Fill her with wonder. Convince her that the feeling is less the flitting of butterflies and more the plumping of caterpillars: fuzz filling her insides and, at the first blush of reciprocation, it is the spinning of a chrysalis, the building of a silken borough that may open at the flutter of a first kiss or the airy bliss of barely touching hands.
This is what she needs to know of love.
It is tender missives full of youth’s hyperbole. In an amoebic form, it can begin in the sandbox. The boy who pastes his sloppy lips to the peachy round of her cheek may mean it.
He is not always a mimic.
This will be important for her to carry later. Tell her to pocket your promise: men do not always mimic.
They are not crude facsimiles of the fathers who failed their mothers. They are not the statistical likelihoods our cynical culture will claim. Not always.
There are some who are not conquistadors; they will not treat you as a creature to be branded or broken.
There are some who do not view you as an isle of escape; their gaze will not turn scornful upon learning than you are more than a port toward which they can sail.
Love is more than a welcome distraction. It is everything Paul’s first letter to Corinth suggests. But it does not always manifest itself as patient. It does not always know what it means to be selfless. It is rarely aware of how susceptible it makes us to hurt.
We must be careful with it and pray that it is careful with us.
Love is minutia, but it is also the momentous. Do not let your sentiment shortchange you. Never believe that it is only holding one another or whispering hopes under moonlight. It is the sharing of considerable assets. It is the saving to jet off to Greece. It is the dowry he stored for a marital house and the decision that you should be its cohabitant.
Love is an insulation from the shrapnel of the outside world’s criticism. It is a conduit for longing.
It looks like this when it has no able recipient** (ff to 5:16):
It feels like this, when under-explored:
Do not tell her that when it goes bad, it bulldozes. Don’t tell her it lays waste to what you were.
There are some things she should learn of her accord. Her love will lead her through a labyrinth quite different than your own.
Just pray that at its end, she finds a mirror. Hope that when she peers at the woman inside it, she still recognizes her as herself.
* Shout-out to Raymond Carver for the title of this post.
** The embedded clips here are from Richard Linklater’s 2004 sequel, Before Sunset. If you haven’t seen it or its predecessor, Before Sunrise, get yet to Netflix, post-haste. Add a baby and some melanin to Celine in that first clip and she is me.