When I was filing through my grandmother’s old books a few years ago, I came across a little gem. It was a treasure chest that I had used no map to find, just pure luck. Now that’s an unadventurous tale full of curiosity and wonder. I opened a small book that was crumbling at the spine, pages slipping out like cards in a deck weakly held. Inside it was a piece of tissue paper, a store brand printed in sheer ink multiple times across the tissue, on which the words “I Love You” was neatly written in beautiful black ink. It looked like a cheap ballpoint pen, one you’d accidentally steal from the kid in your class whom you borrowed it from. I hung it up in my bedroom and I think about it everytime I see it. There is something so vague about it that keeps me watching its light composure wave at me under the breath of the wind that ripples its ink. It stares at me. All I can think about is why it was written and to whom.
The idea of love is a very complex one for me. There is a biological, clinical side of me that states that love is merely a series of chemicals in your brain which is a response to seeing a fit mate. It is a reproductive necessity to pass on our strongest genes into the next generation. The humanity in me is what jumbles it all up. Life in its roots is clinical. There are names for everything and chemical compositions of materials. But what makes life live is so much more than fancy Latin names and covalent bonds. Humans take the concept of love and whether through religion or their own unique view of the world, they make love into something. And to everyone, that something is different.
That’s what interests me about this particular paper and these words. I want to know who wrote the words and how they knew they loved the person. I want to know if the other person received the note and reciprocated feelings. I also want to know what thing tipped the words to be written. What small action finally pushed the person into confessing three of the most vulnerable words ever. The cherry on top is that this little piece of tissue paper was tucked in an old book and someone kept it, maybe unintentionally, for all these years. And now it is in my hands.
I thrive on the ideas that human emotions are universal, yet they are so diverse in execution and association.
I say that I don’t believe in love, and that is still a very true statement. What I really mean is that I do not believe in love the way you do.