi back. It was a deep and passionate affair.
I remember there came a time after several tempestuous weeks of this dreamy relationship that I decided to call it quits. Our relationship had its share of ups (the time we smiled at each other in physical education class because Mr Field’s coin slot was showing) and its downs (the time he teased me in front of his friends so he could add some more “cool” to his quota). I had matured in my understanding of what I wanted in a man. Poor Paul had to go. It was an emotionally traumatic break up; my best mate told his best mate, who told Paul, who shrugged and continued his game of playground footie. And that was that.
My romantic relationships have moved on a bit since then. Now my understanding of romance actually involves physical touch, direct communication and quality time spent together. I’m such a world away from that 13-year-old girl with the innocent misdirection of youth and the preoccupation with playing it “cool.” These days I am grateful for the ability to look back and see how far emotionally I have come. At my wise old age of 35, I have the skills, knowledge and expertise to have a deeply satisfying relationship, even superior to the ones I was having at age 25. In fact, I would imagine that when I am 45 I will have an even better toolbox for my relationships.
Love is a marvellous word and it’s thrown around an awful lot. Actually knowing and understanding the essence of what it truly means is rare amongst many. When I was 13, love was an external thing I had to find. It was often reserved for my daydreams because my reality was incomplete. However, l It’s the amalgamation of those two people that makes it romantic love. That’s when the fun starts. So I thank my young naïve self for all she has taught me.
Now, I live every day in love. I’m in love with my very existence and with the existence of every other being that has been blessed with life. I am complete on my own and as I walk the walk and talk the talk, I see miracles happen every day. How can I love someone else if I can’t love myself? We are all made of the same stuff – this thing called love.