Love has taken on such a different meaning for me as I’ve gotten older. When I was younger I was such an unashamed, hopeless romantic; embarrassingly so. I would moon out of raindrop covered car windows at the night sky and sigh onto the glass, draw a wobbly heart in the patch of cloudy condensation and moon some more. Hilarious. I watched The Notebook more times than I care to admit and I can still pretty much quote the entire film word for word. I scribbled heartfelt quotes onto the badly painted inside of my wardrobe and I pined wholeheartedly after Edward Cullen who was the absolute love of my life and nothing could take him away from me until Jacob cut his hair off and I realised that tanned and buff was far better than pale, skinny and sparkly.
In my early teens I was so desperate for a boyfriend. I’d waste hours fantasizing about what he would look like, if we would hold hands and if we would be one of those couples who met when they were at school and stayed together forever and ever and ever until the very end of time. When I’d just turned fifteen I was finally granted my wish and had a serious 2-yearer with my best friend at school which fulfilled all my desires to experience love and we were THEE cheesiest couple ever, it was sickly, it was all encompassing, it was great.
But of course all good things come to an end and we both grew up and although it was all very real at the time, and I have no doubts that it was love, it was obviously love in its purest form. No bills to worry about, time consuming careers, children, irritating in laws etc. Just me and him listening to Led Zeppelin, eating chicken goujons (back in my meat eating days) and gazing into each others eyes- just how every good first love story should go.
Although however removed I have currently chosen to be from the romantic side of life, I still like to occasionally view it through a window. Like a late afternoon train journey where it’s raining outside, you have no desire to be stood in it but you can definitely enjoy its beauty from the warm confines of the carriage. I am not turned off by love, in fact I still think it’s the most beautiful thing in the world- I like to see people cuddling and kissing and holding hands, I smile at old couples and cry a bit at the occasional romcom and I get all wistful when I read a well executed quote on love. I just feel so far away from it all, like I’m happy that it’s happening for everyone else but a relationship is just not something that’s meant to be in my life, it’s just not me, genuinely, hand on heart, I am happier and far better off when it’s just me.
But of course I am human and I do enjoy many aspects of love, one of my biggest weaknesses/pros is that I don’t do things halfheartedly. You either have the whole thing or you have nothing at all. I can sometimes dab a little bit, fake it till I make it, but it’s always pretty obviously quite quickly that I’m not in it for the long run. I have a bit of a habit of being like a stereotypical guy when it comes to sex and relationships, unlike a lot of girls I can stay disconnected for quite a long time, not let feelings get in the way of things and accept things for what they are. I enjoy my freedom and will keep things platonic for as long as possible, dreading the day when they come asking for something more. I can be quite cold and extremely uncommunicative but I guess that’s just the hard shell I’ve been building and maintaining for such a long time- I rarely let anyone in.
But I like the companionship you get with love, the having someone who knows everything about you, your family, your characteristics etc. So there’s very little explaining to be done. I like that when you have a conversation you can just say ‘mum’ instead of ‘my mum’ because you both know who mum is. I like that in a crowd of people, even if you’re nowhere near each other, talking or laughing with other people, there is an invisible tie that links you together like magnets, and you know that even if you spend all evening apart at the end of it you’ll be going home together. Ol soppy bollocks over ‘ere aren’t I.
But romantic, sexual love between two people is just one small strand of hair on the head of a momentous emotion. There are more ways of loving, of feeling love, than there are any other type of emotion we posses and despite there being over a quarter of a million words in the English language (supposedly) we STILL struggle to find ways of explaining it. Like a scent, love is personal; everyone omits a different fragrance unique to the individual and when we smell something we like we are attracted to it. Amongst the physical attributes we find buried treasure, a witty, well-timed joke, a vast knowledge of highly important useless crap, the way the room lights up when they walk in, the way they rip into in front of their mates (in jest ofc) but still wink at you and squeeze your hand afterwards.
This is the perfume that appeals personally to me but everyone will have their own personal tastes. And on that note- I can’t stress enough that, girls, we absolutely need to stop slating each other’s choice in men. The amount of times I’ve been embarrassed to show my friends pictures of the guys I’m talking to because I know they’ll say ‘ergh!’ (which is incredibly rude by the way ladies!!!) and it’s not okay at all. If I’ve learnt anything so far in my twenties it’s that you absolutely cannot measure attraction based on looks. The way a person makes you feel, how they care for you, how you laugh together, their confidence, their mannerisms their intellect- these are the things that appeal.
Beauty really is in the eye of the beholder so can we please remember to be polite and show genuine interest in how they are as a person when a girlfriend shows you her man for the first time, even if he’s not your cup of tea because he could be the most smashing bloke around and treat them like a queen and that’s the type of guy you want for your mate, not some tanned Essex boy with perfectly manicured eyebrows who spends more time in front of the mirror than you do.
So I am strongly continuing my well deserved break from dating but what I will never tire of, what will never cease to fill my heart with fire is a vehement lust for life. Oh, how glorious it is. There is nothing more fulfilling than being surrounded by love in every sense of the word. My mum and dad who I love beyond words, my few close friends who love me and check up on me, who never let me down and who help me when others do. I love my job, I don’t think the novelty of working for an environmental research company (without having stepped foot in a college or university might I add) and being paid to travel the world will ever fully wear off.
I love my books, my writing, hummus, peanut butter… I love 60s soul and 70s rock and the Arctic Monkeys. I love early morning exercise before the day has started and coffee in a cosy cafe with my notebook and pen. I love trekking through the mountains, general knowledge trivia, Tom Hanks films, aubergines and new socks. I love scrabble and puppies and hand massages and car boot sales in the summer. Vietnamese food, independent film screenings and passing a rugby ball around. I love the old sailors I look after and my comrades in the bar who never make me feel inadequate or unwelcome. I love that I can leave one country in the winter and arrive five hours later in the sunshine. I love that otters hold hands while they sleep so they don’t drift away from each other. I love swimming in the sea and then basking in the sun like a salty sea bass. I love the burning feeling in my muscles after a good workout. I love making people laugh, I love singing really, really loudly.
But most importantly, I love the way that people love others. The way that love looks, when you can see it, clear as day slapped giddily across somebody’s face. The love that fills you with a warmth like hot honey, flowing through your body and engulfing you. Everything around you melts away and absolutely nothing else matters apart from you and the person, or thing, you love. And to feel it, to close your eyes and feel your whole body pulsate with the reassuring whirr of security, to love and to be loved- there is nothing else. As Walt Whitman simply and accurately put it- ‘we were together. I forget the rest.’