I do not have a degree in psychology. I do not have any special training on the analysis of human emotions. I have not written any papers, nor have I published any books. Many can argue that because of my sexual orientation, the development of my ability to form mature emotional responses is stunted. It has been eleven years since I found my self, my voice, my identity. I don’t know what my “teen” years hold.
What I do know with immovable certainty: I have lived, and laughed, and loved.
I live with the knowledge that my first love has passed, in every sense of the word. We laughed, bewildered, discovering each other and this strange new world, breaking tradition and refusing to cave in to the pressures demanded of us by society. He loved me until the day he broke my heart. And I loved him until the day he passed away.
I had to learn to live with hidden bruises, to endure a man who I thought would be the last person on earth to take me as I am, and all my emotional baggage. I tried to laugh off the pain, the questions from concerned friends and family members. He loved me when I was nothing – curled up in fetal position, tending to wounds that were both visible and invisible. Until I finally found the gumption to stop his fists from connecting with my body ever again. He taught me a valuable lesson: to love myself, to stop finding my “better half”, because I am whole.
Love isn’t about martyrdom, but rather the ability to discern if his happiness is the source mine. It’s not about sacrifice, but the desire to elicit a sparkle in his eyes. It doesn’t have to be about dousing yourself in expensive cologne, but holding a vanilla pod in your pocket, because she adores the smell of cold ice cream. It’s not about dying for the woman you love, but how life would be unbearable without her.
Love is about long, philosophical conversations on the virtues of selfishness and laissez-faire capitalism. It’s also about giggling uncontrollably when the dog farts. It’s about nights at the symphony, and nights on the couch with a really, really bad movie and wine that comes in a box. It’s about hands accidentally touching, and how that, in and of itself, is electric! Love is the world coming to a stop with a kiss. It’s about your ass sweating, meeting his mother for the first time.
Eventually, love is going to be about soccer games and choir practice and girl scouts and sleep overs. It will be about grounding a mangy teenager for failing Spanish because of his lazy friends and for the umpteenth time will she put on something more than underwear before she heads out to the mall with hers. Love will be about hiding in the dark, watching her come home from a first date. It will be about him asking for advice on how to pop a question, and you remember how, thirty years ago, you were just as jittery when you were down on one knee.
Love is watching him sleep, drawing strength from the rhythmic rise and fall of his chest; gaining inspiration from his smile, the way he wrinkles his nose or furrows his forehead. How his voice moves you to conquer empires. Love is about feeling his heart beat next to yours, even from half a world away.
Yes, I do know some things with immovable certainty: I have lived, and laughed, and loved.
And I am eternally grateful for that gift.