What is Love?
Creative nonfiction essay by Lynnafred
Last week, my boyfriend of approximately one month told me he loved me. “That’s awfully soon,” was all I thought, and he took my speechlessness as confirmation that I loved him, too. After he left, I sat around for the next couple hours wondering what, exactly, love was. Was it a feeling? Was it something physical? It wasn’t an emotion that I could ever pinpoint, like anger or happiness. Could I ever love another person as much as I could love nachos and beer?
Before I could answer that question myself, I had to think about what other people thought love was. A friend in high school insisted as she flipped her hair over her shoulder that love didn’t exist, and that it was just an illusion that two “worthless, lonely people try to create to find something meaningful.” Another friend of mine, a pretty redhead with a childish face and an impish laugh said one night as she tossed back a beer, “Love is that feeling you get when you look across the bar and you see an unbelievably hot guy and all you can think of is how hard you’d sex that.” In the course of my life, I’d heard that it was just something that Hollywood created, that it was something that outlasted the initial anxiety and adrenaline that newly formed couples dealt with, that it wasn’t something that could be pinpointed. I’d heard that it was something you were hit with when you first caught sight of another person – love at first sight.
Knowing their responses, though, didn’t help me figure out what I thought love was. It just made me think that one of my friends was jaded as a teenager and the other needed to keep her libido in check. I absentmindedly scribbled out what I thought love was and came up with some responses of my own. Some were startling, others were completely ridiculous. None seemed all that serious compared to the things that my friends and family were saying. It seemed that “love” was something that varied from person to person, and that someone’s definition was related to their personality.
I looked back at my list. What did I, the boisterous, joke-cracking, occasionally violent, and sometimes stoic chick come up with? “What is love?” Love is what remains when you wake up in the morning and realize that the sex isn’t awesome anymore, your significant other is roughly the shape of a beluga, and everything seems to repeat in a cookie cutter pattern. Love was the ability to accept that your “better” half had a mole on their face that looks kind of like Carrot Top and not pester them to get it removed. Love was the knowledge that you might end up having to take care of your significant other for the rest of both of your lives, and be completely content and prepared, should that day ever come. Love is the ability to forgive your significant other even when they do something so shortsighted and stupid that it makes your blood boil. Reading through it, I wondered if I really understood the concept of “love” properly. I wondered what my boyfriend thought love was. Worst of all, I wondered if his idea of me would change if he ever read through my list.