Madly in... Like?
Young “like” as we seem to be forced to refer to it, is like a dance. It’s give a little and take a little. It’s a balance between passion and propriety. It is rapture and desperation. It’s truly sweet sorrow. It’s gripping someone’s hand tight at the end of the evening because it hurts to say goodnight, but doing it with a glowing smile because they’re gripping your hand back just as tightly. It’s being shown a whole world of possibility… and then being told to wait.
Ryan and I are lying under the trampoline in his backyard, staring through its shady weave and watching the lazy summer clouds change from one beloved childhood image to the next. The cool grass feels foreign on my skin, but just as he would stand out in the snow for me, I would lay on the creepy, crawly, creature concealing lawn for him.
I roll my head to the left and look at him. “Do you remember that night, after that church activity, when we danced under the street light in the snow?”
“Yeah, I do. That was a long time ago.”
“It was! It was such a perfect moment. I loved it.”
“I loved it too.”
“Would you really go so far as to say you loved it? Or would you be more likely to say that you liked it a really, really lot.” I scrunch my shoulders in an obvious attempt to hold back a laugh as I so enjoy teasing him about his hold out on the word “love”, and I think that I’m very clever.
“He ignores me and presses on down memory lane. Remember when we listened to Les Miserables by candlelight?”
“Mmmm,” I sigh in recollection. “Bruce and Kristy were with us, a very good choice in double dating partners. They are always a good influence on you.” I elbow him and smile while he looks wounded at the implication.
“We’re lucky,” I say. “Our friends are pretty great. We don’t just watch movies, you know? We do really fun, creative things. Remember the time we all played board games and ended up laughing hysterically? We were rolling on the floor, we were laughing so hard.”
Ryan laughs and nods. “Remember that one time when everybody was watching a movie that we thought was pretty bad, so we decided together that you and I wouldn’t watch it?”
“Such a valiant effort. Never mind that we ended up alone in the next room… kissing.” The smile I give him is mixed with fondness and chastisement.
He is indignant at the world’s unfair oppression. “Well, how much can I be expected to resist? I might be a saint, but I’m not a superhero.”
The blush in my cheeks matches the heat in his meaning. I cool it off with another memory.
“Remember when you took me rafting up at Millsite? The water was so cold! My favorite part was sharing a tube, floating around with our legs in the water and our arms draped toward the center, just staring at each other.”
He props himself up on his elbow and leans over me. “My favorite part is always when I get to just stare at you.”
The minutes always twirl off into hours when I’m with Ryan. Before long, we know we should start our strolling goodbyes. We crawl out from under the trampoline and make our feet move slowly as we follow the path that leads us from his backyard.
His parents have turned the backyard into Eden. There’s a huge garden with vegetables, ripe for the picking. Irises that burst forth as if from giant kernals of popcorn, revealing yellows, purples and deep reds and misting the air with their sweet perfume. There are swaying trees and trimmed hedges and, my favorite, lilacs. The front yard is lined in fragrant, purple lilac bushes. We stop when we near them. I can’t walk by without pressing my nose to the blossoms.
“Well… I guess I’ll see you tomorrow…” I say.
“Yeah,” he says, but he looks a bit preoccupied, a bit perplexed.
“What are you thinking?” I ask.
“Oh no! You can’t say that! You can’t answer that question with ‘nothing’. Now you have to tell me.”
He has a way of hesitating; making it look like it pains him to do what he really planned on doing all along. He takes my elbows in his hands, draws me closer and looks into my eyes.
“I was just thinking that I’ve never felt this way before… and that it’s love… and… I love you.”
I hear big scene, end of the movie music growing and building. I feel a brilliant smile warming my features. I throw my arms around him and say it back with the weight of all of my feelings behind it so that he won’t mistake my sincerity.
Young love is like a dance. It’s give a little and take a little. It’s a balance between passion and propriety. It is rapture and desperation. It’s truly sweet sorrow. It’s gripping someone’s hand tight at the end of the evening because it hurts to say goodnight, but doing it with a glowing smile because they’re gripping your hand back just as tightly. It’s being shown a whole world of possibility… and then being told to wait.
Young love is true. It is real. We both know it. We both feel it. But it isn’t recommended.