Stretched across a mound of sand at Lake Erie, I watched two teenagers fall in love. They disappeared behind gleaming sun beams and reemerged, blurred by dense lines of my Maybelline coated lashes. Like viewing the world through a fine tooth comb. I watched them and thought to myself, A love like that only exists in movies. They had something so vast and wordless, so full-bodied and in most cases, fleeting. I gave them six months.
Yet, as the layers of my being began to bronze, I found that I couldn’t take my eyes off of them. Just as he couldn’t seem to peel his eyes away from her. He packed a picnic for the two of them. Making commentary as he pulled each item from the school bus yellow lunch pail. “I didn’t know if you liked macaroni salad” or “My mom picked these strawberries from her garden this morning”. He pulled out a Jones Club Soda: one original glass bottle and two neon bendy straws. His affection radiated. He watched her delicately bite at the plumpness of a ruby red berry, leaving a trail of sweetness running over the curve of her bottom lip. He leaned in and kissed the juice. He wanted to breathe her in and I wanted to wrap them, like a red ribbon around my pointer finger. My own little reminder that maybe love does exist.
My mind retreated to the last time I believed in a palpable love. I thought of my Fisher Price doll house family. The one with the perfectly proportioned blonde wife and the handsome husband, who never said “the wrong things”. They would bend their bodies to acute angles to sit at the plastic kitchen table. They would feast on fresh made cherry pie without lifting a finger. They never chewed with their mouths open. They had an effortless love. The kind that allowed them to sit in comfortable silence. But that was before the husband worked night shifts at Polly Pocket’s playhouse. Before the mother laid alone in her paisley, plastic bed—her eyes permanently painted open.
That was before I believed that love is as illuminating as the glimmer of goldfish scales, which send sparks to the water’s surface. Before it was so breath taking, so simply complex, so mind-altering. Being in love, is the hardest thing in the entire world. It’s painful. It’s ugly. It’s entirely and perfectly, worth it.