d olly molly jaques ~
The first (and only) Valentines gift I have ever received was when I was twelve years old, from a boy I’d only kissed (pecked on the lips) once at my school’s firework night. There was a knock on my door and to my surprise, a delivery man was holding the most enormous bouquet of red roses, a teddy bear, and a little Moonpig card tucked into the side which read “I loe you” – an understandable typo considering our age… Ever since then, my expectations of romance have been exceptionally high.
As I grew older, and the crushes came flooding in, the talk of love started to unfold. Not the real kind of love, instead, the typical secondary school or coming of age 2000’s movie love – the ‘Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging’ sort of love. One that is completely romanticised and one that is found much more easily by going on a picnic with your friends to Eastbourne beach, instead of with a teenage boy.
I’ve always believed in 5 kinds of love:
- The unconditional love you have for family and most importantly, pets.
- The fleeting love you had for the Upper 6th rugby player with brown curtains that you’re convinced looked at you one time in the dining hall when you went up to get water.
- The deep-rooted love for your friends who are always there for you.
- The reminiscent love you have for the coffee you drank by the Colosseum in Rome and have never been able to replicate.
- And finally, the daunting love of actually falling in love – real love.
By the ripe age of nineteen, I had successfully accomplished 80% of my ‘love checklist’ and had subsequently awarded myself an A* as a result. I planned to tick off number five whilst making a name for myself in my career, preferably at the age of twenty-six. In the meantime, it would be totally irresponsible to surrender myself to that feeling when I had the opportunities to make happy, lasting memories with friends and maybe kiss a few strangers on a night out or download tinder if I needed to boost my ego. I concluded that I was in control of how I felt when I was single and falling in love would only make me vulnerable… because love is never easy.
Both my mum and I being in the dating pool at the same time was an uncanny experience. Firstly, seeing someone you care for so much, go through a breakup and heartache that you thought only happens to people in their twenties and thirties puts the fairy-tale firmly back into reality. Followed by the aftermath of petty texts you convinced her not to send through the advice of ‘write it down on your notes and if you still feel like sending it in the morning then you can’ – of course, no one ever sends that text the next morning. And finally, trying to explain to her why she should be interested in Bumble rather than Grindr and persuade her that she needs photos on her profile which were taken in the past few years instead of when she was thirty-five, otherwise she’d be considered a catfish (she’s still as beautiful as ever, so if there are any single men reading this in their fifties, get in touch!)
Of course, the only reason why I was able to attempt to give her advice was because I’d had similar experiences with my own friends. Making me realise that a breakup is just as shitty and the emotions are more or less the same, whether you’re fifteen or fifty-five. So that was it, love wasn’t for me just yet, plus, I’d read that crying aged you prematurely and any way to mitigate wrinkles before turning 30 was a must.
And then, just as the Tumblr quotes said it would, when I wasn’t looking and least expected it, I found myself falling in love. I resisted admitting the feeling to myself for a long time, but I knew I had when the idea of love no longer felt daunting, instead, it was exciting, unexpected, re-energising (and every other adjective I could possibly think of). It manifested itself differently from my other four kinds of love, but it also encapsulated aspects of each. It had the same feeling of safety as a home, the butterflies of a crush, the foundations of a friendship and instead of needing to reminisce, it could stand right in front of me. To quote Dolly Alderton, “love is a quiet, reassuring, relaxing, pottering, pedantic, harmonious hum of a thing; something you can easily forget is there, even though its palms are outstretched beneath you in case you fall.” For me there are two types of ‘real love’ – the second only starts when you realise you’ve already fallen.
So, to my twelve-year-old self – it’s not quite like the movies depict… but to my teenage self and anyone else apprehensive of falling in love, if it presents itself to you, give it a go, take the leap, it might not always be a comfortable landing, but it will be one hell of a dive.