It was a sign.

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Me telling this story, about 10 years after it happened – State Theater (Oct. 2016)

I was naked from the waist up with a man I didn’t even know. He was putting little wires and pads on my chest. I figured he normally did this to old guys with similarly saggy boobs.  All I could think to say was “Can you tell they’re fake?” He laughed.Sorta. Inappropriate things fly out of my mouth all the time, especially when my chesticles are hanging out.  After the devastating four months I’d had I thought I might as well keep things light.  My heart had been obliterated. And I was at the hospital to see if I was having a heart attack. At age 42. It was a sign: God hates me.

I knew getting divorced was not supposed to be fun. But I thought finding Mr. Right would be, like, totally fun. And easy.  I had a sign, on my head, “Hot to trot divorcee looking for true love after a shitball of a marriage.   

Well, I met him innocently enough through one of my kids’ activities. It was such an exciting time. Our kids got along, he was smart, good looking, and seemed to be damaged just enough by his evil ex-wives.  And he talked.  He revealed.  He told me things that made me feel special; you know, it was a sign – he liked me. I was special.

I liked that things were going slowly. We spent a few months hanging out. At the start I thought we were taking things slowly because of his history; two divorces. But months of soul bearing and fancy glances led to nothing but lingering hugs. He still hadn’t stuck his tongue down my throat. Was it a sign? Bad breath? Didn’t he like my butt? 

After months of wondering, one night I gathered my courage and said “I’ve decided I can’t ever kiss you.” He replied, “Oh yeah?” So I said – “Yeah, cause if I do I’ll want to strip you, lick you, and ride you like a mechanical bull.”

His reply: He kissed me…. on the cheek. Looking back, it WAS a sign. I never heard from him again.

I can only explain the four months after he quit coming around as annihilating. I felt sick to my stomach which meant I couldn’t eat. I lost weight. I looked nasty. I also cried constantly. I cried. And I cried.  And I cried. It was a sign – something was coming. The loss I felt was the first thing that hit me when I woke up and it sat on me all day. Why did he leave?

I managed to hold it together when I had to, which is, most of the time – but I used to sit through doctor’s appointments and just cry to the nurses. I also cried through sessions with a counselor once a week. I didn’t care about anything.  Nothing made me happy. I went on with life, but only because I had to. I had three kids and I had to keep going to grad school classes.

So, four months of crying later, it was the end of the semester – early December.  I was going out to jog.  Well, jog is a strong word.  Flounder around with legs in motion like Olive Oyl is more like it. I started my jog and noticed my left arm and hand hurt. I thought it was weird, so I just quit jogging and walked.  The pain stopped. I jogged again. The pain came back. It was a sign!

I walked for a few miles then went home and stretched.  My son got off the school bus and I got on my computer to finish writing a big paper that was due the next day.  One of my girlfriends called and I noticed the pain was back. So, I told my friend, Heidi, I was probably having a heart attack. Great.  Fucking great. Next thing you know it’s two housefraus in a minivan headed to Mt. Nittany medical center.

So fast forward to the pads and wires on my chest. Not long after that, a nice, female ER doc came in very casually so I could give her the blow-by-blow. Fast forward to the lifeflight helicopter that was already on its way to haul me out of there. Before she came in she’d read the EKG – it was a sign! This chick is screwed! 

One lifeflight, an angioplasty, and two stents later, I was in a hospital about an hour from home.  I stayed for two nights, had the worst migraine of my life, and managed to scare the living shit out of my ex.  Even though we weren’t together, we are still family.  The best part of being a 42-year-old cardiac patient was the odd looks from doctors.  I was in shape, had low cholesterol, a low resting pulse, and normal blood pressure.  It always seemed to make them feel better when I told them my dad died at 57 from heart disease and that I used to smoke. “Good good good! Makes sense…thanks.”

