I believe in love. This was the promise I made to myself when my parents divorced: I will not stop believing in love. It’s not easy. When you’re 18 years old and you want to tell everyone to believe in love, people pity you for being naïve, as if love is too simple an idea for such a complicated world. People think that at 18 you have no idea how complex the world really is.
Here’s the thing. I know divorce. I was 16 when my parents split, and I could see how powerful words and perceptions are. Once dad is labeled “the optimist” and mom is labeled “the pessimist”, there’s no common ground. When dad says, “Don’t worry, it’ll be OK,” in mom’s world he’s being ignorant of her problems. When mom says, “Look, I really need you to tell me what time you’ll be home” she’s being distrustful. Hey mom, maybe dad’s just trying to comfort you. Hey dad, maybe mom just cares about you. There’s no external force at work here. Just two people not understanding.
And it’s not just my parents. Among my aunts and uncles, I’ve witnessed four more divorces. I can’t help wondering if I inherited the “divorce gene” that seems to run in this family. If that didn’t get me, surely I drank whatever’s in the water that accounts for 41% of marriages in America ending in divorce. But I refuse to believe that divorce is my fate. Because love is not a matter of fate, it is not some greater force that I cannot comprehend, it’s what I do or do not do.
I have my first boyfriend now. It’s not easy. I’m away at school, so most of the time we just have to talk on the phone. Miscommunications are especially likely, and sometimes it can feel like the stars are not aligned, or that Cupid decided he made a mistake, or that our different situations are just too much. But after a little bit of talking, a lot of listening, and even more believing in each other, it always turns out that the stars, Cupid, and the situation have no say. If we want to be in love with each other, that’s up to him and me.
The world is complicated, and that is exactly why people need love. Love is the solution to difficulty and pain, because love is not in the hands of the situation. It rests entirely in the power of two people, and those two people alone have the power to create or destroy their love. In the end, maybe love isn’t that easy, but it is that simple. In the end, maybe all love really needs to survive is for a naïve 18-year-old to shout defiantly: I BELIEVE IN LOVE! And leave it at that.
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