I was in love with her for a long time.
When I was young, I thought I understood love, as we all did. We’re told, though, that this was not what love is. So we ask, what is it then? They assure us that we’ll know when we find it; they can only tell us where not to look.
We won’t find it in those sweaty, panting, gooey, sheet-clenching hours with someone in the dark. That’s just lust, they say. We won’t find it in those shared jokes and air kisses and physical intimacy that begins and ends in a hug. That’s only friendship, they say. And we definitely won’t find it in those lonely thoughts that send us plummeting in glorious freefall into daydreams. That, they say, is a crush.
A crush. The term itself diminishes and purifies the epic scale of our emotions, waving them away as a product of our youth. As our bodies stretched into the shape of the people we were fated to become, we lost control of everything—even our hearts. Placing the responsibility for our feelings into the paws of hormones frees us from them; our feelings are allowed to recede into the past, along with that haircut and the algebra.
But we really liked that haircut. That algebra class choked the life out of us for nine months. And he or she was our entire world.
They tell me that I never really loved her. I listened to them. I wanted to be free. They said that, if I ever needed convincing, all I had to do was see her again. The years she now wears will help strip off the chrome of both the present and the past, and she’ll have always been just a crush.
And then she spoke to me like she always did. She rolled her eyes and pursed her lips and giggled. And then she smiled at me.
They’re wrong. I was in love with her. Because with that smile, why wouldn’t I be?