Love was a fickle thing. One moment, it was a work of art, passionate and beautiful but in the next moment, it became an obsession, infatuating and intoxicating. That was love for me. There was no in-between, no middle ground. My parents were an example of love. Days were spent with tender love, kind and generous. Nights flashed into a different kind of love. My parents, screaming obscene words, argued for hours at end. Their harsh words echoed through the paper walls. I remember how my mother would cry because she never meant any of it. All of the phrases were lies, lies she created to protect herself.
There was this song I loved for as long as I could remember. I related love to this song. It’s slow melody drove me insane as I impatiently skipped to the chorus which felt like a leap into ice water, electrifying and exhilarating. The song would sing about how love would tear you apart if you let yourself get swept up in it. Love would consume and thrill you. Love would kill you. I didn’t know what true love looked like. I wasn’t sure I knew the difference between love and true love. Maybe that’s why I wanted so desperately to believe that love between my parents was true love, but I knew that wasn’t real.
The idea of loving someone, loving them so much and letting them consume every thought until it drove one to the ends of the world, that was cruel. That was a love I hoped never to entangle myself in. That love was consuming. It was a nightmare, hauntingly beautiful and exhilarating as a roller coaster, swinging up and down with no end. That was true love.
At school, we would discuss morals- good and evil, and how that affects the world as a whole. It felt as if they always related to love. Love could be both light and darkness, good and evil. When my teacher asked me for an example of good, I said love. She followed up with a ‘why?’ and I stared at her with a small smile. I don’t remember the actual words, but I can recall a small amount. I said something about how love could make someone brave. Then, my teacher had questioned if love could be evil. I had said something along the lines of love could be a weakness if one were to let it affect them like that. My teacher, smiling in a satisfied manner, moved on to ask another student a question. My mind had wandered back to love and true love.
True love was simple. It didn’t exist. Movies showcased girls choking on sharp fragments of crimson-and-pearl apples, and waiting for a prince to wake them, or girls trading their resplendent voices and souls for love. That was not loving; that was forced and sexist. Love like that did not exist. That love was a fantasy. Perhaps that was why I never could watch movies like that. I always complained, and my family would shush me, anxiously turning their heads back to see the story unfold. They were waiting to see the valiant and brave knight save the damsel in distress. We all knew how it ended, but they chose to go along and remain naive until the end. I had to leave the room, knowing that kind of love was not real.
Love was mercurial and dangerous, and true love was even more precarious, but maybe that’s why everyone craved it with a passion. Maybe that was why I allowed myself to dream that true love was possible.