Pink happens to be my favorite color. Yet, I’m not that excited to see stores boast hues of pink and red as this time of year approaches. 

The l word didn’t exist for me until Valentine’s Day. As a kid, I was always excited by the prospect of Valentine’s: how lovely it is that we have a day dedicated to showing affection and care for those in our life. I dreamed of dramatic confessions, endless bouquets of roses and taking time to appreciate one another in typical romantic-comedy fashion. I believed that Valentine’s Day enabled people to be brave enough to say “the l word.”

Since then, I’ve been tying some sort of magic to the day. A couple of years ago, I would have been hoping for my own Patrick Verona to walk through the door. In high school, I might’ve thought about the boy in my geometry class sending me a candy-gram — anonymously of course — to jumpstart our high school sweethearts story. Last year, it would’ve been nice to grab Starbucks with someone. But you see, none of these aims ever came true. I was set up by the rom-com industry and Hallmark holiday that is Valentine’s Day. And before I knew it, “the l word,” whether in text or out loud, left me feeling sick. 

Recently, I’ve been thinking about why it’s so hard for me to even say “the l word.” Maybe because it’s sacred to me. Maybe because my mom never said it. Maybe because I’ve only seen it on a television screen. Maybe because I don’t think it belongs to me. Maybe it’s not even real. 

My friends and I often say that your perception of “the l word” is based on its presence around you. So, I’ve been searching for it. For love. Yes, love. In old photos, hand-me-down clothes and in every fold of a love letter. And I can tell you, it’s real.

I see it when my mom silently leaves a plate of peeled mandarins on my desk. My uncles who fight to pay the bill at a restaurant. Friends that send each other songs that remind them of each other. Sending audio messages over texting. My favorite is when partners hold onto each other’s belongings so gently while the other is occupied. Plus, all the moments we can’t see or don’t know about. Like how you think of someone in your Duas (prayers). Or looking forward to their name under your notification bar. 

It’s not the break-out-in-song-and-dance or Taylor Swift’s “Love Story” type of love that I’ve always envisioned, but it is love. While it’s nice to hear and see the word this Valentine’s Day, it doesn’t always have to be said aloud. Hidden amidst the pink hearts and bubble lettered l word, it’s the beautiful action of love that finds itself everywhere.


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