It’s a Silly Game We Play

I know nothing of love, but I’ve got plenty to say about it.

No really, it’s true. Despite my romantic musings and belief in the toxic haze of true love I puff without fail each morning, I know very little of the thing we all seek. I’ve got a sneaky suspicion, however, that very few of us, in fact, have any concrete understanding of the fickle nature of love, nor do we know why we need is so badly. Could that, in short, be the reason we seek it so desperately? Its elusiveness, its chameleon quality, the way it seems to exist in all or nothing. Its awful habit of knocking too frequently on a wretched, broken door, or not bothering to knock at all–sometimes for years at a time.

Since I was very young I have recognized a sickening quality in myself; the things I like best are things that, by nature, will likely never be mine. That attribute is only rivaled by one other; the things I love most are those that I’ve had all along. But the things I love often take a backseat to the things I like…I am only twenty-one, after all, and a twenty-one year old heart is supposed to be fickle as a Starbucks wifi signal, or sunny weather in May. So it seems that despite everything I’ve learned from siblings and parents and dates that never came true, and apparent douche bags that (surprise, surprise) turned out to be apparent douchebags, I still take the gamble, leap before looking, and fall infatuated without an inkling of reciprocated emotion. Count the scars on my heart, like notches on a bedpost, but every damn time I swear I’d do it all over again.

But why the hell do we do it, people? Because it’s fun to love! And no I don’t even mean physically, I’m talking elementary-school-status love affairs where he watches the same cartoons as you and lets you have the tootsie roll part of his Tootsie Pop–even though in hindsight that’s horrifically unsanitary. I’m talking middle school skate night when he held your hand as you tripped across the rink. I’m talking high school devotion, the way you looked at him when he came to your birthday party all spiffed up and confident and reckless with abandon, because neither of you had been hit by life’s bullets yet. Do you remember the sober love–the before-college, before-adulthood love? When you didn’t need to be drunk to ask for what you wanted, when it didn’t need to be three in the morning for him to say he loved you right back? I said I’m still young and fickle, and that is true. But I’m not so young that love is still light or perpetually friendly; I’m old enough to know its implications and potential risk for annihilation.

Where’s my Shirley-Temple love, I’m begging for that teeth-rotting, dream-inducing, hyper dope kind of love that adulthood denies along with the thousands of other things it takes away. I can remember waking up in the morning with the moon on my teeth and the sun in my hair, electrified with feeling despite the fact that he hadn’t touched me at all.

Where is that love? It was such a fun game, only papercuts to be feared, never the big wrecking ball of catastrophe. Instead I’ve got this steeled sort of love that’s less like a game and more like a sport–and heaven knows I was never very good at those. It’s the kind of event that calls for chainmail and witnesses and scoreboards and lots of booze. Even its kindest moments still end with me sneaking out of bed before the sun can point out all the things I said I wouldn’t do, yet did anyway. It hurts, this love, and I’ve only just dove in.

But it’s Valentine’s Day and I’m going to keep believing in the pink carnations I’m seeing, instead of all the cautionary breakup songs and divorce stories I’ve heard. Even if it starts as a silly game and eventually turns into a frightening war, love is still the highest power I’ve known. The craziest things I’ve ever done have not been done for money or fame or freedom, but for people–in hopes of winning that organ in the center of their chest. I guess what I’m trying to say is, even though it’s ugly and even though a lot of the pieces are broken or missing or used up, I’m still going to keep playing this silly game of love.




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