Love is something that I don't get. There are so many definitions of love -- I, however, can't seem to define it. There are so many ways that people show love -- sometimes it's hard for me to recognize those ways. And sometimes, it's hard for me to grasp that someone actually loves me.
Take physical touch. I don't know what it is about me and physical touch. I go for days and days without it, and I start to forget that it even happens. No hugs, no high fives, no nothing, and it's no big deal. I rarely miss it or seek it out. I just tend to forget about it.
Then out of nowhere someone will scoop me up in a hug or place a gentle kiss on my cheek. It often shocks me, and I'm left standing there looking surprised. Like today -- a family friend who I've known since I was a baby came into PartyLand tonight. She asked me how my dad and my family are doing, and then she asked about me. I gave the usual "I'm fine" answer. All of the sudden she leaned over the counter and gave me a hug, then kissed me on the cheek and told me she loves me.
I was completely thrown off guard, so much so that I could hardly respond. Standing there behind the counter, I felt tears come to my eyes and a voice in my head said, "Oh, yes. That's what it feels like to be loved. That was kind of her."
And then I felt all funny inside, and vulnerable. Lately I've been trying to keep a sort of protective shell around myself when I'm among coworkers and friends (close friends and room mates excluded -- they've figured out how to get through the shell). But I'm beginning to notice that when I'm offered verbal and physical affection from someone, especially someone I don't know very well or see very often, the shell starts to crack.
Knowing that someone loves you is a strange thing -- for me, it's one of the most astounding sensations in the world. I often worry that the people I love don't love me as much as I love them, and that they'll go away (still working on that one). Realizing that someone really cares about me and loves me hits me like a lightning bolt -- the lady at the store literally left me speechless.
Love is a hard thing for me to understand. It's hard for me to explain why -- I'm not even sure that I know. I only know that it's a tricky thing for me, slippery and hard to grasp in my mind. It frightens me -- it keeps me up at night, or wakes me up.
Like last night -- I know I was having a good dream, and that I was with someone who made me happy. I know it was a man, and that we were laughing and having a good time and were happy together. Then, I lost him. He was there one second, and then he was gone. I couldn't find him -- he was just lost. I woke up crying, not really sure why because the details of the dream faded very quickly -- but I felt so scared and so alone. I do remember that it was 4:15 in the morning, and that I haven't felt that devastated in a very long time.
I think I loved the person in the dream. I don't remember who it was. I don't even know if the man was a person that I knew. Losing him, though, was the worst thing ever.
Love. I don't get it. Not just romantic love, either. The dream is just an example of one of the things that worries me. The other loves, like sister, parent, daughter, brother, friend, neighbor, and all of the others -- those worry me, too.
For what is it to love, and to be loved? What is it really?
Hopefully I'll begin to understand it someday.