I thought I knew
When I was seventeen, I thought I knew what love was. Love was the boy who asked me to prom after meeting me for the first time in a soiree. You know the soiree: the little party your high school class sets up with a class from the neighboring boys’ school, in the hopes of finding a date just in time for prom. Love was the boy who took the same course I did in college a year later. He looked different, but held the same softness he had back when I first met him. I could tell Love told his mother about me, because when I hitched a ride with them on the way home, she glanced at me sitting in the back seat of their car and whispered to him, “Is that her?” Love visited me at home and met my mother. He even took me home to meet his. Love had wonderful sisters who treated me like the big sister they never had. But then love changed. Love chose his friendship with a girl he had known for only a month over what we had. Love made me cry.
When I was nineteen, I thought I knew what love was. Love was the tall, dark and handsome stranger I met at a party. Love brought me home and we stayed up the whole night talking. When love brought me burgers and fries for the first time, he met my mother and charmed her socks off. Love would call up at midnight and we’d talk until the sun came up. He would ask me to get lunch with him, but never dinner. Love would spin pretty words that made my head swim. Love would tell me I was the smartest girl he knew. But love was never available. Love broke my heart when I learned he had an on-and-off girlfriend. Friends would warn me about love, but I never listened. I thought if I waited long enough, love would realize I was the one he should be with. But love never did. I waited three years.
When I was twenty-two, I thought I knew what love was. Love was the boy I sat next to in histology class. It was a hot day and I had a cold. Love tore off the back cover of his Green Apple notebook and fanned me with it. Love was handsome. He was fair and lean. Love had a dimple on his cheek when he smiled. Love was funny too; he made jokes that made me burst with laughter. Love became my study buddy. Love was fun to talk to. Love was kind. But love was jealous. In time, his jealousy overpowered his trust in me, in us.
When I was twenty-three, I thought I knew what love was. Love was tougher this time. Love adored my dog and my dog adored him. But love always told me what to wear even if it wasn’t what I wanted. Love made me change the color of my hair. Love would hold me close at night, but he would rarely hold my hand. Love would make me feel like I always did something wrong. He would give me the cold shoulder without ever telling me why. Love never wanted to take a picture with me. Love didn’t like my friends and did what he could to distance me from them. Love had an ex-girlfriend who did everything she could to get him back even when he was with me. Love made me meet him at a restaurant just to break up with me. When he found me in the restroom calling up a friend, love grabbed my phone and threw it in the toilet in the men’s room.
When I was twenty-four, I didn’t know what love was.
But one night, in a bar, I met a boy with the same name as me. He sat by my side the whole night and at the end of it, he sent me a message on Facebook saying we should hang out again. I replied, agreeing. I didn’t hear from him for a month.
It was a Tuesday when I swung by that bar again. I had a long day at work and I decided I needed a drink to unwind. I heard a loud voice call my name. I looked around and who do I see – but the boy with the same name as me. I joined the table where he sat, and at the end of the night, he asked for my number. He was friendly, yes, but I didn’t allow myself to get too close. After all, who finds love in a bar?
But the boy with my name asked me to see a movie with him at his house, and I went. He kissed me that night. The next day, I expected never to hear from him again. But I did. I kept waiting for the drop, for the disappearing act I had become so used to. Yet he always surprised me.
The boy with my name, as it turned out, was love all along. Whatever I knew of love in the past was not love. Love is kind. Love makes me smile. Love trusts me. Love wants me as I am. Love never makes me change myself to suit him. Love believes in me. Love holds my hand wherever we are. Love wants to have breakfast, lunch and dinner with me. Love adores my dog and my dog adores him. Love likes my friends and they like him too. Love does not have the prettiest words, but he has the most honest ones. When I ask him why I didn’t hear from him in a month, he would jokingly say he left it up to destiny. Destiny didn’t disappoint.
To borrow Rupi Kaur’s words, “You may not be my first love, but you are the love that makes all other loves seem irrelevant.”
Louise, 26, works in marketing for a chain of Filipino food stores. Her interests include traveling and writing.
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