Until I was ten, my thoughts on love consisted of pink construction paper and empty shoeboxes. Love equaled a day without learning and schoolwork. And I was all for love if that was the case. It was a competition to see who had the best, cutest, most awesome Valentines. I usually didn’t win but I liked mine all the same. Love also meant I had to “love” everybody. Everybody got a card, everybody got a sucker, which was probably the best unspoken rule of the day. It was a conflicting emotion of wanting someone to notice me but also wanting to be utterly invisible. Love was made with tape and glue and paper hearts that were always crooked.
When I was eleven, love was the thing that we talked about a lot in Sunday school. “God loves me” was still explained with arts and crafts that did nothing but make my fingers sticky.
When I was thirteen, I saw love when I walked past my mother’s bathroom mirror and found words written in lipstick: “I love you, baby.” And it was just a plain old Tuesday.
When I was sixteen, love was real sometimes and other times it wasn’t. It became a more fickle creature than I had ever known it to be. I noticed that it seemed to evaporate left and right and I decided I wanted nothing to do with it.
When I was nineteen, I changed my tune. I didn’t mind it for other people, I just wasn’t a fan.
Now I am twenty and I think maybe love is not so bad. If my parents and my grandparents and my great-grandparents and countless others can do it, so can I. Sure, the tape loses its grip and the pink construction paper fades to mauve, but I think maybe, if you’re willing to accept that, love can last forever.