1. It hurts. Goddamn, it hurts like hell. It hurts like a dull, constant ache you can’t shake. It hurts when he’s sitting next to her and listening to what she has to say or tying her shoes or playing with her binder because you know that’ll never be you. It hurts when he’s sitting next to you and smiling and listening to what you say because you know it’ll never be more than that. It hurts when he’s sitting across the room with his friends and he’s laughing because look how smoothly his life flows without you in it.
2. If you’re in a room with fifty other people who are talking to each other, you’ll still be able to pick out his laugh.
3. There are lots of different kinds of love, and lots of times people mistake something as love when it’s really not. That’s okay, because a lot of people think that you can’t really name love and it’s beyond any mere word or definition or something. I think it’s easy to name love. I just don’t think it’s as easy to name who you love.
4. In seventh grade, the guidance counselor tried to teach us the difference between love and infatuation. We got little sheets that had a list of actions or behaviors and we had to write ‘L’ or ‘I’ next to them. One of them was, “you’re happy when the person gets a boy/girlfriend, even if it’s not you.” According to the teacher, the answer was love. She said that you’re in love if you put their happiness above yours. I think she’s wrong. She was going on about how love was the most selfless thing about human nature, but I think
5. Love is selfish. You’re asking someone to give their heart to you, to give every thought of self hatred or every deep secret or secret smile to you and all you give them in return is the promise that you’ll be careful with it.
6. It’s a myth when they say that love doesn’t go away. It goes away, it just lingers a bit, like acid eating away at the lining of your heart and when it’s finally created a big enough hole that leaves you keeled over whenever you touch it, it trickles out and away.
7. Love goes away, but the damage doesn’t. It leaves carnage like the morning after a battle. It leaves thousands of people who just can’t compare. It leaves big holes in your watch, time you’ll never get back.
8. Everyone says teenagers can’t fall in love. They do it anyways, because they’re rebellious and stupid.
9. Love isn’t looking beneath the face and finding the gem inside. Love is seeing the face and falling in love with the freckles spanning his nose or the wrinkle between the eyebrows when he’s working on calculus or the chapped lips he doesn’t know he bites. Love isn’t ignoring the appearance for the sake of the personality; it’s relearning each tiny imperfection every day you see him and wanting to do that for the rest of your life.
10. Love is a clearing by the highway that hasn’t been mowed in a while, with grass up to your thighs and invisible rocks and land mines you might accidentally trip on. It’s lying out there at one a.m. on a night when it’s overcast, and neither of you can see the stars but they’re there anyway, and you know they’re there anyway, no matter if nobody recognizes them or not, they’re not leaving any time soon.
11. Love is a hole somewhere in that field and if you’re lucky, you might trip and fall into it because even if you end up with a sprained ankle, you can embellish the story until you end up fighting alien pirates and getting injured carrying the princess off the boat. Nobody will believe that, but if you’re younger than twenty-five, nobody will believe you fell in love either.
12. There was that one time when my sister was engaged and then she was not-engaged and she kept all the letters they had written to each other and I think that’s what love is.
13. You don’t need to know if they like rain or snow or sun or if they like waffles more than pancakes or if they decide things quickly or they spend days waffling between two options or if their favorite color is pink or orange. Love is knowing they like pink and pancakes and loving them anyways.
14. It’s being confused and lying awake at night in your bed because love is about caring for someone else and being human is about caring for yourself.
15. When I was six years old, I fell in love for the first time with a boy who ran away from me on the playground. Before then, I had no idea that love and pain could be so synonymous.
16. One of my friends last year said that love and pain are not synonyms, just like sex and pain are not—it only hurts when you’re doing it wrong.
17. It’s wonderful, okay, it fills you up to the brim and you spill over the sides and you’re okay with that because you’ve never had anything in your life more worth the mess. It makes your teeth decay ten years too early because of the sweetness. It feels like she placed the sun in the sky and God created the stars after He created the freckles dusting her cheeks. It’s like giving him a gun and a motive and asking him not to shoot you in the head because there’s got to be trust there, hiding away in your eyes or in the splay of your palms. It’s perfect and it makes you feel perfect on the good days and like there’s something worth living for on the bad ones. It’s being not really sure if you believe there’s a god, but knowing that you believe in them and it’s being one hundred percent sure that the definition of love begins with their name.