But wait.  I didn’t have a heart attack because of family history or prior smoking.  No.  I had a heart attack because some fucktard broke it.  Crying every day for four months is not normal.  Neither is not sleeping and not eating.  Stupid fuck bag.  But I couldn’t tell the doctors any of that.  I already felt like an idiot.  And they were all men.  They would roll their eyes.  Poor girl with a broken heart.  Boo frickin’ hoo. They would’ve put me on anti-depressants; I already knew they didn’t help. They would’ve told me to see a different counselor for my delusions. How do you fall for someone after two months of no kissing? Idiot! It was a sign – I was a nincompoop! 

Six days after the heart attack I was back in class.  What else was there to do?  Plus, I had a semester to finish.

About two months after the heart attack I got a call from the cardiologist’s office. They asked if I would talk about my ordeal for something called “Go Red for Women” day.  Apparently, it’s a heart health awareness thing that comes around once a year.  I said I would, so I went to a couple of radio stations and talked about my heart attack. A few days later one of the stations offered me a job on a morning show.  I even ended up on a country music morning show. Words cannot tell you how much I hated country music. It was a sign – God still hates me!

But – it was a sign! I ended up writing my Master’s thesis about country music and advertising. And now – 10 years later, I still happily and joyfully work in country music radio. I even taught at Penn State for a few years and I used to brutalize my students by teaching with country music lyrics.

And as far as the “sign” I got – the heart attack – the sign that God hates me? Well, that actually saved me. I found out months later that Mr. Wonderful was actually Mr. Massive Piece of Shit – he did this and this and this and I was saved from him. And the heart attack got me off the track of thinking about him. I had to re-focus and worry about recovery. God Bless my cardiologists and country music.

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My three kids  🙂

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Florida Georgia Line in the early days (as if they’ve been around forever)

Prom (by Troy Todd)

Prom.  Those four letters that get every teenager’s heart racing.  Just imagine: you and your best friend, maybe even your girlfriend going to the fanciest gala of your entire life.  Taking those priceless photos in the backyard with all of your friends dressed to the nines, and your dates in the most beautiful gowns they could find whilst carrying a bouquet of flowers that we bought just for them.  The limousine ride over: the holy grail of suburban transportation; and the anticipation just rising to burst through the doors at the hall and see all of your lifelong friends.   The people, the lights, and the music all just coming together to put the cherry on top of the four years of high school you have grown so fond of and nostalgic over.  The dancing.  The intimacy of a man and a woman moving together to the beat; feeling the innermost connection and sparking lifelong memories.  Yes, this is prom.  Well, for most people that is.  This was my fantasy, my expectation that I held for so many years.  However, I learned very quickly that the universe had other plans for me, and this one spring day changed all of that.  It changed much more than I could have ever planned.

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I kissed her. I kissed her goodbye; it was pretty standard, being another end of another school day. I probably kissed her goodbye after school hundreds of times, and this one seemed no different.  We parted ways, she drove home in her blue Acura, and I drove off in my red ford, only I was not heading home. In only 24 hours I would ask my girlfriend of nearly two and a half years to prom, to what I thought would be the best night of my life.  Instead of my home, I pulled into the flower shop and bought a bouquet of red roses to give her after I pop the question. She loved roses. I headed home bouncing with excitement.  I started gathering the other materials I would need to adequately surprise her, maybe even enchant her.  I was pleased with everything I threw together, and thought it was about time I start my homework.  It was around this moment that I read a text that would change things forever. “Hey, we need to talk.”

