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Real Love

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In the words of the American writer Robert Heinlein, “Love is the condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.” I cannot begin to express how his words echo my own take on the subject. To some, love is simply a concept; an ominous force that looms from afar, invisible and hard to distinguish. Its existence is questioned, and is too often associated with affairs of the imagination. The fashion in which I was raised gives me the utmost certainty when I insist that love is no contrivance of the media, no blend of lust and attraction mistaken for something unreal. Love is tangible, perceivable to an open mind. I see traces of it in others and I feel its indisputable presence in my home every day. The bond between my mother and father allowed me to discern love and apprehend the truth behind it, not the imitation of it portrayed on screen. When considering and arguable account of real, undoubted love, I immediately think of my parents’ love for each other. Often times, it must be seen to be believed, so what better way to render love than to explain the love I witness every day.

My mom shoots me a slightly bewildered look when I begin to pin her with questions about her relationship with my father. My dad proceeds by entering the room and raising his eyebrows in disbelief, somewhat disconcerted by the very idea of me, his normally disinterested teenage daughter, insinuating such a conversation. In their defense, I have the tendency to plug my ears or make a quick getaway in similar situations. Mom, however, happily obliges and reveals a few secrets of their unfailingly happy marriage, stepping lightly as to not make me cringe. She declares that once love is there, its just there and you can’t get rid of it. You begin to care about the wellbeing of the other person more than you do about yourself. According to my mom, if the love you feel is real, there will be no back up plan, no second-guessing.
I then ask her how in god’s name they are able to tolerate each other’s flaws for “as long as they both shall live”. Her response consists of two words: common interest. This much I know to be true. My parents have been proving this theory for twenty years in the running, literally. They enthuse each other’s exercise obsessions, whether it be my mom’s Pilates phase, my dad’s spontaneous bike rides across Europe, or training for half marathons together. They both covet a glass of wine after dinner and enjoy travel, reading, and redecorating our home (whether a new addition is necessary or not!) Their interests complement each other nicely. My dad smokes cigars and my mom likes the smell of them. My mom is an extraordinary cook and my dad is the only one who truly appreciates her mastery.
To comprehend just what makes my mother and father two people in love is look backwards. I often refer in my mind to the way the met as a love story without all the charm and embellishments that a movie could offer. My mom grew up in a tiny, insignificant town in Alberta, Canada. She came stumbled upon my dad while vacationing. Of all things to be doing, they met while playing tennis. During my miniature interview with my mom, she laughed and pointed out, “We met playing tennis and we still play tennis today. Although, I really like to win and so does he. I guess it’s good that we take turns winning. It keeps us both happy!”
This continuity in their relationship is something the carry together. To me, it represents true love. Inadvertently, my parents fell in love right then and there. I’m ecstatic to say that my parents had love at first sight. It encourages my own hopes that a love at first sight type scenario is a possibility in the real world. It feeds my little girl dreams that I still harbor deep down. My mom switched colleges and moved to Toronto to be closer to my dad, a proud Pittsburgh native. After dating for a year, they were married with promises of being together forever. Collectively, my parents changed the current paths of their lives to be together and take a chance. Perhaps it was a hasty decision, but I’m impressed by their boldness.

I propose a final question to my parents as I probe them for details about the ins and outs of matrimony. “What is it that sets you apart from people who get divorced?” I wait in anticipation for their response. When I was young, my parents separating was one of my most dreaded fears. They did absolutely nothing to suggest such a thing, but even so, I would have nightmares that they would somehow find a reason to stop loving each other, to call off this magical thing called love that seemed so incredible to me as a seven-year-old. My mom’s replies with an air strictness in her voice, “Never, ever go to bed angry with each other.”
I’m an absurdly lucky girl. I posses not one memory of my parents as much as arguing. My parents’ ability to resolve any conflict with limited effort suggests that it is possible to love someone forever. It enforces my belief that you can never be truly angry with the one you love.

Love is inexplicable. It arrives in limitless forms. It baffles many who try to define just what it means. It’s an impossible task to declare, black and white, just what love is. However, it is to my knowledge that it is in existence. I see true love between my parents every day. I am sure, with every ounce of my being that it waits for those who have the means of finding it. I am fortunate enough to live a life full of it. Love is only elusive to those who cannot comprehend it, but it presents itself to anyone who is willing to accept it. Love is the foundation on which I intend to live my life.





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