If every person is as unique as a snowflake, every relationship is as different and complex as an avalanche. Each one is going to be filled with specific memories, nuanced inside jokes, distinct arguments, and unforgettable lessons associated with that individual.
There have been 6 people in my life, that have taught me my 6 biggest lessons in love. Language lessons, life lessons, letting-go-lessons- whatever the flavor, each of them made a deep impression on my mind and subsequent behavior.
No matter how tragic the end of each relationship, when the smoke started to clear, and I saw the purpose behind that experience- I never saw it as a waste. "I can bear any pain as long as it has meaning."
They were beautiful. Then they were over. And I have nothing but gratitude for my How, What, Where, When, and Why, and Whom.
1. To K, The One Who Taught Me "How"
When I was 16, I met someone who was 1% body and 99% soul.
He was an artist- a painter, a poet, a photographer, musician. And above all, a lover.
He used me as the subject of his talents, transforming this ordinary girl into masterpieces- breathtaking, but unfinished projects that gave dozens of attempts but was never quite satisfied with. “You’re too much to replicate, even imitate. It makes me blissfully frustrated.”
Of course we all have different love languages. Of course making you soup when you're sick and helping you carry your bags are signs of love. I do appreciate the more pragmatic acts.
So no, not everyone who is proficient at expressing their affection has to be an artist. But, personally--
To this day, no other feeling has quite compared to the unparalleled flattery of being someone’s muse.
To quote John Keating (Robin Williams) in Dead Poets Society,
"We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for."
I learned quickly that the way to tap into that passion, to make someone feel the most alive- is to master whatever skills you have in order to create something in their likeness.
When someone makes you feel deeply, you want to do justice to the expression of said feeling. It's almost an insult to yourself, a distressing and irritating affliction when you can't find the right words or ways to articulate that powerful emotion inside of you.
Him writing about me, to me, for me, on me, any preposition + me, catalyzed my insatiable thirst for the most perfect words to depict even the least perfect things. A thirst which persists as strongly as ever to this day (self-evident in this very text).
I could write paragraphs on people upon introduction, never-ending novels lost in infatuation. I've drowned in similes to depict a smile and have instantaneously transcribed laughs into iambic pentameter.
Thank you for loving me with a love that was young, yet far from childish. You taught me how.
The same way he crumbled up pages of sketches and drafted 90% of his words in strikethrough, I have a lot of polishing to do. There is no shortage of what I love, for whom I love. And the quest to compose them is something I gratefully and gladly fail in, often, if it means I'm any closer to the right ones.
Words, words, words. They were the spark and you were the lighter fluid. Thank you for the fire behind everything I write.
2. To Z, The One Who Taught Me "What"
When I was 18, I fell for a friend who surpassed me by decades in maturity, which was both a blessing and a curse.
It was a blessing, as my first exposure to Storge, Pragma, Agape- the kind of love I needed at a time when the rest of my life felt like pure chaos.
It was a curse, for a teenager refusing yet to be cured of her Peter Pan syndrome.
He is easily one of the most attractive and desirable of people I've ever known. Mixed-race handsomeness with an athletic body, and the most sincere smile to boot. But what he gave me was less sweet and a lot more fulfilling than eye candy.
Physical attractiveness, is the first quality to deteriorate in a person, and physical attraction is the quickest to fade between two. “Easy come, easy go.” Not only that, but there are so many good looking people in the world, (too many, really), that it’s really not even that special to find someone physically attractive anymore. I have grown desensitized to beauty, as the overwhelming amount of hotness in the world renders it inconsequential.
I loved his beautiful mind. His resilience and faith. His self-discipline and freakish intelligence. Stubbornly ambitious and unfairly talented, he was someone who moved and inspired. Who pushed and surprised. Made me laugh. Let me think. Made me hurt, and helped me heal. I dare you to tell me a nice face alone is capable of that effect.
We can rationalize that there are less meaningful connections because they just exist in lesser quantities, but I also think that a part of that blame lies in ourselves. It takes so much more effort to get to the honest core of an individual, that we forgo the mess and settle for the most available thing. Whatever meets the eye. Yes, mindful connections are hard to find, but it is we who seldom rise to the challenge.
He taught me to crave more.
This led me to strive to cultivate my own mind. I became eager for it to stretch and grow. I was so blown away by him, and (while I’m not sure if it’s my generosity or pride driving this), I wanted equally as much to return the favor. To be able to elicit the same excitement in someone through a connection so strong it transcends the physical.
I want someone who listens to me, nods in agreement, thankful, in love with the fact that I can still steal the words off the tip of his tongue. Brain banging is so incomparably sexy.
Thank you for giving me more than meets the eye, and encouraging me to develop my own "more."
A beautiful girl is vestigial if lacking a mind that matches. And beautiful words are nothing if not written with a purpose. I color my text with passion, the way you colored my life with yours.