So, that’s probably the worst phrase in human history when talking to your significant other. We talked; we talked about how we’d been growing apart the last few months.  I had become a very involved member of the drama club, while she focused on sports and partying, something I scrutinized at the time. “We’ll maybe we have, but I still love you” I reassured her. “No” she said, “this is different.” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. We had only fought a handful of times in what felt like a lifetime together, but I could tell that something was wrong. I still don’t know today whether it was fate, if the universe was off-balance that day, or if my duties as a boyfriend had simply not been fulfilled, but eventually, my phone rang. It was her, crying. I had never heard her cry. My eyes welled up, and my English paper I was working on soon became soaked with tears as our relationship came to a dreary, depressing end. “I won’t give up, I love you too much to just throw this away” I pleaded. “Well, I feel like we’re just beating a dead horse here.” She sputtered between wails of sadness. “Do you hate me?” She asked. “Of course not, how could I ever hate you.  You’re my everything, no matter what happens I’ll be by your side.  You just watch.”  Soon, we hung up. I looked at the flowers I had bought several hours before and I just lost it.  The thing is, I didn’t feel terribly sad or angry or anything at this point. I was just empty, completely void of feeling; I could barely move. What do I possibly do now? Everything I’d known had just gone out the window; how do I even go about a single day on my own, I simply didn’t know how. I looked again at the flowers, and I had a moment of realization. I couldn’t let this bridge burn down. If I couldn’t go to prom with the girl I love, whether she still loves me or not, why go to prom at all? I went to bed that night cold and alone, but I could feel a small fire burning inside of me.
It was a “B” day at Marple Newtown High School the next day, and that means I had study hall the last period of the day, so I was allowed to leave an hour early. I walked out to the parking lot and put a post-it note on her car. “Come to your house for a nice surprise!” I got into my car and drove only about a mile down to her house. I turned off the car and taking a deep breath I opened my trunk.  Inside were a suit jacket, a ton of chalk, and the roses from the day before. I looked over at her driveway and noticed that her parents must not be home, which made things much easier. Having to see them would just restart the flurry of emotion I experienced the night before. I looked out across the street pavement in front of her house, and planned out how exactly I would write “PROM?” in the most prominent way possible. I knelt down and began writing my masterpiece, but as it so happens, her next door neighbor had been watching me for quite some time now. Shortly after I hit chalk to pavement she asked me “I’ve got to ask you, what exactly are you doing?” I looked up, “Oh, I’m just asking my girlfriend to prom.” And that’s when it truly hit me, the hollow feeling came back, but I wasn’t about to let my guard down. But the sentence I had badly wanted to say for years finally came out, only it wasn’t true. The woman smiled and walked back into her house. It only took about 20 minutes, but it felt like a lifetime in front of her house, the house I spent so much time in my high school years, laughing, loving, and learning so much about myself. I finally finished my presentation writing out “PROM?” with “prom” written in smaller font all around it. It was beautiful, but I had no idea what she’d think, considering the roller coaster of emotions we experienced in the past 12 hours. I sat on the curb as I waited for her to return home, trying to hold back all my emotions and memories of before, but to no avail. I had sat in this same spot with her in months past, looking at the stars, and talking about love and the rest of our lives together. Before I could have a proper flashback, she pulled in to her driveway.

She got out of her car, and looked over at me.  She smiled, but all I could see was sadness in her eyes.  I looked at her; with my hands shaking uncontrollably all I could muster was a meek “Hi, Christina.” She ran over to me and gave me a hug.  This hug was something unlike I had ever felt before.  I hadn’t seen her in probably 24 hours, but it felt like long-lost friends reuniting after several years.  It was a short, but we held each other tight; filling up the hollowness within me.  We released.  She looked over at the road in front of her house with my bold proposal written all over it.  After a few moments she looked up and said “Yes” with a trembling lip and holding back tears.  I was absolutely delighted.  She could have easily said no, but she chose to be courted to senior prom by her newly acquired “best friend.” We sat on the curb shortly after that, and spoke about all of the changes that have already happened.  There was no usual visiting her at her locker.  There was no more sitting together at lunch.  There was no poking my head into her econ class just to embarrass her.  “All of my friends kept on asking me if I was okay, and I wasn’t really sure what to say” she said.  We sat there and reflected on the night before.  “In the middle of the night, I woke up crying, and I regretted everything.  I wanted to take it all back.” I took this in. “No, maybe, this will all be for the better.  You were right, things have changed, and I’ll always love you, but right now, we need to heal.” A tear rolled down her face.  I had never seen her cry before.  I had been dating her longer than I had known so many of my friends, and this was the first time she became that emotional right in front of me.  I put my arm around her.  “If we’re meant to be together, we’ll come back for each other, and we’ll be happy again.” “You’re right,” she said “we’ll just have to see what happens.” I wanted to tell her that this didn’t have to be the end.  If I could just convince her to not leave me, she wouldn’t, and we would go back to normal; perhaps stronger than before.  For some reason, I didn’t.  I let her go because something deep inside me told me that this had to happen.  We silently sat there and held each other for about fifteen minutes.  The last time I would ever hold her.  She eventually got up and told me she needed to go inside and get ready to start dinner.  I told her it was okay.  She picked up the flowers I got her, and told me “You done good kid,” and walked into her house.  I stood on her sidewalk silently tearing up for a couple minutes before finally driving away.

