Whether familial, platonic, spiritual love or romantic love (even when it is unrequited), we sure know self-love encompasses it all. We have to love ourselves to be able to give love pure and unfiltered. One thing love does when it casts its net is turn us into poets with dreamy eyes, imaginative minds, and cozy tongues. Love does have a spell that enchants its way into the magical realm. Isn’t it interesting how we fall in and out?

Love: the moment a mother looks at her newborn, you know the child has found a home to go back to when broken. The rhythm and cadence of a fluttering heart. The butterflies that dance in the belly, falling and being caught mid-air. It is like the woody smell of a book, and every day is replenished with a new chapter that keeps the excitement and suspense alive. A friend of mine told me, “I have found a friend in my pet. When the nights are lonely, and the darkness of the mind boggles me, my cat snuggles closer like a duvet covering me up.”

We are grateful to friends that have come and gone and those that have stood the test of time. Those that hug us with understanding first, their bosoms a place of rest until our cries and hiccups subsided, our shoulders slurping in resolve. They do understand if we don’t want to talk about it, the silence is understandable. Their eyes are a mirror seeing through the shadow our eyes carry.

When my grandmother boils the bitter leaf, hoping to remove the sting of bitterness, it resists the steam. I will bite it to check if the sting resisted the steam even though I know it is called bitter leaf for a reason. Its bitterness is coarse on my tongue and my face squeezes like paper while chewing it but I always swallow. It leaves an aftertaste of a lollipop; sweet, faint, and steady. That is the hope that comes with unrequited love. You know it is futile, but you hope it will find you in the dimly lit room; hope is a dangerous thing to have because how would the eyes find someone in little light?

Love is believing in an unseen being or an idea of one or an idea of the nonexistence of one. Nurturing that idea, watering it, the sun giving it enough minerals and nutrients to stay alive, striving beyond unforeseen circumstances and trials. Its stalk grows more robust, a branch of leaf today, a bigger one tomorrow, and another the next day until its leaves are big, the blades are touching the ground, standing upright in its full glory with an inexplicable glow.

It is blurry. Like a motion picture, the images aren’t clear. Love is what makes the heart constrict, tightening the reins until it chokes the strings of the heart. When you think of how melancholic that is, you know it is an element so strong, its strengths sometimes overpower us. If you believe love is a vacuum that must be filled, know that no one completes anyone — and even if they did, it wouldn’t be a complete person. It would be a person with a void filled by someone with their void.

I sometimes wonder if real love exists. I wonder if it is about grand gestures, romance, and everything in between. If it is about the strong, passionate things that move you to do some of the things you usually don’t do. If you say, real love exists ready for possession, what then is fake love? You soon realize that it is the anti of love in every form it can present itself: love is or love isn’t. Love or possessiveness. Love or obsession. Love as an element of survival? Or love as an ego boost. But then, lucky for you or lucky for us, you get to experience it once, twice, thrice, or four times; lucky for us. We get to savor the aftertaste of bitter leaf in well lit rooms that hope easily found us in.

There are a couple of things that are my loves. I love myself and everything I stand for. I love how kind I am. My empathetic self believes we are humans after all and deserve some sort of atonement and forgiveness one way or another. I love friendships, the genuine ones. I love solitude; I should get a dollar bill every time someone tells me how reserved I am. Sometimes, it can be unhealthy, but I love the silence. I love women; I love how beautiful women are and can be. I love God. He is my babe (oh, I believe God is a woman) sometimes or most times. I love to listen, I might not say much, but I love the glint in your eyes when you talk to me. I love the simple things; I get emotional so quickly, so go easy on me. I love pictures, memories are meant to be kept. I love art, and I am falling in love with music.