Ah, the mystery of true love.
Everyone—and I do mean everyone—is always trying to analyze it and break it down for us dumb old humans to better understand.
Is real love selfless or selfish?
Is it kind while simultaneously being honest?
What is love anyways?
First, let me tell you what I think love isn’t.
Love isn’t always patient or kind or anything else pretty to write about (even when you desperately want it to be).
Do you know what it is, though?
Real love is always safe.
I’ve been with my partner for twenty years—through angsty adolescence and the birth of our child-rearing years.
We’ve moved around together and changed careers.
We’ve helped each other build our dreams—and reminded the other why they were worth reaching for when we felt too low to look up wistfully at the clouds.
In essence, he makes me feel safe—like my home base.
Sure, sometimes we get on one another’s nerves.
I have a propensity to be a bitch, and he has the tendency to let me be—right up until he can’t stand it anymore.
Then we sulk and pout or, worse, hash it out, and then, of course, we make up and kiss and are lovey-dovey once again.
So, yeah, I don’t think real love is always cutesie and easy—because being a human being isn’t usually these things either.
We’re not Biblical superheroes.
We might try—we might aim for that loving perfection—but we’ll repeatedly fall short because we’re living, breathing, beating hearts not perfect red shapes on Hallmark cards.
I think love is many things, which is part of what makes it so hard to define and dissect and package up with a nice-looking bow for everyone to know they’ve found exactly the right thing when it appears on the door step. I think this is true because, fortunately and unfortunately, people don’t fit into these easily organized boxes.
We crave change and newness, but then we nearly never know what to do with it when we actually get it.
Some people adore the chase—those exciting, hormonal sensations of striking flint and finding flinging sparks—and in my never-humble opinion, these are the people who are less likely to find real love.
Because love settles.
The fire diminishes into embers that rekindle and flare up occasionally, but that initial scary spurt of flames isn’t quite the same, but don’t worry, there’s a reason for this—and the reason is that love is safe.
It’s cozy and it keeps you warm when the world is cold and harsh and bitter.
Sometimes that fire flares up seemingly to burn you.
You become afraid of love because you discover that it can hurt too (even when it works out and falls back into that Goldilocks setting of “just right”).
What is “just right?”
To me, love is perfect when you find someone whose imperfections mesh and blend with yours.
True love expects rocky, uncomfortable moments and it is patient in the sense that it knows you’ll climb over this difficult terrain and eventually wind up sitting on top of the hill in the soft light of the peach and purple sunset smooching.
Love knows that these imperfect passes make the more blissful ones that lie ahead that much sweeter.
And when my husband irks me and I bother him, I still feel protected.
I feel secure enough to adventurously explore the rest of my life.
I guess in a way, love is selfish because it allows you to be you while still being an us.
Yet it’s also selfless because you have to always be willing to give 110 percent.
Because that’s another thing about love—it’s not 50/50.
Sometimes it’s 60/40 or 90/10—and sometimes it feels 100/0—but you still can’t keep score.
Because at the end of the day, love is your home base.
It’s where you go because you want to run there—with the crisp wind on your pink cheeks, hair sailing behind you, salty sweat on your upper lip—you want to run there into open arms that make you feel free from harm.
Because love is safe—even when it’s also a mountain full of other things—it’s still always that.
“The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.”
~ Maya Angelou