by Zarelle Glen Dorothy A. Villanzana | March 8, 2023
I understand it now, this craving for romance. By the utterance of the word, a holler would be heard from the hallways, shrieks and howls caused as if people have turned into a pack of wolves. A trigger from the crowd is evoked, one that varies in effect, dependent on the person’s situation. Sparks would fly, and inevitably, sneers uncontained by those struck by the bitter resolution that they have none in their lives—or so they think. A third of the population would be unmoved, devoid of interest as they have more important matters to ponder. Most would think I belong there, and I wish I still was. It all seemed easier.
Now I magnify the little things, give meaning to minor details, and reflect on past events wishing I had been more attentive. Maybe then I would have secured something (someone) by now, or that I’ve experienced the very thing others so longed to have. It’s a silly thought, and the adults would tell me I’m too young. At a young age, I am made very much aware of putting my priorities straight. However, I would be lying if I said I never thought about it once at this age.
Pieces of advice are redundant: love yourself first, you cannot pour from an empty cup, don’t rush things as they will come in due time, family is forever, and you are too young to be worrying about love. I do not worry, but is it not natural to desire? We are human after all.
All the more, it is heightened by everyone else’s same preoccupation. It is heightened with every poetic song lyric dedicated to another, with every romantic encounter found in fiction or in reality, with every existing relationship deemed healthy. I hush it down and drench myself in work in hopes that it is only boredom. “I am better than this,” I think; “I don’t need this,” I think; “I am too young,” I think; “There are far more important things,” I think.
Quietly, I bottle up the emotion, hoping it dusts away and disappears. I recognize it as a threat, as I have been taught. Although, it can’t be helped. It jumps out without warning, and I am left puzzled in taming it, quite perplexed as to how I could escape the constant ebbs and flows. But like the ocean, are the waves ought to be restrained? Don’t the surfers find delight in their magnitude? Even the onlookers, the regular people, do they not appreciate the mere existence of the waters?
A slideshow plays in my head, a collection of moments in media dabbling on the theme of love. There are too many, but standing out is Jo’s monologue from Little Women. The last part emphasized, most times left out, her voice trembles to say, “But I’m so lonely.” This same person who told her sister that she would be bored with her lover and that their sisterhood will be interesting forever, who valued her independence more than to be weighed down by the idea of marriage, who would put her family first and career second—she was the same person who realized later she cared more to be loved by someone, anyone.
“That is not the same as loving,” her Marmee would say.
It is not the same as loving. Being loved is not the same as loving. Perhaps then that is how it should be. If we cannot receive the love we so desire yet, then at least let us be the first ones to lay it out, to give it away. If we cannot learn to love ourselves first, then at least we can learn to explicitly love other people, and in doing so, familiarity would make it easier to treat ourselves likewise. Our own capacity for compassion will inevitably establish the reciprocation we search for everywhere. It is never easy, but humanity cannot come from anywhere else but ourselves. In a world devoid of emotion, let love be an act of rebellion.
Valentine’s Day may seem an exclusive celebration of reciprocated love, but looking past the blinds, a wide space is dedicated to the day-to-day givers, those who are capable of expressing love through gifts, gestures, or words, without expectation, perhaps a little hesitation, but braving through nonetheless, and regardless of the result, is still content—all this, just because they can.