What is love?

January 2, 2009
By Bethany Ao, Wilmington, NC

Is there a way to truly define love? I stared at my teacher’s white board, at the hastily scrawled words beneath the black box with JOURNAL written inside. My blue notebook sat idly in front of me, my pencil tossed to the side. I just couldn’t think of anything to write. Questions bounce around inside my head, begging me to answer them. What is love? Does it truly exist? I wanted to bang my head against the gum-encrusted desk in front of me and scream out of sheer frustration. Only one rational thought occurred to me then; I hate Valentine’s Day.
All the fuss over relationships, the jewelry, the candy, the flowers, and the PDA get to me every single year. I hated having to walk through the halls and see boys fawning over their girlfriends, and the girls giggling and comparing secret valentines. And these stupid, stupid journal topics.
I can’t say I’ve ever felt true love, besides the kind my family and friends give me. I’ve known multiple crushes, from the crayon-sharing kind in kindergarten to the puppy-love kind in fourth grade, when you sit on the soccer field and watch boys play soccer, even though it’s really boring and you just want to go hang out with your friends. The boy I had liked in first grade shared his lunch cookies with me, and the boy I had liked in fourth grade hurt himself trying to show off during the soccer scrimmage games, which made me smile. But that’s not love. So what is?
I stared at my writing classmates. They scribbled away in their journals, the line of concentration obvious on their faces. My best friend, Addison, stopped for a second to look at me and nibble of the edge of her eraser. She glanced down at my blank sheet of paper, and opened her mouth. For a second, I thought she was going to say something, but then she just dropped her head and went back to writing. I sighed and stared at the board some more.
I picked up my pencil and wrote one word. Sacrifice. Love is sacrifice. When you love someone, you have to be able to make sacrifices for them. Sacrifice reminded me of the book I had read in fifth grade; Gone with the Wind. Ah, the ploys of Scarlett O’Hara, trying to get at the man she thought she loved, only to discover the man that she truly loved too late, and losing all her chances of love in the process. I remembered crying during the ending and having a pile of used Kleenexes next to me at the last page.
Heartbreak. I carefully penciled in that word. Even though I had never experienced true love, I had been through heartbreak. Last year, when the boy I had liked for two years straight had suddenly, out of nowhere, developed a fervent crush on Addison was true torture. Addison didn’t like him back, but it was enough to make me cry myself to sleep every night, feeling the deep hurt of betrayal.
Love hurts. I smiled as I thought about that part. When the one you love doesn’t love you back, it definitely cuts to the core. Flashback to seventh grade: when I was completely and utterly obsessed with the Jonas Brothers. I’d get up at seven to watch the TV just to see them perform, leave a message on their MySpace blog every single day, spend hours learning the lyrics to all their songs, and tacked up gigantic posters of their faces all over my bedroom walls. I thought I was in love back then, but now I can see it was just an obsession for a short while.
Love is happiness. I ended with this last little bit of my opinion and put down my pencil. If love isn’t happiness, why do people want it so much? Why do scientists think that no human can survive without love? Happiness is important to our wellbeing. And those young couples that take over the beach every summer when I go to work on my tan and surf, you can just see the glow in them when they walk along the edge of the ocean, holding the hands of their significant other.
And just like the ocean, love is endless.

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