It goes without saying that people change as they get older. What I have come to notice regarding this change is the fact that people who go through it, often find themselves mocking their previous understandings of ideas like love, friendship, knowledge, education, etc. Out of all of these, however, I find that my definition of love is the one thing that has evolved the most.
I remember being a school-aged girl of 13 or 14, and genuinely believing that love lies in the grand romantic fairytale like gesture that we read about in novels, and watch in movies. In my head, love was that guy who stands at the bottom of my balcony and declares his love to me while playing a guitar; love was that big marriage proposal; love was a surprise dinner at the fanciest restaurant in town; love was a grand declaration shouted from a rooftop while the rain was pouring.
10 years later, I really find myself coming to terms with the idea that love is really not about any of those things. While I am still a sucker for a good old romantic gesture, I have come to learn that the absence of such gestures does not, at all, signify the absence of true love or genuine care.
I have seen it happen myself, not just to me, but to friends of mine: he is charming, he is rich, he sweeps her off of her feet, he surprises her by having presents delivered to her doorstep, but she needs more, she needs much more. Love lies in those small conversations and gestures that ensure the other party that you are a part of his/her future, it is about those small text messages that make you feel like you are a genuine part of someone’s daily routine.
I do not essentially mean the “I miss you” nor the “I love you” text messages, I mean the messages which read “Hey babe, are you working late today? Let me know because you are usually home by 5 pm, and it’s 7 pm.” This person is so involved with your life and daily routine that he/she knows what time you get home, he/she knows when to worry; this person does genuinely miss your presence, so much so that he/she has taken the time to check in on you.
Love to me is no longer the romantic flower bouquet, it is a necklace made out of jasmines sold by street vendors in Egypt that your loved one buys you (because he remembers that one time you talked about how sad it was that they no longer sell these necklaces like they used to when you were nine years old). It is the company, the conversation, the care, and the memories that come with all these things.
Love is having someone — not just love, but admire the person you are. Love is no longer being blinded to someone’s flaws; it is being aware of them, but still choosing to spend everyday with those flaws, and choosing to have conversations about making compromises again, and again, and again.
Love is that thing I saw last night, when my girlfriend’s boyfriend took out his camera phone because he thought she looked really pretty in the particular lighting set up at that New Cairo restaurant, and he just snapped a picture of her for his own keeping. Love really isn’t those large declarations, found in the thousands of pictures that some couples tend to post on social media.
I am by no means saying that I have the definition of love locked down. In fact, the most important thing I have learned is anyone who tells you they have this particular definition locked down, is a liar who doesn’t understand the full depth of the topic they are discussing. What I am saying, however, is that growing up is a journey, and that along this journey I have come to learn that love lies within the most intricate, intimate, and tiniest details of human interaction.