I would like to insist that life is accompanied by a user manual. That way our birth certificates can be bound with all of the experiences we could encounter in life. So as we transition we can recognize them while they happen. Love is a verb I struggled to define before I really experienced it romantically.
I came home to my roommate a year ago today and asked when she knew she was in love with her partner. It was deep into their relationship for her, and here I was just two weeks into getting to know a man who had already confessed his love for me and I was thinking I really loved him.
He hit me with a foul ball plummeting from a universe I was so unaware of. I was ready for him to open up about something difficult when he asked me if he could tell me something without me freaking out, but I couldn’t prepare for the feelings he unleashed. I read the words everyone who has had a crush wants to see, hear, and feel. A man loves me!!! He loves me, yet I froze. So much had happened two days prior and our future felt futile, yet there I was thinking about moving away and falling in love. simultaneously.
I stared down those three words—8 letters—a simple construction of subjects and verb to which I was instantly filled with a pulse of electricity. It radiated from my heart down to my fingers and toes as I read them over and over. When it fell into my stomach the upheaval of emotions I suppressed for most of my life twisted at my innards. They were emotions I had never felt at this intensity and I was nervous.
He overwhelmed me.
My thoughts thrashed violently around my head. I had no idea what I was doing.
ABORT! ABORT! ABORT!
He left me speechless, so that was what I responded with:
“You and making me speechless.”
“Is that bad?”
Then he started backtracking & attempting to explain himself. I felt like he was filling with anxiety because at that exact moment those words were too heavy for me to throw back in his direction. I began to get anxious. I was so unsure what it was that I felt because I didn’t have my user manual handy.
Is that what love is? Feeling lighter than air as you float to the heavens while you simultaneously feel a magnet’s pull, that surpasses a human’s tolerance of g-forces, towards another soul? That you want to black out and throw up from the effects love has on the body? Is love a drug that forced its way into my bloodstream? I was scared to simplify it a year ago, but today I know that was how I first felt our love.
It grew to become something I needed. Soon it just became happiness. It filled me and my days with incredible thoughts. I walked around knowing someone loved me. I barely understood affection before him; hugs and kisses, romance, and the meaning I put to love were all different before him. I stepped into this world and had no intention of leaving. I spent my days telling him what I could not put into words a year ago.
Now I feel empty.
I freely share a love with all. The want to radiate it outwards comes naturally to me. However, this love came at a different rate for him. This love knew no depth—it knew only of infinite goals. This love poured out of me for him. I am yet to find the shut-off valve; I bust at the seems and let it flow from my eyes as I forcibly hide it each day. I feel constrained to only suppress it now. That I have no choice but to bury it alone in the darkness when all I want is to let it free. I am compromising for him.
I spoke to him on the phone a while ago and I said it again. I told him I loved him a month after he broke up me. He said nothing except that he doesn’t know what to say to “that”. Life came full circle. I blurted it out like he did a year ago and like me, he didn’t say it back. I never said it to hear it back when we were together, and I didn’t say it that day to change his mind. I just know I can’t spend my life pretending that I am okay with what we are now.
I feel like a liar if I did.