Love is a dictionary full of definitions. Love is different with each encounter.

I am a fan of "Love Is," the black and white comic strip comic strip collection by Kim Grove. It arrives in my paper every morning and I cannot help but be intrigued by what love will be defined as next. But for some reason, love always seems to take on the verb form. Love is kissing, wanting, giving, holding, wishing, encouraging. Helping, sharing, inspiring, desiring, understanding.

But what if love were a noun, not even a person or a place, but rather a thing. A tangible object. What would love be?

Love is a permanent marker.

I remember the years of childhood when coloring was all the rage. After a while crayons no longer sufficed, washable markers seemed so childish, but permanent markers, they were the real deal.

Every child wants to use the Sharpies, maybe it is because they smell different, they bleed through the paper or they come with a warning from parents, "Don't get these all over you because it will never come off. Be very careful."

Well I remember this same warning from my parents when it came to matters of love. "Be very careful. Now hearts are involved."

We developed crushes growing up,  Marc who sat behind us in the second grade, Dayna who shared her art supplies with us. But just like crayons, we left these grade school love affairs behind.

Moving on to those washable years. We met boys and girls who we swore had our hearts in their hands. Those were the years of being invincible but unbelievably insecure, the years of wanting to be noticed and falling face first into what we thought was love. Hearts seemed to fall apart but came right back together when a new love came along. Diaries filled themselves with tales of girls who cared too much and boys who never cared at all. We were young. At times, miserable. Teenagers.

But then that permanent marker comes along. That first encounter with a person who makes our mind race, a person who we find ourselves tripping all over: a tangle of legs, arms, freckles and feelings. The first "I love you." The secrets meant for only two. The late night banter. The cracked code to our hearts. But the warning resounding in our head "Be careful. Once it is there it will never go away." Permanent.

Love is a permanent maker. We spend years bracing ourselves for it, pretending and mimicking until we finally grasp it. But once we have it we learn to be careful with it. We learn what it takes to be careful with a heart that someone gives to us. We play this game of trading hearts and we realize the permanence of this. At one point we may get our heart back; we might find it abandoned or recklessly torn, but we never forget the person we traded hearts with. The time we spent with them. The ways in which they defined us and may still do so today.

We have this moment with another forever. A moment that is never washable. A moment that will always be there.

So what is love to you?

P.S.

The premise for this "Love Is" post has been inspired by Lauren Nicole's Love +100 Strangers Project. I recommend checking it out, this girl is muy talented and the concept for this snapshot project is simple yet remarkable. Look for it also in my "cupcakes 4 thought" section.

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