On the train this past Friday, a disheveled man who looked like he hadn’t slept indoors in a while turned to me and said, “It is my job to find the one that I love.” Then he continued his rant about how many push-ups and pull-ups he does daily, using the metal poles to demonstrate. I mustered a polite smile, which is one of New York’s many subway etiquette rules (right next to “don’t squeeze into seats that look like they’ll be tight fits” and “if you see something, say something”). But it was hard to smile, because his words struck a nerve with me.
I have made it my mission to be loved, and it is slowly tearing me apart. Yes, my mother and family love me, and so do the friends that I constantly count on. But I want the type of love that does not fit into any boxes, not strictly romantic, platonic, or familial. It is warm, and thinking about it makes me imagine running through the woods without ever having to stop, free and with few worries. It is the type of love that would hold you back from doing anything horrible.
My elementary school teachers used to teach us to take a moment while we were reading a novel to reflect on the story, but now I do this with my life. I ask myself, Am I happy? At first, I answer, Yeah, of course. I just hung out with so-and-so. But a few moments will pass, and I realize how temporary that joy is, that I am lying to myself about my own emotions.
I don’t want to feel as if my life will only be validated if I have that kind of unconditional love from someone else. I want to be able to wade through this seemingly endless river of confusion without holding someone’s hand. ♦