Tag Archives: what love feels like

Catch the Light

I have always loved the magic of lights.


Exposed bulbs strung from wood beamed ceilings, mason jars with Christmas lights tucked inside, the bird’s eye view of a city below illuminated house by tiny house on a Friday night. It reminds me that no matter the miles, we’re all fragile human beings, bumbling around trying to connect and shine bright in each others’ hearts.

A tomboy at heart, my childhood summers were spent running through the hills and valleys of my neighborhood, reaching for lightning bugs. They were always too far out of my grasp. But the energy, the sprinting, the hope that I might be quick enough? I loved it.

Now, when I pull up to my parent’s house at night, if I’m coming to visit for the weekend, it’s the shine of the front living room lamps, my dad sitting on the striped gold and red sofa. It’s the glow of a TV coming through the front windows, the ball game playing softly through the glass panes. That is a house lived in. That is love in a glass jar.


The night before I signed up for Match.com, I sat atop my pub height kitchen table in men’s sweatpants and sobbed. Sorry that I couldn’t adjust to life in a new city. Sorry that my guilty pleasure was watching movies where Girl Meets Boy and they fall in love, and out of love, and back in again.

I was embarrassed on that cherry wood table. Love felt magical then, like a lightning bug to be chased at eight thirty, the sun finally shutting its eyes for the evening. It felt like this possibility, if I grabbed my mason jar quick enough and stood just the right distance away and caught it.

So, with the promise of love so deep it hurts, and makes you grow, and become brave, I joined Match.

Last night, in my future brother-in-law’s garage, at midnight, the moon aglow behind us, J and I talked to his brother’s friend about love. “I told J, ‘Not everyone loves like us, you know? This is something special’,” I told her in that garage.

She told us about her boyfriend, a man who’s traveling to exotic beaches and sending her photos each morning, “Good morning, Jamie” etched in sand. She said not everyone does that.

We know it’s true. We talked about people who stop and see the world, who know what they have and hold tight, who appreciate the small moments. We talked about the feeling you get when you know you’ve got something good, when you want to spend the rest of your life by their side. And the glow, the light inside, the spills over and out of you, so that others see it too – that love is a spectrum and we are far, far on the generous side.

“I can see it on your faces,” she told us. “And in the pictures you post online.”

There is a glow, that all of us should be so lucky to have, that sits inside of us when we see an old, beloved friend, or a favorite cousin, or a baby brother. It’s the light that guides us home, the light that keeps us going, that tells us to try again, that pushes us toward our infallible dreams, that propels us through tough times.

Next summer, I’ll be lucky enough to stand in front of a man who loves me more than I could ever hope, who sees the good and bad and all the in-between moments, and see that same light shining back.

And the only thing that makes me happier than that is seeing that same moment for all of the people I care most about, for their shining light, for the lightning bug they so desperately want to catch, whatever it is – a book they’ve been writing, a job they’re searching for, a place to call home, a person to come home to.

Whatever it is, tonight & every night, I hope they that light.

And then you're wondering if you're going to end up in love forever or just for this week.

The first time I fell in love, I knew before he even approached my doorstep. I hadn’t seen him in ten days and still I ran down the basement stairs to my mother’s office and begged her to feel my forehead. Begged her to tell me if I was going to be sick.

That’s what falling in love felt like: an overwhelming nausea wrapped up inside my tiny body because I hadn’t eaten a real meal in ten days. I sat at Applebees and stared down at my chicken fingers and French fries. The only thing that looked edible on that plate was the ketchup.

He was in a third world country, tending to children in a hospital. And I was in suburban America, complaining to my best friend that the food was too greasy, my stomach too sensitive.

I did not fall in love in Applebees, though. I think that happened somewhere in the middle of the street outside his house, my fingertips wrapped around his ribcage, my best friend’s SUV circling the neighborhood so we could have five more minutes to say goodbye when we’d only just begun to say hello.

When you’re eighteen, you think it’s going to take a century to get to next week. And then it comes, sneaks up on you, and suddenly you’re sitting—no, perching—on your own family room couch arm because you’re afraid to sit next to the boy whose lips touched yours last month. You’re saying something stupid about a movie you grew to hate, a movie that, like your crazy mind, kept coming back to the beginning and starting over.

