‘LOVE IS___’

The closest you’ll get to me talking about love is mostly through short poetry, tweets all over the place or hanging out long enough with me in person. I suspect this desire to go into a little more depth and explore these thoughts and feelings could be a result of me turning a year older very soon. I am also guilty of indulging in episodes of Love Is__ more than once as they come out. The new romantic drama series is set in 1990s LA documenting the creator’s real life love story with her husband, told from their perspective in real time, twenty years after the fact.

It is worth mentioning that I am admittedly already starting to feel quite vulnerable as I type this. What resonates the most about this series at this point, is the portrayal of what love tends to look like for Black women; a portrayal that I don’t often get to see outside of venting sessions with my girls or aunts at family gatherings. Without being a complete douche and including spoilers because it is a recommended watch from me — I will say that the three episodes I have watched so far have felt uncomfortably and comfortably familiar (although it is geared towards a happier ending which is a necessary narrative and I am excited to see how that unfolds). From the beginning though, I am watching a woman who was casually seeing other people and going about her life, not necessarily having to settle, but at some point, from what I assume, build the man that her heart has decided on.

This is one of the main factors that has had the concept of loving someone terrify me more than it has inspired me over the years despite the very hopeless romantic that I am. I would find myself saying things like “I do not want a husband and children” and I would really mean it. I sincerely started to associate love with struggle, with being drained of energy, with labor, uncertainty and turning the other cheek as opposed to connecting and building with someone in one of the most pure and beautiful ways. Outside of my own experiences, I would hear and see the trend validated by women around me and strangers alike. It would make me so sad because many of us are actually too young to be this repulsed or traumatized by the possibility of a real and true love.

It is interesting now thinking about what I think love should be. Like I said, as I approach turning another year older I wonder about whether the narrative can change as my desires definitely have. Lately I have started to feel more open to the idea and this is also as a result of deep interrogation of the self; understanding that I too am not perfect, understanding that there are opportunities for me to constantly learn and grow as well as understanding that choosing to do life with someone does not have to be ugly work.

I’ve become very big on reflective work — I like to question how and why I act a certain way at certain points and I think that is always a good place to begin. By constantly looking in on yourself, you begin to train the way in which you relate to and react to people around you. You can identify how certain behaviors are harmful or helpful towards them and I think that is an aspect I was lacking when I was guarded by the way love may have treated me in the past. Fundamentally, it is just starting to feel like I am becoming more sure about myself and I am also more certain about what I want to let in and what I want to keep out.

It is a very strange place to be in but it is also quite exciting. Prior to this, I wasn’t a typically big long term dater. I usually tell people I’ve only had two real boyfriends. I am not sure if it was a preference, circumstance or fear thing that had me more into short-lived encounters; perhaps it was a combination of all three. Nonetheless, I am starting to feel more open to the possibility of building memories that don’t necessarily have to end up hurting in the end. And much like the timing of most things, I think that it is so important to have narratives like this floating across our screens for women like myself who had written them off as fiction.

I think the main message, if I am receiving it right, is that when it comes down to it, good love is achievable if you are willing to explore it and design its parameters once you understand who you are both outside and inside of it.

— N

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