I have never been in love, at least not the "truly, madly, deeply" that they talk about in story books. I have never experienced love at first sight (lets be honest, it didn't seem to end up too well for Romeo and Juliet back in the day anyway). I have not been on the end of any grand romantic gesture. I never had a high school sweetheart. But let me tell you; I have no shortness of love in my life and in my heart.
We live in a generation plagued by the belief that romance is everything. Romance is interchangeable with love. The belief that if you have no one to kiss at the end of the night, you are going to die alone. Now, I would be a liar if I said that I didn't find myself wishing that I had someone to love like that. It's human nature to want to be loved, romantically or otherwise, but in our search for romance, we have forgotten that soul mates and love are not just found in lovers.
I'm nineteen and have never been in love, but I still have wonderful love stories to tell. Stories about how I have gotten to be apart of my friends hurt, and their happiness. Stories about being welcomed into families whose blood I do not share. Stories where I was loved when I didn't deserve it. Stories of forgiveness. Stories of redemption. These stories may not include a glass slipper or frogs turning into princes, but they are beautiful nonetheless, and they are certainly magical.
I have found soul mates. I have found people that I want to love for my whole life. People who feed into my life daily, making me a better human being. People who understand my weird brain, and love me more because of it. People who will answer the phone no matter the time. People who tell me the words inside of me matter, even if they don't always feel like it. People who let me sing in their cars, and sleep in their beds, and cry in their arms. People who let me be a character in their story. I may not have found the man I will marry, but I have certainly stumbled onto the people who will be in attendance the day that I do.
I am a word person. I constantly search for words to describe how I feel about different situations; lyrics and quotes from books and movies, they swim ceaselessly around my brain. I am going to be honest though, I can't always find the right words. I think thats why I love writing, if I can't find the right combination of words, I find them within myself, or at least attempt to. I haven't found the word for what love feels like, but if I had to describe it, love is like riding in the passenger seat.
For me personally, I find this to be incredibly logical. To anyone who knows me, I am not the best of drivers and my car is always gross and messy and smelly, meaning more often than not, if I go anywhere with other people I am not behind the wheel. Car rides have always brought me an odd sense of peace, even as a kid if I couldn't fall asleep my parents would drive around for a while until I fell asleep. Nothing has changed. I feel safe in the passenger seat. I like that there feels like a promise of adventure. The sound of music, my loved ones voice, and knowing that wherever I am going, I am not going there alone. I think that is what love is; knowing wherever you go, there is an impending feeling of adventure and you aren't going to experience it alone.
The people who take up the most room in my heart are the ones that have let me ride shotgun to their adventures, to their lives. It could be as simple as letting me come along to run errands or as complicated as tagging along to stop by a grave site for a long overdue visit. Regardless the task, regardless of how long the ride, I am honored and thankful that I get to be a part of it. Love is not just romance. Love is being along for the ride, no matter the destination.
I love the idea of love and romance, but I don't need romance to experience love. Love might have once been red roses and diamond rings, but sometimes love might just be someone to let you ride in their passenger seat, ready for wherever life takes you.