…a declaration of faith
In August of 1851, the American poetess Emily Dickinson wrote to a close friend, “I am half afraid to hope for what I long for.” The context this was written in remains ambiguous, as it has shifted through the currents of historical and emotional interpretation. But, whether we know if she was referring to the emotion of love or not, Dickinson’s words never fail to capture the essence of love in all its precarious glory.
True love is not an easy feat to describe, and the closest I can come to it is expressing the declaration of faith that is needed to entertain the possibility of unconditional love. No matter how easy our lives are or how much we hold onto our principles, people still fall victim to the perils of desirability, the awkwardness of vulnerability, and the overall uncertainty that comes from sharing one’s life with another. Given all the problems of our modern times, it seems like a daring act to hope, to declare faith in something we cannot see, or at times, feel.
So, what do I mean by a “declaration of faith?”
Love is the action of having faith in yourself and your partner—even if that faith is sometimes resting on unsteady ground—to commit to a goal that is greater than oneself or one’s partner. Love is the choice to work towards something that neither partner can see or feel at a particular moment, but that is brought closer through a mutual faith in each other’s potential to grow and evolve, even if it means on separate terms.
The choice of loving on unconditional grounds demands a hope that dares to transcend the uncertainties of the time, and commit to something larger than immediacy. And sometimes, the only thing that can save a dwindling love is renewing faith in that mutual decision to work towards something greater and more formidable than ourselves.
…a risk worth taking
I like to think that love is a gamble. It is probably one of the biggest gambles we choose to take in life, but also the most rewarding. In love, there is always a possibility of hurt and heartbreak. Love causes your personal dynamic to change, as you work the overwhelming feelings into your everyday life. Not only are you devoting time, energy, and even money into someone, but also your heart and mind. You confide in them, opening yourself up and placing yourself in a vulnerable position.
Taking these risks as you invest yourself into another person is what love is in itself. You remember how much it hurt when something like this ended before, and you are still willing to go through that again. The support they offer and the unexplainable feeling they give you deep down inside is all worth it. Just like any other gamble, the thrill of risk and reward in love is addicting.
…warm, like hot chocolate
It starts with the drawing of my attention. In the crowd, people gather together, but my sight only follows one person. Every movement, every action, every glance, every smile from her feels like the sparkle of fireworks, with a certain heat to light up my world, yet not enough to burn it. It’s just enough to leave a vivid image in mind. Perhaps after this moment, it will take me a lifetime to recall that image, but at least my endless nonluminous life could be comfort.
Then that fear of loss is drowned out by the words that jump out of her mouth.
“What’s your name?”
Her sparkle surrounds me, like fireworks being shot off nonstop. Perhaps I can save the lifetime to not recall, but to cherish the moments that I have it in my life.
From our first date in a movie theatre, to the popcorn that we shared, to the coffee we make for each other every morning. From the first day we reveal our trauma to each other, to the comfort we provide for each other whenever one of us gets hurt. We are each other’s safe zone.
And now, late at night, what she whispers in my ear makes me feel warm, like I’m drinking hot chocolate on a cold winter day, and of course, we tell each other “I love you.”
I was troubled by the concierge’s news that our room did not have a balcony. I knew the balcony was a big part of the alluring charm of the view from the window. I recall the glistening sun dancing along the bay’s water and the tranquillity of the sailboats anchored to the dock. I wondered what it looked like inside that boat. He admitted he would like to go sailing someday too. I smiled and told him it was a deal; we must go.
The room’s grandeur didn’t seem to matter as much as the fact that we were together. And what a beautiful place it was to be with him. I sat on this perfectly-made bed, and despite its grand size, we found ourselves gravitating closer to one another. Less than five feet apart, then four, then three, until one of us accidentally touched the other’s hand, and we made eye contact. I’d thought before that kissing him was the most intimate touch, and that remains true. It’s a conversation where everything becomes clear without words.
And then, we kissed. In that moment, I understood the ships’ appeal to sailors. It’s their escape from everything and everyone. From responsibility, troubles, hard labour, and struggle. When they sail out far out enough in the bay, there lies the mark of freedom. Out on the water, nothing can touch them. And right there, in that moment and space in time, it was only him and I that existed.
Nothing can touch us.
This is our escape.
This is love.