You’re not in control. You down about sixteen glasses of water both because you think you’re going through menopause and you can’t seem to shake the constant hunger pangs because it’s been weeks since you had a real meal.

And then you’re wondering if you’re going to end up in love forever or just for this week. You’re wondering how much of you you have to give for it to be enough for him. It starts feeling like a bargaining game, like you’ve set up a Monopoly board and you keep landing on his hotels and he keeps wiggling those beautiful fingers at you, waiting for you to fork over a couple hundred dollars to pay for what you didn’t even mean to do.

That’s love. That’s the reason you break up with him and feel bad about it two days later.

So bad you’re sitting in a diner for three hours—three hours?—wondering where you went wrong and suddenly you’re blaming your mother. Yes, your mother. You’re blaming your mother because it’s her fault you fell in love.

It’s the first time we ever said what we wanted to say, the last time we had a conversation that didn’t detour like those roundabouts in New Jersey. It’s a shame it came when we were only six percent through with our relationship. That other ninety-four percent didn’t feel great compared to that one Thursday afternoon.

I don’t think either of us ate dinner that night. I sat on my best friend’s treadmill for half an hour, stretching intervals to pull the taut runway with my feet instead of turning it on. He leaned against her pool table and pretended I didn’t exist.

And I didn’t. Not really.

That was the tip-off. Our healing began with a bodybuilder machine built like a winter sled, me playing around, pulling myself and my friend up, him watching us act absurd. It was like learning to flirt all over again.

And you know what?

I still haven’t figured it out.

But that’s OK. For some reason, that’s totally OK with me. Because I figure I’ll have just as much fun learning with whoever decides to give me my next stomachache.

[Photo credit]

Down the street there resides a Bed, Bath & Beyond with enough Beyond to keep us from hiding out in beds and baths.

My blue and green paisley rain boots broke last Wednesday, flooding a sea of smelly sewer water and pothole puddles up through the rubber and onto my socks.

via weheartit.com

If I’m being honest, it is my own fault. I didn’t know how to lift my feet up when I trudged through campus, instead shuffling along, head bent down, succumbing to the wet wind and silent splatters of rain flicking into my eyes and my hair.

I did not put up a fight. Did not raise my knees high enough. Did not tell the world to give me one more chance to stomp all over it in my bright boots with swirling streaks of hope for this messy world.

If I had, those boots would’ve made their way past another long spring with enough gallons of water to successfully satisfy the thirst of an African village somewhere south of Kenya.

For that, I apologize.

My mother sent me a message from the passenger seat of her car the next morning.

The text has since mysteriously deleted itself from my phone, but the photograph remains: close up on a pair of black rubber rain boots speckled with blots of orange and pink and green and blue.

That is what love feels like on a brisk Thursday morning when all you need is to get through four more classes, two more days, and four hours alone in the car with only a Taylor Swift CD to keep you company.

They say love makes up for a lot. Love makes up for the soggy socks in a health center waiting room when the only comfort is that you can peel them off in a matter of one more hour.

It hasn’t rained in a week. That’s God laughing at me for thinking I can just walk a little faster, lift my knees a little higher, and keep my chin up this time.

Lessons are not learned the first time around. Puddles are not skirted the second time it pours. Umbrellas break under the weight of the wind.

The world is imperfect, chaotic, constantly pushing us down into the mud to see if we’ll get back up again. It tells us to find the dry path, to walk underneath the wide breadth of a maple tree, to seek shelter from the storm.

But we know better. We know that down the street there resides a Bed, Bath & Beyond with enough Beyond to keep us from hiding out in our beds and baths.

And in that Beyond there are rubber boots with lime greens and aqua blues, deep maroons and light lilacs. Swirls of reds and orange, paint splattered on black and white. Cheetah print and leopard spots. A whole array of solid rainbows. All of it for us to stand up against the wet socks and dripping hair and sticky sweatshirts. All of it to remember why we go outside.

The world arms us with enough reasons each day to sit in the windowsill and watch the fat drops of dew collect outside without ever having to stand against it. Sometimes, all you need is one reason to step outside.