In the months after that day we grew apart.  We grew apart disturbingly quickly.  I became depressed, and bruised myself regularly for feeling so guilty that I didn’t do more to keep things happy between us.  We ended up going to prom together; however by this point she was already interested in another guy, one of my best friends, which ultimately ruined any chances of either us getting back together or me respecting her as a person at all.  We ended up going to senior week together where we stayed in the same house while she hooked up with my good friend Steve, which was the cause of the first time I had ever yelled at a girl.  She’s scared of me now, and it’s been about ten months now since I saw her last, and we could not be on worse terms.

Considering this, many would think this was a story of woe and tragedy, but on the contrary, this opened up a whole new world to me.

When one door closes, several new doors open.  I found myself lost, not knowing what to do, but quickly I found that this was not at all the end of the world.  I built a new relationship around my family that was nearly nonexistent before.  I starting hanging out with my brother at least some everyday, and spent so much more time with my parents whose bridges I rapidly rebuilt between us.  We went to movies and dinners together, and were able to talk about my future together in ways I never really felt comfortable talking about before.  Most importantly of all, I was able to solidify my participation with my new beautiful friend group.  Joining theater in the end of my high school career earned me a group of friends so exquisite that I will cherish for the rest of my life, and the separation between me and ex-girlfriend could not have helped more in getting me closer to these people I consider my second family.  Also, by experiencing the sadness that haunted me for quite a while, I was able to realize the true value in happiness.  I learned that I could be happy on my own, and that it is truly up to me to conjure my own happiness.  I spent the rest of the summer into my fall semester at Penn State doing whatever it took to get a smile on my face, which became easier and easier as time went on.  I was free, and I was able to really rediscover who I am.  I listened to more music, and I wrote more poetry.  In the end, it isn’t about how a person becomes enchanted, whether it be a relationship, a trip to the prom, or a summer of countless memories with friends; as long as the feeling is attained, the effort was worth it.  As for us, we’ll always have the curb.

I don’t know. (by Salvatore Bongiovanni)

“I don’t know.” Those three words ringing in my ears like the clock tower on Old Main. I was desperately grasping for the right words. Damn it Sal. She’s right there. How many times did you rehearse this in your head? That’s it. Let loose. COME ON. Nothing. It’s as if my brain couldn’t pick an emotion and just decided, “Screw you, you’re going to be paralyzed, so deal with it.” One hot jumbled mess of everything I had felt for six months, culminating in being rendered speechless right in front of her. How could you not know? Is that what you’re going to respond with? I felt like I had been cheated. Like she had broken the rules or something. You don’t get to say that. It’s your turn now. I did my job. It’s not fair. But all I could force out was, “Okay. You just have to let me know.”

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There were only a few weeks left of school and everyone was more than ready for summer vacation. Flip flops and shorts made their way out of people’s closets and into the hallways. Final exams stood between the students and their freedom. I was nearly halfway done with my high school career and had no idea what the future held for me. AP Courses, SATs, and college applications waited in the wings; everything was moving so quickly. With all this on my mind, I walked into the chorus room, waiting for my last class of the day to start. There was an elongated break before chorus would start, which meant extra socializing time of course. The other tenors and I were discussing what was going on that weekend when she called my name. I went over to the piano where she was standing, “Hey, Lizzy.” I don’t remember what she said or what she wanted. All I remember is a sensation racing through my body. After engaging her for a few seconds, I had this feeling like I had been slapped in face. Call it cupid’s arrow if you’d like; I don’t care. But it was an incredible crystalizing moment where everything just made sense. I had never been so caught off guard by my own feelings. All I could think was, “Wow, she is so beautiful.” It was as if I was seeing her for the first time in my life or through a lens I had never looked into before. It was something I thought was only possible in a Hollywood film.

