Love is so many, many things

I just heard the best, most wonderful news EVER — Call Me By Your Name is getting a sequel at the end of October and the news has warmed me from the inside-out. If you’ve yet to read the book or see the movie, I envy you because that means you get to enjoy both again for the first time. In both the novel and its adaptation onto film, Love is a lead character along with Oliver and Elio, and written in a way that reminds the reader that love is never just one thing.

When I first moved to the New York City I had just gotten out of a long-term relationship and was single for the first time in my 20s. Until then, I had felt that when people talked about love, while there were countless types of loving relationships one could have, the ultimate love one was supposed to seek was romantic. It was the creme de la creme, the penthouse suite, the first class of relationships, and the one you were expected to want the most, to work on the most, and to envision defining your future happiness. And to that *hits mic and clears throat* I CALL BS! Hear me out.

In my years as a single single lady, perhaps the greatest thing I’ve had the opportunity to learn is that love comes in all shapes, sizes, shades, forms, and ways. Romantic love is wonderful, is there anything better than seeing your crush’s little name pop up on your phone? It’s like having a firework show go off in your stomach. But to make us all feel like romantic love is the end-all-be-all of love is not giving ourselves and our relationships enough credit.

For me over the last five years, I’ve learned that love is friendship, it’s family, it’s little acts of kindness towards strangers. Love is making people feel seen and heard, and allowing myself to receive the same in return. Because I’ll be honest, I’m all heart. I smother the people I love with Love and there are few things that make me happier. Being honest and open and truthful about how I feel is the core that drives my connections — and drives my writing.

But in coming more and more into myself, and more confident with sharing my feelings with others, I’ve also had to learn how to navigate love languages that appear so different than mine. It’s humbling. Because everyone’s love language is not sending-love-notes, wearing-their-heart-on-their-sleeve, saying-how-they-feel-all-the-time like me. Sometimes it’s quieter, sometimes it’s louder, but once I’ve started taking the time to see how Love, with a capital L, shows up in the world around me, it’s given me a little bit more hope in humanity and made my heart grow about 11 sizes bigger.

While we all know that love is patient, love is kind, etc. etc., it’s also so much more than that. And while I don’t know a lot about a lot of things, I do know these handful of things about Love.

  • Love is teaching yourself how to do makeup and paint nails so you can visit your mum’s nursing home and make her feel beautiful. (Still one of my favorite memories of my dad and grandma.)
  • Love is telling your friend to text you when they get home even though they live down the street.
  • Love is writing your Grandma a letter every Sunday so she’ll have something to look forward to during the week.
  • Love is our family avocado tree.
  • Love is offering the last dumpling and the first spoonful off the top of a fresh ice cream container.
  • Love is many times just listening and not trying to fix the problem.
  • Love is this face when you’re telling a story.

  • Love is celebrating, with balloons and handmade invitations, your loved one’s accomplishments and it’s also showing up at their house unannounced on a Wednesday, with blueberry donuts, to remind them on their most average, human day that they’re radiant.
  • Love is cutting out newspaper articles and cartoons for your granddaughter and mailing them across the country “just because.”
  • Love is care packages and post-it notes left behind.
  • Love is making the distance between long-distance friends feel just a little bit smaller.
  • Love is puzzling at 9pm and paddling at 9am.
  • Love is not asking big life questions before the second cup of morning coffee.
  • Love is knowing your loved one’s coffee/tea orders by heart.
  • Love is a little hand squeeze, or big hug, but mostly it’s knowing when your friends are huggers and when they are certainly not.
  • Love is setting up boundaries that allow yourself the space to recharge.
  • Love is patience through the snappy, cloudy, off days that set in.

  • Love is living room art that is created because it makes you so happy.
  • Love is snuggles with furry friends.
  • Love is not knowing what to say in the face of someone’s grief but showing up or sending that text of support anyways.
  • Love is singing the Rainbow Connection on a porch.
  • Love is patiently cooking a turkey for six hours on Thanksgiving in a tiny apartment with three humans and two cats.
  • Love is building bonfires and grabbing your friend’s favorite beer.
  • Love is your loved one to slow dance when there is no dance floor.
  • Love is just letting me read.