What does love feel like?
I remember when I was in high school and I had my first real girlfriend over for dinner my little cousin asked me what it felt like to be in love. I laughed for a little bit before sitting back into the couch having just been hit with a question I never really thought about before. As a 16 year old, I was no stranger to the shoes of a hopeless romantic. I don’t think there’s just one definition for love and to say a 16 year old can’t feel love is just not true. That being said, I felt what I thought was love many times. And the only time I realized I hadn’t been in love was after the fact when I had the chance to look back retrospectively. I thought I loved this girl but so many other times it turned out to be something else so how could I know for sure. And as it turns out, I wouldn’t know what that felt like until 3 years later. But let’s take a couple steps back.
It’s 4th grade. I’m 9 years old and I’m in love. Or am I? It’s 2 AM and I’m writing a soon to be triangularly folded note to her. Circle this if you like me, yes or no? She circles yes. We both like green day, I spike my hair up with my dad’s hair gel, she wears all black. My mom says I’m not allowed to kiss girls. Cole Sprouse says he regrets that his first kiss was as early as it was so I have lots of reasons not to kiss her. I write what I think are brilliant poems about her. She’s the first girl to like me. We sit in the slide of the playground too afraid to hold hands. One day we do. Fireworks don’t compare to the feeling. We have competitions for who can jump the farthest on the swings. The school year ends and I never see her again.
It’s the 7th grade. I’m reaching the peak of my coveted awkward phase and she sits next to me in english. She has hair that reminds me of a lions mane. She’s an actress. I’m the only one in the grade without a cell phone but she’s going be a star one day. She’s in the school play and her monologue gives me goosebumps. We are best friends. She tells me about boys she thinks are cute and I pretend it doesn’t feel like daggers. She’s my first slow dance. We get detention for passing notes. We call each other every night. Over summer break she gets a boyfriend.
It’s 9th grade. I broke up with her after 2 weeks. Did I make the right decision? I didn’t. She has a boyfriend. She wanted me and now she doesn’t. I took her for granted. Fuck that stupid song Big Yellow Taxi. Why is the radio always stop on. I learn a Katy Perry song on guitar to impress her. She isn’t impressed. Regret is a stupid emotion.
It’s 11th grade. My braces are off and she likes my pictures on Instagram. She is a year older than me. She is beautiful. She smiles at me when we see each other in the halls. We get ice cream. She is my first kiss. It feels like a nuclear bomb had a baby with Coachella. I ignore my responsibilities to be with her. I sneak out to be with her. She is sick. She is going off the rails. I think about her every day but she hurts herself every day. She looks for validation in other guys. I delete her number. She goes to college.
It’s 12th grade. Get me out this town. This town is suffocating me. This town is horrible… who is that? She’s the prettiest girl in our town. She goes to the same school my mom teaches at. She looks like an angel. She listens. She understands my goals. She dreams bigger than I do. We talk on the phone every night. We fall asleep talking to each other on the phone and text each other throughout the day. 2 AM movie nights in my parents basement with our clothes in a heap by the heater. You party too much. I wish I was more social. I learn social skills to keep up with her friends. I hate her friends. Her friends hate me. She thinks I cheated on her with a girl in another state. We fight every day. It’s not worth it anymore. I go to college.
It’s 2014. I dropped out of college a couple months ago. I’m scared. I’m excited. I’m broke. I miss my family. I’m more turbulent that a fighter jet in a thunderstorm. I’m going to change the world. Halloween is so stupid. I don’t usually hate halloween but I do this year. I can’t afford a costume so I’m decked out in Good Will. Fuck it tonight will be great. Nice to meet you I’m Jonah. I don’t smoke but it’s part of my costume! So I guess I should probably get your number. She is smart, funny, interesting, and drop dead gorgeous. I’m so unbelievably lucky, how did I land this. Wanna meet for coffee? She likes red velvet. “The slice of red velvet cheesecake that flew from LA to your house, Merry Christmas”. She is the one. I repeat this is not a drill; she is the one. I’ve never had a 4 month anniversary. What do you even get a girl for her birthday. Dude I have $3 in my checking account. Maybe she can teach you something that she loves and that’ll bring back the spark! When was the last time I did something for myself? I don’t make art anymore. When was the last time I talked to my friends. I don’t feel like me anymore. She keeps telling me she’s losing herself to us and I agree but I tell her it’ll be fine. I’m drowning. She’s drowning. Who is this person and why is he acting so petty. You deserve better. We just went super nova. Matthew McConaughey and Neil deGrasse Tyson couldn’t save us from this black hole. 3 AM. Incoming call. I’m gonna need a big fuckin bandaid.
Love is irresponsible, unnecessary, and, until you learn how to control it, it will wreck you; kinda like trying to ride a horse without knowing anything about horses. At first it’s exhilarating and euphoric but then you realize you’re trying to ride a horse without knowing anything about horses. And you fall off. But for a little bit, the face full of dirt is so absolutely worth it man.