Maybe it was 2003, or it could have been 2004. Regardless, around that time, my college boyfriend introduced me to a little TV show called Ed. We would eat pizza dip that his mom fixed and watch new episodes each week. The series didn’t last long (for some reason, most of the shows that I enjoy, even now, don’t seem to make it long term), but I quickly became invested in its quirky sense of humor and idealistic approach toward love. After all, it makes total sense to go back to your hometown, open up a bowling alley/law office and pine after your high school sweetheart (conveniently still living there, obviously).

In one scene, Ed went to the aforementioned sweetheart’s house and threw frozen waffles at her window (the other five people out there who might be reading this will surely remember the back story here). Why do I remember this in such detail? For whatever reason, this became some totally unrealistic standard of romantic gestures. Let’s be realistic – how many people do you know who have actually thrown waffles (or any other frozen object, for that matter) at their beloved’s house? First, waffles are too tasty to waste (depending on the quality of the waffle). Second, while I guess it’s slightly less stalker-ish than blasting Peter Gabriel at someone’s window, throwing anything at someone’s house (at least in my neck of woods) is sort of asking for a call to the police.

No matter – when you’re young, and your biggest problem is whether or not you’ll make enough in tips at your waitressing job to cover your cell phone bill, this sort of gesture was a high bar for future relationships. I guess it wasn’t surprising – we are inundated with this sort of unrealistic expectation regarding love and relationships every day. In the movies, on the radio, online, and of course on TV.

Here’s the truth – in a way, wanting grand, undying and passionate love is admirable and something to strive for. Everyone deserves to really, truly love and to be equally loved. However, it’s unlikely to come via waffle.

Instead, love – and really, I don’t mean to refer only to the romantic sense of love, but bear with me – is insidious. It creeps up on you. It sneaks in with small gestures and with large acts of selflessness. In order to really appreciate it, we need to be realistic.

This is why I find shows like The Bachelor so irritating. Sure, it can be entertaining, if that’s what you’re into. But I can’t really fathom that anyone could believe the show is anything OTHER than entertainment. Love isn’t sustained by pomp and flash. We might be a lot happier if we all got regular all-expenses paid vacations to tropical islands, but at some point, real life has to go on.

Here’s what happens when it does – you find out in no short order that life can be beautiful and devastating all at once, and there are two truths here.

The first is that you can only ever REALLY depend on yourself – and I don’t mean because you can’t depend on your friend or your husband or your father. I only say that because life isn’t fair, and sometimes the person you look up to and have depended on all of your life can be taken away rather suddenly. One unyielding truth about love is that you must first appreciate and love yourself, because you will have to get yourself through many difficult situations in life. You can have all the love and support in the world, but ultimately, you have to decide to (fill in the blank with the act of your choice) get up in the morning and go on living life.

That being said, love really and truly won’t let you do this alone. Love waits for you to decide that you want to pick yourself up, and it offers you a hand when you’re ready.

In the past two years, I have learned this. I have also learned that love has many facets – sometimes, it’s literally cleaning up the crap of the person you love. Don’t ask how I know this. Love doesn’t hesitate to put its hand in the dirt.

But love can also cut deep. When you have been through the wringer, very often you hurt. Sometimes, the people you love the most feel the fallout – maybe it’s more that you want someone to hurt WITH you more than it is that you actually want to HURT them. Regardless, love can be painful. Sometimes you have to put your own goals and dreams aside because, as we all know, life often doesn’t seem to cooperate with our plans. Maybe you put your dreams aside in order to care for someone you love.

It’s not guaranteed that person will be able to return the favor, but love will try.


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