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A Teenage Girl and Her Quest to Understand Love

"Love is the answer to everything. It's the only reason to do anything. If you don't write stories you love, you'll never make it. If you don't write stories that other people love, you'll never make it." — Ray Bradbury

          Strike one.

No fireworks. All tongue. All slobber.

The hopeless romantic in me wanted things to work out with this boy. In my mind, I wrote in the memory of fireworks, and cut out the guilt I had from hiding this moment from my parents.

One month in: his increasingly gloomy presence made me realize he was turning into my Hamlet, and I his Ophelia, dealing with his moodiness while still caring deeply about him. If I don’t stop this relationship now, I might go insane.

I was madly in love.

                                      With the idea of us being in love.

        Strike two.

Charmingly awkward. Less tongue. A bit dumb-witted.

We were the real life equivalent to any Julia Roberts rom-com. We would hold             hands while walking down the busy streets of Santa Ana after school. Once, he let me wear his giant black jacket while we were watching Shakespeare under the stars. (Bonus points: He likes Shakespeare).

It felt easy. I was comfortable.

3 months in: Something was missing. Although, I couldn’t put a finger on it.

Is he really the one?

That question swirled as fast as a tempest in my mind; and the only way to stop it from spinning is to question every little nook and cranny of our relationship.

I looked so hard for the answer, but the only thing I came to realize was:

  1. He uses this annoying voice when he’s trying to be funny.

  2. He has sweaty hands.

  3. He’s not very passionate.

Tisha, you are clearly NOT in love with this boy.

Strike three.

Volunteering tonight at the theatre consists of letting the singing pirates in. The last pirate trickles in.

We share a look. Time slows down for a moment.

His smile is infectious, and you could get lost in those eyes and not care about if you would ever escape.

He hands me a plastic gold coin from his pocket and urges me to come find him after the show. Cheesy, but romantic enough for butterflies to infiltrate my stomach.

                     And so I do as he said.

A quick post-show conversation evolves into a relationship. We talk on the phone until we see darkness turn into light. We dream about our future while playing Frank Sinatra at a park, watching the cars drive by. My head finds a spot to settle on his shoulder, and my smile is too big to hide.

Summer comes to an end, and so does the relationship. How did something that felt so right just end ?

                                 Three strikes.

                                                             I’m out.

          Third day of an acting intensive.

I was taught by my darling mentors, Asha and Michael. I’m convinced that they are made up of all the goodness in this universe. The presence in the room switches from a cold ambiguity to a warm comfort every time they walk in. I’m both jealous and mesmerized by their superpowers.

Today, they wrapped a blanket of warmth around my fragile heart.

We play pretend. They pretend they hadn’t heard me hyperventilating over the phone. I pretend I hadn’t ruined their movie night.

                             Ding.

                             Asha: We’ll talk after class about this, okay?<3

I bottle up my emotions and set it aside for the next 7 hours.

          7 hours, 5 minutes, 3 seconds later.

The last student walks out of the door. Michael finds a seat next to me and rubs my back. Asha looks at me and says everything and nothing at the same time.

My grenade of emotions completely obliterate me.

The two, without an ounce of selfishness, wrap me in their arms so tight, that I can hear myself being pieced back together.

No fireworks. All vulnerability. All compassion.

                                                                                     This is what love feels like. 

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