3. To M, The One Who Showed Me "Where"
When I was 21, I let myself be possessed by someone who thought of me as a possession.
I'm aware of how disgusting jealousy can be. It's a feeling that taps into almost every other negative emotion we're capable of. Insecurity, anger, fear, pure fucking madness.
And falling for another person automatically involves vulnerability to jealousy. It's the fine print we often overlook as we chase the butterflies. "Side effects include anxiety, self-doubt, and loss of sanity over spells of gripping jealousy. But hey, love, right?"
From a relationship that insidiously morphed into a dictatorship, I learned something that should've been so obvious-
People do not belong to each other.
What you can get, from loving another, is simply the chance to learn and grow and laugh with them. To experience the relationship and just... be good to each other in the limited time we're given in our lives.
You simply do not get to "have" anyone. And feeling like you don't "have" something you "deserve" brings out your darkness. The full spectrum of love dips far below what I expected, as I unwantingly discovered this hidden iceberg of negative emotions.
He showed me where demons live. Insecurity, pride, jealousy, anger set up camp dangerously close to "love," and are susceptible to leaking in if love doesn't compel you to rise above it.
Thank you for teaching me where to draw the lines.
4. To A, The One Who Taught Me "When"
When I was 22, I lost one of the most influential and important people in my life.
Upon meeting him, at 12 years old, I experienced my first crush. A decade later, I experienced my first loss of a loved one.
I moved on from him as a crush, of course. The reason my love for him is so timeless, is because I feel like I’ve been through it all with him. Ranges and categories of love have been condensed and zeroed in on this single human being.
I’ve idolized and crushed on him as the innocent middle schooler. I’ve resented and been bullied by him like a little sister. I’ve grown to appreciate him as a friend. I’ve respected and looked up to him as an adult. I guess you could say I’ve loved him for a lifetime. And this makes me smile. It makes me proud. It’s the best thing I’ve done to date.
Maybe some people’s effect on you truly is unchangeable. Time, distance, lack of contact, even something as formidable and seemingly definite as death, are but pathetic barriers in the face of a love like this. There is no competition for how I feel, a feeling that could never die.
Losing him, made me absolutely convicted that our ultimate purpose in life boils down to… each other. That’s it. Everything, every single thing in the universe is interconnected. Our bodies are made up from the same atoms that form the sun and stars, the moon, asteroids, and comets. We are not inhabitants of the universe. We are the universe. He lives as a part of you, you, as a part of me.
And life? Life is but a brief juncture in which our consciousness occupies a physical state– it’d be short sighted to think that someone is gone just because they exist in a different realm.
This is what Albert taught me, in life and death. There is a bigger picture- trust it. Be empowered by your role in it. In the end, we’re all made of stardust.
Thank you. For so many things. But specifically,
Thank you for teaching me the most important quality of love- there is no restriction of "when." When love is real, it truly is forever.
Rest in paradise my friend. I will love you, always.
5. To R, The One Who Taught Me "Why"
When I was 23, I met someone who saved my heart by breaking it first.
When it became clear that neither of us were prepared or willing to mend our collective wounds, when we knew that there is no realistic future for us... I still held on.
Maybe I was hopeful. Maybe I didn't want to be alone. Or maybe I just don't know how to commit to actions that are logic-based, as a slave to my impulse and emotion. Whatever the reason, I stubbornly tightened my grip on "us," refusing to admit that the grip itself was hurting both of us.
He finally let go. Or, more accurately, forced me to.
While I'm sure we both did love each other,
he taught me why sometimes, that doesn't matter.
No love is worth destroying someone over, lest destroying 2 people over. As beautiful and wonderful as it is, your body, your psyche, your spirit... These are larger than love. The fear of losing someone should pale in comparison to the fear of losing yourself.
Thank you for pulling the band-aid off, and giving me a chance to heal.
Heal, Without you. I'm okay now, and seems you are too, and I am sincerely glad to see that.
To J, The One Who Taught Me "Whom"
At 24, I double as a library of mistakes and lessons, and well as an open book for more.
I've learned about love languages, (thank you K).
I've learned what I'd like to give and take, (thank you Z).
I've learned that entitlement can be poisonous, (thank you M).
I've learned that real, human to human love doesn't stop at anything (thank you A).
And I've learned that some relationships are toxic after its expiration date (thank you R).
I know I have a lot left to learn. But what I do know, is that he loves me for who I am.
We both love imperfectly. Often, clumsily. Sometimes, we hurt each other. It happens. We're both so human- but we know, ultimately, that we have the best intentions and softest spots for each other. And as we grow, it's more and more evident how much transformative power love can hold- cynics to romantics, pessimists to believers.
He showed me that I don't have to be perfect to be loved, and that love doesn't have to be perfect to be worth it.
Thank you for loving me, as I am.