On Love, an Étude of Impressions
Through the trials and tribulations that the transition of adolescence to adulthood usually brings, I have become prone to analyzing aspects that this coming-of-age period often offers. In particular, I have found myself coming back to the question, “what is love?” More specifically, in the context of what “love” means to me, and how it has changed in the past few years.
If you were to ask me two years ago, as a college freshman, if I had ever been in love, I would have confidently said ‘yes’ with no hesitation. I would have told you that I fell in love in the back of a record store in the middle of January.
I was 17. I was young and I had stardust in my veins, and glitter in the wits of my eyes. I would have told you that he was my first love.
So, here’s what happened, if you must know, because maybe you can learn a thing or two.
Because I sure as shit did.
We were together for a few months, during which I swore I was falling for him… hard. The feeling was mutual, or at least I think it was, from what I can recall. Timing got in the way and clouded his perception of commitment. He was a year older and was headed to college in the fall. The label “boyfriend” essentially gave him cold feet, so I cut him off. I didn’t want to waste my time with someone who didn’t know whether or not they wanted to commit to me.
So I did the logical thing.
I dated his best friend. For two years.
The funny thing is that I never think of him - the best friend, that is. I spent two years with him, and I honestly didn’t learn anything worthwhile. The former, well that was something else.
This isn’t about him, but about him. For the sake of concealing identities, let’s call him Ben.
Life got tricky, as it usually does. We ended up crossing paths again in college. Ben was different, and it was clear him and I had chosen separate paths. We decided that it was best to just remain cordial acquaintances. College marked a fresh start for the both of us, and we just didn't have space for each other in our new lives. We agreed to be friendly with each other. Sometimes, you need to burn bridges to stop yourself from crossing them again. And he was a bridge that needed to go up in flames. I poured the gasoline, he lit the match.
Time has since passed, and we have gone on even further with our lives. We don’t even acknowledge each other's presence.
To be quite honest, he started it. It’s a childish statement, I know. I am all one for remaining friends, in fact, one guy I used to date is one of my best friends. However, Ben decided to play the “dead” game.
His loss. That’s what you have to tell yourself. Over and over again, because it’s true. Ladies, it’s their fucking loss. Repeat it. Repeat it. Repeat it until you believe it. Once you do it enough, it eventually becomes real.
The thing is, people come and they go. And life doesn’t stop for anybody. We have a choice to view this natural cycle as a morbid one, moping around, feeling bad for ourselves. However, I learned that life is much more pleasant when you stop acting as though you’re living in a romantic dramedy.
People say that time heals all wounds. And it's been a long time. So much so that it has me thinking, “Why the fuck am I writing about him?”
The thing is, as a writer, you channel into your personal life as inspiration. After honing my academic focus in on writing – declaring my major in English – I learned that one thing that I write about well is my past. I mean, really well. It’s where I go to gather my inspiration. So, this particular person from my past, Ben, is worth my putting ink to paper because he taught me about where to look in a time of heartbreak, as a means of moving on and getting over.
So here it is: I got over him by realizing that he isn't the same person that held my affection almost three years ago. When you’re broken up with someone, it’s easy to look back at the good times.
That’s where we – women – go wrong. Instead, I urge you to look at the person they are currently. Would you love that person today? Because the fact of the matter is, people change. And often, those characteristics that you once fawned for, are long gone, into the great abyss that is passed romantic relationships.
That’s what he taught me.
Ladies, I don’t give a flying fuck if your ex has the body of Adonis and is unbelievable in bed. Focus on the person he is now. More importantly, focus on the way he treats you now, as a person from his past.
If he acts as though you are nothing, like this “Ben” does to me, don’t ever think that that is what you are.
When we first crossed paths, I was on the cusp of womanhood and curious to see what lay behind the velvet curtain of the “relationship show.” When I peeked through, there he was. I saw the – well, that’s for me to know and for him to wonder. Now, I couldn't tell you what I see, because he isn't in my vision anymore, and frankly, I don't care enough to look.
He doesn’t deserve my attention.
What I learned, through all of this and then some, is that you don’t have to feed your heart romance in order to feel love. On the contrary, it’s quite the opposite. At least that's how I see it.
A healthy appetite for love is based on a solid foundation of loving yourself. And you can’t be in a happy relationship until you’ve done that first. Furthermore, you won’t learn to love yourself wholly, while simultaneously loving someone else. Put yourself first. He, or she, can wait. And they will. True love always waits. There’s someone out there for everyone. Whether you find them at 17 or 70…all I know is that they’re out there.
So, what do I feed my heart? Not him - that’s for fucking sure. Anything that makes me genuinely happy. My best friends - my girl gang. Music. Morning runs. Laughter. My family. The list goes on because I have barely lived yet. There is so much out there yet to discover, so many things that make me happy that I don’t even know about. Because right now, your twenties aren't meant to be finding love, but rather, to understand what it means to you.
by Margherita Vricella
Artwork by Casey Meyers