I had never had a girlfriend and there had really only been one other point in my life where it was even really possible (unless you want to count my semi girlfriend from Preschool, which nobody does for some reason). But Lizzy was nothing like anyone I had ever liked before. She wasn’t the prettiest girl in school. She wasn’t the most popular girl in school. She wasn’t the most interesting girl in school. But in that split second, that one moment, she became all of that to me. I can’t explain it, and I probably sound like someone who’s been watching too many romantic comedies, but it was a staggering moment. I looked at her blue eyes looking back at me, talking about who knows what, and it just… happened.

So we started texting regularly and I eventually brought her to the beach one day over the summer. It was me, Lizzy, and our mutual friend, Ben. When Ben and I were alone, I decided to ask for his help with Lizzy. “Oh my God. Sal I had no idea! Is that why you brought her here?” I suppose it was. I don’t know. I guess I just thought that if I could get her to a brand new place outside of school, we could connect on a different level. When she returned, Ben casually brought up the topic of who we liked. Lizzy teased us and wouldn’t tell us. “Come on. Tell us,” I pleaded, trying not to sound too desperate. We were treading water in the ocean at that moment and it was appropriate, because what came out of her mouth made my heart sink like it was a hundred pound block of lead. “Henry,” she said. “Henry? My…my best friend Henry?” I staggered. “Yes! Oh my God he’s so cute!” I floated silently while Ben and Lizzy discussed what she had just said, but it was just ambient noise to me. I just wanted to be somewhere else. I wanted everybody gone. “You barely ever talk to him though,” I blurted out, not wanting to believe this was real. “I mean, I wouldn’t know what to do,” she said sheepishly, “You’re our only mutual friend. Would you help me?”

Am I going to help you get with my best friend? A guy you never talk to? A guy you have nothing in common with? A guy who has literally never given you the time of day? Is that what you’re really asking me to do? “Uh. Yeah I guess I’ll help you.” She thanked me a million times. I was happy at the prospects of us talking on a more regular basis, but not happy about what the purpose would be. Did I really want to do this? Could I even do it if I wanted to? Someone needed to help me make this decision.

I’m not sure why I went to Carter. Maybe it’s because we were two of the only people left on planet Earth who still used AIM (AOL Instant Messenger) more than Facebook and he was always online. Maybe he was just online at the right time (or the wrong time, depending on how you look at it). But he’s a trustworthy guy. Confident. Carter is someone who you know is thinking through is choices logically and does what he does for good reasons. He was skeptical at first when I told him my situation. “You want to be doing this for the right reasons, not sabotaging her or being selfish,” he said. And he had a point. It was important to do what I wanted to do, but not at the expense of my friends. So I said it was what I wanted (which it was at the time) and he wished me good luck.

I needed that luck. For three months every conversation was “Why isn’t Henry talking to me? What else do I have to do for him? I don’t understand.” We would talk online and video chat for hours on end. In the beginning it was all about him. I felt invisible. I’m right here. He doesn’t even look at you. Look at me. But as time went on, it became less about him and more just about us. It became two people just really getting to know each other. Our ins and outs. Our secrets. Everything. Through all the late nights when we both could have been sleeping and all the time we could have been actually getting our work done she became the best friend I ever had. Someone who I wouldn’t go a day without talking to. I knew she liked me. I knew we were meant to be together. Hell, I even rigged Secret Santa at Christmas so I could get her a present. We were perfect for each other. The problem was, everybody else thought so too.

“Do you like somebody?” Lizzy’s twin sister Trina had pulled me aside during lunch to talk to me. “Um. Maybe,” I said, half laughing, “Why do you ask?” “Is it someone that I know?” “I’m not telling you Trina.” “Is it someone that I know?” “It might be.” “Is it someone who…lives in my house?” Real subtle, Trina, “I told you I’m not telling you.” “Okay, well. If it is, I just want to let you know that I approve. And your secret’s safe with me.” It was nice to have her on my side and I really appreciated that conversation. I felt like I really had a chance at being happy this time. But Trina was just the first to figure it out. Soon all of our friends knew and before long, realized that Lizzy was kind of taking advantage of my kindness.

