What is True Love?

Answering this question will allow me to get personal. Right now, my love is halfway across the country and I miss her a lot. She’s going to spend the week with family. It’s just a week, right? 

In actuality it is, but experientially, it feels longer. Perhaps true love gives one the perception of time going slower. When I’m away from her, the days feel longer. When I’m with her, it’s as though time slows down. I can wait for months for an anticipated film and in what feels like a blink of an eye, I’m at the theater watching said film. Yet months away from her felt a lot longer. So perhaps true love stops time.

True love has affects on your physical and mental states. I struggle with anxiety, but when we were in a long distance relationship, whenever I visited, I never felt anxious. I always felt my best. I felt strong and alive. When we are apart, like today, like right now, I feel empty. I lose my appetite. I have even a loss of will. I just don’t want to do anything. Even writing this is difficult, so the end result may come off as terse. That’s okay because thoughts in a stream of consciousness have value.

True love can transform you and I would argue that it should. Before I met her, I was emotionally closed off. I put up walls and built them high because of hardships I faced since I was 19. For reasons having nothing to do with my parents, because they were the best they could be and both live on in my heart, I never shared emotions with them. I didn’t tell them when I liked a girl or when I was bullied or about how I felt when I thought the foster children got more attention than I did. I bottled it all up. 

So over time, I started to see myself as a monster because I couldn’t share feelings even with the people I loved the most. This led to an incapacity to understand emotions in others, perhaps even a lack of empathy. I didn’t want to be this way. She rescued me from a dark path by teaching me to reconnect with my inner child, that person I once was, one who shared feelings freely and without shame or regret. I confide in her. There aren’t many things I can feel that I won’t tell her. Like the cliche goes, she’s my rock.

True love inspires you. Universe knows I haven’t picked up a pen to write anything resembling a poem since I aspired to be a rapper back when I was 16-17 years of age. She came into my life and became my muse. I found myself writing poems about her. I then messaged them to her with hopes of making her smile. Beyond that though, I want to be a better person for her.

I can be angry and bitter because of the adversity I have faced as an inner city Latino. I admit to messing up and saying things to her that I didn’t mean. I have hurt her feelings, sometimes even deliberately because somehow I express my deepest pain with rage. Even in my anger, it’s as though I’m observing my own behavior, so I regret the things I have said. I immediately want to take it back. I wasn’t one to apologize, but to her, I would drop to my knees and beg for her forgiveness if it ever came to that.

Before I left to pick her up from work yesterday, I saw part of one of my favorite films: “The Sound of Music.” Fraulein Maria, played by Julie Andrews, goes off on Captain von Trapp. She scolds him about his emotional distance and how this has created a barrier between him and his children. She tells him that they want to know him, that the boys need to learn how to be men, and that the middle child is quiet but precocious. He turns to a defense mechanism and tries to shut her down authoritatively as he’s so accustomed to doing. He ends up calling her “captain” because he implicitly recognized her authority over him in that moment. Then the children begin to sing. He’s moved, he sings with them, and despite telling her to leave, he asks Maria to stay.

Because of her, von Trapp found a piece of himself that went missing when he lost his wife. I found a piece of myself because of my love. She’s a part of me now and any distance, no matter how short, leaves this gaping pit in my stomach. Of all the gifts I’m getting on Christmas, she’s the one I want the most. The lights can flicker on my tree and in my window. The snow could fall during Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas.” It won’t mean much of anything if she’s not with me on that day. 

That brings me to my last observation about true love: it’s mutual. She feels everything I feel right now and wishes I could have afforded to go with her. Holiday flights are expensive and I unfortunately don’t have vacation days, so I had no time to save enough money. This time next year, we both plan on being together. She is all the best parts of me.

Word on the grapevine is that true love doesn’t exist anymore. It does and I am experiencing it. I look at her ever so often and tell her that I’m lucky, that I’m happy to have met her, that I’m grateful for her. True love gives me a sense of gratitude, it centers me, makes me more present; I lament over time wasted arguing or saying hurtful things. I want every moment with her to be meaningful. I love her deeply, to the point that I would lay down my own life to prolong her days. I’ll toss and turn tonight because she’s not breathing softly next to me. I will miss her right until the moment she steps through the door. 

If you’ve given up on finding true love, I admonish you to find a second wind. Look again! You may be born alone, you may die alone, but I don’t think you are meant to live alone. There’s someone out there who completes you or who will pick up your pieces and slowly stitch you back together. I am no one special or deserving, and yet I received this most precious gift. True love is real and you can experience it too. Please don’t stop searching.