I believe in the power of love.
I know that love doesn’t have to be romantic. It doesn’t have to be confined to a magical three words spoken either with caution or with carelessness. For as long as I can remember, I have felt safe. Safety, for me, is the essence of love: my mom’s warm hand when I got my ears pierced, knowing she and my dad were awake all of those nights when I feared kidnappers, the joy of spending time with the friends I have had my whole life.
My family is actually large, but I have often felt alone. My mom’s eight siblings live throughout California, my grandmother in New Mexico, my dad’s family three hours away. My home is an intimate town on the edge of Nebraska where most of my friends’ parents and grandparents went to school together, and I wish that I could claim that sense of belonging. When I do see my distant family, the love is almost tangible. I could savor it, I could where it like a perfume, I could wrap it around me like a blanket. I know it’s there.
The love that I feel for the people I have around me is not the same love that I hear about in songs, read about in books, and witness on Friday nights at the movie theater. Now, in eighth grade, my friends have reached a point where their boyfriends mean something to them. Between hugging and kissing and texting, they use the words “I love you” like I use “what’s up?” and “hello.” I don’t fear those first three words; I fear that they are without meaning. Junior High relationships last weeks, sometimes days. They end with a text message. They end on Valentine’s Day, if you are dating a jerk. They end in the halls, all the time, at football games, on Mondays, at recess, at lunch, on your birthday. They end, just like my parents’ relationship ended several years ago, one of many in America.
No, I am not afraid of love. Fear is the opposite of love. I know that most relationships don’t last, but I’ll take my chances. What if Elizabeth Bennett had been too afraid to love Mr. Darcy? What if Bella Swan had stayed away from Edward Cullen? What if Romeo had listened to his parents and forgotten about Juliet?
I believe in love, whether it is apple-pie-from-my-grandma’s-oven love or first-night-at-the-move-theater-with-a-boy love. Love is my own; love is everyone’s.
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