“You can’t string him along like this,” they would say. “Why don’t you just date him already?” “I still don’t know about Henry, though,” she would say. “Sal does all these things for you, listens to all your problems, and you and Henry literally never speak. You don’t even make any sense.” This all went on without me knowing of course, but they were right. I was starting to think that what once seemed mutual had turned into a one-way street. I was constantly venting to Carter about everything, “I don’t understand what I did deserve all of this, man. I just don’t. How can she just lead me on for so long?” “Listen, after everything you’ve done for her, if she still doesn’t want to be with you, she doesn’t deserve you.” So I decided to finally talk to her about it. No more beating around the bush. We were going to talk this out whether she liked it or not.

It was a Monday. I was lying on my couch staring at my phone. It took me ten minutes just to send the text, “Are you home? I need to talk to you.” Before Lizzy got home I went on Skype with my friend Megan, who also knew what was going on. I was nervous, more nervous than I had ever been before. “I don’t think I can do this. I don’t even know what to say.” “Sal, look at me. You can do this. You deserve her,” she said, “Pretend I’m Lizzy. Now say it.” We rehearsed until Lizzy signed on. I still wasn’t ready, but Megan hung up on me so I had no choice. I called Lizzy and I just said it, “Look, I know you probably already know this, but I really like you. And I just thought you should hear it from me rather than our friends,” and I finally exhaled. She was speechless. Completely speechless. As if that moment hadn’t been building for months. As if she hadn’t known I was eventually going to tell her. Nope. She stared blankly at the computer screen and kept on typing away doing God knows what. It was almost as if she pretended not to hear me. She sputtered back some nonsense, even though she was clearly trying to distract herself from what I had said. And for the next hour and a half I tried to get an answer out of her. It was basically, “No I don’t like you right now. I did for a little while, but I don’t anymore. But it could happen in the future, I don’t know.” “I don’t know.” Thanks for clearing that up. How is it possible for you to continue to string me along even after I talk to you straight up? She even acknowledged she had feelings for me at one point, but apparently she stopped. My heart skipped a beat at that one. “Okay. You just have to let me know.”

It eventually boiled down to her not wanting to be with me. It was one of the hardest realizations I had ever had to come to, but it was true. We promised each other we would still remain friends though (because that always works out, right?) so I decided I would ask her to the prom. Was it denial? Today I would probably say yes. But then, all I knew was there was nobody else I could see myself going to my prom with.

Customized M&Ms, “Lizzy” “will you go to” “prom with me?” Imagine those three quotes on three separate candies, coming out of a mini candy dispenser in order; did your heart just melt? Yeah. That’s what I thought. Everything was perfect. My best friend and I were going to go to prom and it was going to be awesome, right? Right. Until Trina called me one afternoon, two days before I planned to ask Lizzy. I was at my friend’s house and stepped out to talk to her. She told me Lizzy didn’t want to go to prom with me. There wasn’t even anyone else she had in mind. It just couldn’t be me. The only one that actually wanted to go with her.

After that, Lizzy and I stopped talking. Well, let me rephrase that. She stopped talking to me. The girl who had become my best friend, my rock, had deserted me. Cut me off like a hangnail, like I was a disposable part of her repertoire of friends. I spiraled downward. I was nothing without her, or without our talks at the very least. I lost so much and she made me feel like it didn’t even faze her. I was at my low point. Lizzy had disappeared from my life. My hopes were crushed and my best friend was gone. My life, as I knew it, was over; at least that’s what I thought.

The next few weeks became some of the most liberating of my life. Within less than a month, my braces came off, I killed it on stage in my first lead role in the school musical, got a smoking hot date to the prom, and even had my first kiss. Ever hear that every action has a reaction? Well I was feeling about the strongest reaction I could have imagined. I felt like a brand new person. I became who I still am today: someone who embraces life’s hardships and uses them to improve myself.

