As I walk through Frist in far more of a rush than the day warrants, a friend calls my name and draws my attention to the SHARE table by the welcome desk. She wants me to define “love” on a whiteboard. I am more than happy to “pledge to intervene,” but as I look at the blank space, marker in hand, I feel this intense desire to produce beautiful language to encompass our love.

As the clock ticks ever closer to the 1:30 start time of my Econometrics course, my previous rush is almost warranted. I scribble something vague and generic, something that applies to my relationship with my mother as much as it applies to ours. It applies to my friends to varying extents as well, to some more so than to you. I do love them. But do I love you differently?

We’re lying there, drifting off to sleep and I wrap my arms around you, squeezing perhaps too tightly. I tell you I love you. Do I even know what love is?

I roll over and pull the covers up to my chin. You roll as well and whisper into my ear that you love me too. Maybe you know?

They say love is being able to count on one another, regardless of circumstance. But then why weren’t you there at 9:30 p.m. when I was curled up outside Guyot, hysterically crying at the idea of losing you? Do you really love me?

They say love is accepting one another as is, marveling at the imperfections and delighting at the quirks. But then why do I keep asking you to change for me? I swear I love you.

They say love is the effortless nature of time together. But then why are we working so damn hard? Don’t we love each other?

I’m scrolling through Facebook, and my whiteboard-bearing photo blends into hundreds of others. Their love is warm hugs and support. It’s consent and laughter.

Our love is confusing and sometimes painful. It’s filled with tears, sometimes the product of bad jokes, sometimes a result of discussions that leave me questioning what I believe in. Our love makes me smile at the oddest moments. It steals countless hours which I can barely survive without you, and so many more spent looking into your eyes. My friends tell me I’m overthinking it, but when you’re the only one in the world who matters, what else am I supposed to contemplate?

I’m not certain if it’s my disbelief in the existence of pure happiness and my subconscious mind’s undying efforts to complicate things that leaves me unsettled. Perhaps it’s the fact that love requires far more ink than the marker contains, and far more space than the whiteboard offers. But I promise, I love you. Whatever that’s supposed to mean.

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