Let’s get right back into it with an interesting and really complex subject, which seems to have been central to my thoughts lately. Love. It’s pretty great, but it comes in many forms and I think some people assume that the word “love” only has one meaning. I think they are wrong, but I also think that everyone interprets love in different ways, and I know that I’m very comfortable with my own understanding of “love”. It goes a bit like this.
So I love lasagne. It’s my favourite food. It’s hot and wholesome and it doesn’t compromise (when it’s good at least). I love it because it’s nostalgic of my childhood, but it also encourages me to remember how much great stuff there is out there in the world that isn’t necessarily British.
Also, it’s an exciting food, and it’s a metaphor for life. There are meaty, messy bits, and smooth boring bits, and pasta (and extended metaphors which don’t necessarily work). It’s got everything. I’m unashamed to declare my love for lasagne.
I love and hate my family. I think everyone does, to varying extents. They say “you can’t choose your family” and that’s entirely true, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t love them. After all, you owe them. They made you who you are, genetically, psychologically, socially. The works. And they owe you as well, because you had many of the same impacts on them (depending on where you are in any given family tree).
I love my family because I think they made me great. There are a few genetic traits I could give up, and a few sociological ones which I’d probably not miss, but overall I am who I am because of my amazing family, and I love them to pieces for it. And I also hate them, because they are so weird and annoying and frustrating. But that’s just how family love is.
Romantic love is difficult. It’s great, it’s one of the best things in life, but it’s also hard. Like family love, you owe something to the person you choose as your romantic partner, but the difference is exactly that – you choose. You choose to share in their life problems, and trust in them to share yours. You commit yourself to the happiness of being loved, and the sadness of being imperfect (because everyone is imperfect).
You also have to choose when romantic love isn’t right, and that’s complicated. You’re giving something of yourself to someone with the expectation that they will give it back, and it’s central to that to know what that thing is you’re expecting, and what you should do if you don’t get it. This is why couples have such messy breakups – they go into the relationship unsure of their needs, but knowing full well that a need has to be met. But when that need is met, it’s the best thing on earth.
This is the most complicated one of them all, at least for me. Some people say that their Mum is their best friend, or their partner, and I’ll admit that I’m close to both those people, but there’s something very unique about loving your friends, because they are the people who owe you nothing but still choose to love you back. You are invested in your partner or your family, you are connected to them. A friend can pick you up or drop you in an instant, but the really good ones don’t, and that’s why you love them.
They are the people who you transact with in a really unique way, because to truly love your friends you often end up knowing the things which make them tick, their wants and fears, and you know those things selflessly. And you give up those things to them, because best friends share a special level of trust. I am lucky to have some amazing friends who I would go to the moon and back for, and the thing which makes them so important is that I’m never tired of being their friend (and I like to hope they are never tired of being mine). When they need me to, I’ll move heaven and earth for them, no matter how inconvenient, and I’ll come out the other side not annoyed or fed up, but trying to understand what more I can do. It might be the strongest love of all, because it asks nothing in return, except a continued bond of friendship.
And that’s love.