Although I never received the apology that every day I hoped for, I know that I am a better man because of it all. I went through a process that all boys have to go through at some point. I now know not only when to stop chasing a girl because she doesn’t like me, but when to stop because she doesn’t deserve me. I’ve still never had a girlfriend; I guess I just haven’t found someone yet who was worth all that effort again. But I know when I find her I’ll know it. I’ll have that same crystalizing moment and it will all start again. But I have gained a mindset from that chapter in my life that I have taken to heart that will stop me (I hope) from repeating my own history. I don’t fear what comes next, but instead I wait in anticipation. I look forward to the cleared pathways and open doors that await me that I don’t even know exist yet. I intend to embrace everything about my life for however many chapters I have remaining, and I can thank Lizzy for that, if for nothing else.

Love Just Works (by KRN)

I am one that is intrigued by the abstract. Although I am a very logical person and solve my problems in such ways, I prefer to study things that essentially do not make sense. While higher education is, in large part dedicated, to the teaching of concrete concepts, the things that aren’t concrete are far more engulfing in our lives. For example, faith is something people experience on a daily basis but yet no one knows what it means to have it. For decades philosophers have been researching and trying to explain the phenomenon. They found that to experience such a phenomenon, one must ascend and have somewhat of an out of body experience. Is it this true of enigmatic things? These are all the things that went through my head as I was approaching this topic of love. How am I supposed to define love if philosophers and intellects far more superior than I couldn’t; what gives me the right?

love 1            Prior to a few years ago, I looked at love solely from an objective standpoint because I myself had never been in love. I saw love through my family, friends and the media. I could never tell you how I felt, only what I thought. Now that I have experienced love, I can use myself as my greatest tool. This is perfect! I have my thoughts and feelings down to a science so finding out what love is should be easy. I started my analysis of love by surveying a pool of college students by asking them to provide me with one word that expressed what love meant to them. I felt this would narrow down my search to a few key terms to choose from. I figured of the top received answers, one must be the definition of love. Trustworthy. Selflessness. Loyalty. Crazy. Timeless. Unconditional. What is the key to this thing called love?

I met Love a year ago, unexpectedly of course. We didn’t really get along much over the years. When Love went right, I went left. I tried to meet Love several times through several people and we’d exchange glances but were never formally introduced. I had heard about this cat Love through testimonies of others and my personal definition of love derived from a cross between reality and movies. This is how it is vs. this is how it should be. Throughout my relationships, I always held my fairytale “This is how it should be.” standard. I treated my guys as such as well. After time passed and that “movie love” was never achieved; I’d move on. Seeing as though I was the only one out my friends, probably my entire high school, that still hadn’t experienced this “real love”; I began to think that it was my fault. Just like those who were surveyed, I too measured potential mates to those standards. Maybe I was asking for too much or had way too many expectations. Maybe movies are just what they are, fake.

I was wrong. Love slowly crept into my bloodstream and plagued me day by day. By the time that I had realized what Love was doing, I was already infected. I thought to myself, “How did this happen?” I didn’t administer my test to see if this guy was right or not! Does this mean that he has all of the qualities or is my heart confused? I need answers! Am I finally going to meet Love or are we just passing by again? Love was like the bright light at the end of the tunnel and all that was missing was a train conductor to lead me to it. Well this conductor came in the form of an old friend, we’ll call him Loverboy. Loverboy and I had expressed interest in our juvenile high school years but decided that it’d be better to remain friends. Years later when we reunited at the same university, our proposal to remain friends was still intact. Little did we know Cupid had already had a plan in motion for us. Somehow I think there was a divine force controlling our lives. Everything that developed between us was a matter of coincidence. Nothing was ever planned, things just happened. Group hangouts slowly became dates with just the two of us. Time passed and just like that, love was my new disease and Loverboy was the administrator.

I was so smitten with my need for this person and his equal need for me. If anything was needed Loverboy would do his best to supply and vice versa. Even the littlest things unknowingly played such a huge a role. Whether it ranged from “Help me study.” to “Buy me these shoes!” the sacrificial ways of the both of us caused a dynamic of trust and loyalty. All the while I used to search and test for these qualities, they in fact disclosed themselves. This didn’t make any sense at all! How did he pass a test that hasn’t even been given? It was as if he had the cheat codes suited to my heart. He did everything, by essentially doing nothing at all.

