What is Love? Beyond the Fairy Tales and Rom-coms
Like most girls, I grew up on fairy tales. Love, to me, was a prince searching through an entire kingdom to find the girl whose foot fit into a forgotten glass slipper. Or the dude who flew a princess across the world on a magic carpet. When I graduated from Disney to romance movies, love became defined by the guy who stood outside a girl’s window with a boom box on his shoulder. Or the man who delivers a hundred long-stemmed red roses to his love interest’s door. Love, according to every movie, novel and fairy tale I’d ever known was a thing of grand gestures and expensive gifts. And that’s true from time to time. Sometimes love looks like all those incredible stories.
And sometimes it looks like two paramedics banging on my door 30 minutes after midnight. Ok, let me explain. Friday night I’d been up talking to my boyfriend on the phone when I mentioned in passing that my chest had been hurting. I didn’t take it too seriously since it’s one of my body’s warning signs to take a break. Nothing a little shut eye couldn’t fix. A few minutes later, my boyfriend told me he’d call me back in five minutes, and I took the opportunity to rest my eyes.
That would have been perfectly fine if I hadn’t put my phone on silent earlier in the day. Not vibrate. Silent. My five minute rest turned into a thirty minute nap during which I missed 12 calls from my boyfriend and ended with thunderous knocking on my door. I jumped out of my sleep in an absolute panic. I thought my heart was going to jump out of my chest.
When I finally gathered myself together enough to answer the hammering on the door, there stood two female paramedics. They asked me if I was alright. With my heart rate through the roof and my breath coming in gasps, I wasn’t sure if the answer was really yes, but I said so anyway. After all, I was fine before I was scared awake. The paramedics advised me that a “friend in Kingston” had called to say I was having chest pain and wasn’t answering my phone.
Scared and still drowsy, it took a minute for it to click. The only person I knew in Kingston was my boyfriend. After reassuring the paramedics that my chest was fine and my rapid breathing was a symptom of fear and not a heart attack, I called my boyfriend back and let him know I was ok. He was pissed. Not because he’d needlessly called an ambulance or was about to drive two and a half hours back to Toronto to make sure I was ok. He was pissed because I’d scared the hell out of him. I must have apologized a hundred times even after he told me he wasn’t mad anymore. I felt so guilty for making him worry. But more than anything, I felt loved.
It’s moments like these that remind me that love is not just about bouquets of flowers, and perfect date nights. Don’t get me mistaken, I love gifts and surprises as much as the next girl. But alone, they’re not enough. Love is someone who cares about your well-being more than anything else. It’s all the times my boyfriend has called me to make sure I’m eating enough or reminded me to get enough sleep. It’s every time he offers to the do the dishes or buy dinner so I can get some rest. It’s in the moment he was willing to drive 263 kilometers to make sure I hadn’t stopped breathing no matter how early he had to be up in the morning. Love, for me, is in every gesture that says, “I want you to be well.”