The ones that have been spoken for me, however, and made by those who likely knew what I needed most—those are the wishes that have stayed with me… particularly this one: “I hope you have a great love story.”
Although the topic was one I could rarely dodge while working as a reporter on an island of retirees in need of playing matchmaker, this particular conversation had been a welcome one with a dear friend and her parents. I had wanted to know how her father and mother met, so they graciously regaled me with the story and spared no details of the highs and lows in spite of this being our first meeting.
Before leaving the dinner, the mother thanked me through watery eyes for asking questions that prompted answers she hadn’t thought about in a long time and the father threw me the unforgettable penny: “I hope you have a great love story.”
Me too, I remember thinking with an ache in my chest. Me too. I’m tired of holding this pen and paper.
At the time—perhaps because of my age, perhaps because of my occupation—I think I took the words as a wish for things to come that would have a distinct beginning, middle and end, instead of acknowledging that it was a story already taking place.
Now, as a teacher to teenagers who talk of nothing but love and an aunt to a nephew who is beginning to ask “Where’s your friend, Momo?” I’ve started to think much more about what actually makes for a great love story and how to answer the inevitable question that pops up during Romeo and Juliet lessons or on any Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday: Teacher, do you believe there’s such a thing as “the one”?
To be clear, I don’t intend for this to be some single girl’s manifesto for you to choke on along with those chalk-flavored candy hearts today. I don’t think anyone should ever pretend to know more or less than what he or she has experienced. But when those little hopeful romantics ask me about my love story and if I believe there’s someone for them in the midst of all this chaos, I have decided that this is my answer:
Yes, I do believe in “the one.”
In life, there will be the one who breaks your heart and the one whose heart you break.
The one who you’re not ready for and the one who is not ready for you.
The one to whom you never work up the nerve to speak one word and the one to whom you end up saying too much.
The one who pulls you on the dance floor and the one who never considers it a bad idea to order more than one dessert.
The one who teaches you that it matters to laugh together and the one who makes you cry.
The one who makes you want to be more and the one who tells you that you are enough.
Then ultimately—hopefully—there will be the one you choose to spend a lifetime loving in spite of, because of, and through all of the above.
If you’re lucky, only a few people will play more than one of these roles in your life. But if you’re smart, you’ll recognize that none of it matters outside of loving yourself first. The most important and defining relationship is the one you have with yourself, because that’s the one that affects how you treat others.
It is not a story to be written. It is one that is in progress. And I hope it’s one that you love.