It was a regular day when I finally came to grips that I had fallen in love. Something about our interactions was different. Not different as in strange but different as in heightened. Everything that I might have slightly felt before came this day with ten times the intensity. I laid there looking up to the ceiling allowing the sun rays from the window to cast shadows that I could play with and the simplest thing happened. Loverboy said “Kierra!” in the subtlest tone, simply to get my attention, and it hit me. I looked over at him and I stared in a daze as my body filled with vibrations. Sort of like butterflies but a herd of them, throughout my entire body. My flesh grew weak and simultaneously I was drawn to him like no other. All aboard! I had made it to the end of the tunnel. It wasn’t until here that I walked over to Love and said “Hello sir, nice to finally meet you.” It was now that I knew that anything before that I had experienced couldn’t hold a candle to love. Maybe the philosophers were right. To be in love you have to have this out of body experience because I definitely felt like those butterflies had helped me take flight. It is like I ascended to this intense feeling realm, Loverboy and I of course. Wanting to see you became wanting to be with you. Wanting to kiss you became wanting to hold you. Wanting you became needing you. Liking you became loving you. You became me. We became us.

Us became everything. At this point we’ve been officially dating for a few months but it feels like years! Ironically enough, I had known him for years but never on the level of understanding as I do now. Days turned to weeks and seasons changed but we didn’t. It was every day was like we first met. Every time I’d see him or hear him speak, I’d be reminded of how much in love I am. Love was fresh. I couldn’t understand how people got tired or bored of their significant other. It may seem that our measly eight months at the time were incomparable to two to three years but I think it was very so much when eight months felt like eight minutes! Love was timeless. Not only in the sense that it lasts forever but also that there are no time limits on love. Love was being able to spend excessive time with this person and only wanting to be closer. Loverboy and I could literally spend seventy-two straight hours together only to part for minor things such as class or work. It got to the point where anytime that wasn’t spent with him was slow. I could attend class for an hour and feel the same amount of time past as if I stayed with him for two days. Love cannot be bound, certainly not by time.

You can never really notice how time passes when you’re occupied. Part of the reason that love is so timeless is because love is a crazy adventure. I could always count on Loverboy for constantly stimulating me. First off, get your mind out of the gutter. I mean stimulate as in keeping my senses heightened. I was constantly drawn to Loverboy because he in himself was an adventure. Constantly I could hear, see and touch him or things relative to him to be entertained. He could always make me laugh at any given moment, even when I wanted to cry. I hated that. Adversely, just as he could make me laugh, he could make me cry. I hated that too, but I still loved it. I still loved him. Loverboy had my emotions on a remote and could activate them at his will and vice versa. I knew exactly what buttons to push to get certain reactions and I used them when needed. There was a mutual acknowledgement of the power we each had over one another and we both relinquished and accepted each other’s. Loving someone who has the power to make you hate them has to be the ultimate state of vulnerability and honor. Love is such a paradox but one that we all accept, crazy right?

Love is crazy, trustworthy, selfless, loyal, crazy, timeless and unconditional. Love is everything but it is effortless. I remember Loverboy and I would talk for hours on things we’d agree and disagree on. Even in our disagreements we were synchronized. Love was harmonious. Problems were rarely a problem because we complimented each other’s personalities so well. “Babe, we just work.” I can’t count how many times Loverboy said this to me. Just works? Love just works? That’s it. Love is not about measuring how much of a quality one person has. Love is not about testing and evaluating. Love is a contradiction that cannot be strategized nor planned. It is not like baking a cake. You can’t manipulate ingredients to get the big picture on the box. Love will come to you at the most unexpected time and it will be beautiful. Love is powerful. When true love comes your way, you’ll notice that your journey required a lot less work than previous relations. True love will flow and encompass all the things you were hoping for and more. It’ll change “This is how it should be.” to “This is how it is.” and soon you’ll start to feel like a movie star because your life is an exact model of a romantic comedy starring Matthew McConaughey. Your search for love becomes your journey through it and you’ll discover that Love cannot be probed. Love is what it is. Love just works.