I’m 5-years-old, sick and home from school at my grandparents. After lunch, my grandpa takes a break to walk with my grandma up and down the condo hallways for exercise.
I’m 8-years-old, skiing with my family and playing in the snow on a winter vacation. Not a care in the world, just soaking in the sun and laughter. My sister is by my side, my mom takes great care of me and skiing with my dad is so much fun!
I’m 13-years-old and am starting my journey in high school, unaware of what I am about to discover. I have my best friend by my side and because of that, I know everything will be okay.
I’m 16-years-old, sitting on a rooftop listening to my crush play guitar, singing John Mayer’s Slow Dancing In A Burning Room. I lay back on the roof and stare at the stars, crazy butterflies in my stomach.
I’m 19-years-old sitting on the beach in Cuba, playing 21 questions when I suddenly realize how much I value intellectual connections and how important talking one-on-one with no distractions really is to me.
I’m 20-years-old, laying in the back of a pickup truck watching the stars high above me as a Rascal Flatts playlist rolls on in the background. I’m sharing a very comfortable silence, interrupted by breaks of uncontrollable laughter.
I’m 22-years-old, sitting outside of the airport watching the planes fly over me at lightening speed, wondering where they are headed. I can feel the piercing green eyes of my crush staring at me, and in the moment I’m feeling a sense of unexplainable comfort.
Fast forward to slow dancing at a wedding with my date, Mike. The Fray’s You Found Me is playing and despite having many people around me, it’s just us. We squeeze each other a little tighter and I close my eyes, not sure of how many moments like this will come again.
Today, I’m sitting in my kitchen writing this blog because a young woman – a ‘sister’ to me, asked me on Valentine’s Day if I believe in love, and if so, ‘how do you know?’ So, my answer if simple: Yes, I do believe in love.
It’s no secret to those who know me best that I believe in the kind of love that lives in the movies… heart pounding, butterfly giving, deeply rooted, passionate love. With that being said as I’ve gotten older, I’ve met different kinds of people and had different life experiences. I’ve come to realize that love can take many forms and that it means something different to everyone.
I took a look back at key moments in my life and had a good talk with this young woman about my experiences, fully aware that what I tell her will likely sink in as she and her first real boyfriend have just broken up. I remember those days, your heart feels crushed and you feel like it will never heal.
As for the ‘how do you know?’ part, my advice is this: when you feel content, happy and comfortable, that is love. When you’re challenged to be better and you feel compelled to grow in some way, that is love. Feeling no judgment, knowing that who you are and where you come from is appreciated, It comes from parents, siblings, friends and relationships. For me, the love I want and need is the love I’ve had. I’ve experienced moments just like in the movies, and I was fortunate to grow up with family and friends who loved me without boundaries… it really taught me what I need, want and deserve.
So as another Valentine’s Day has come and gone, I am grateful for who I was, who I am and who I have yet to be. I’m totally grateful for the many forms of love I have in my life… and am curious what you think: do you believe in love?