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      What is love?


I never believed in love. I heard people talking about it, describing it, and acting as if it was the most weird yet wonderful thing in the world. But I never believed in it.

Throughout my school career, I had been the girl who had the secret crush, but would never tell. I was the fat and ugly friend of the gorgeous babes and no guy ever even talked to me. I had only girl-friends, was a complete feminist, and learnt to believe that men were just not worthe trouble.

Then in my freshman year of university, I left behind my life as I had known it, and 'living on my own', as it were. I made new friends, became more open to things like alcohol and flirting, and even made some casual male friends.

One night, I went out with a group of people,of whom I did not know too many, except for two girls, who had decided that that would be the night they would *properly* introduce me to alcohol.

And they did.

After 3 glasses of rum and coke, I hit the dance floor with my two girlfriends, like never before. I was enjoying myself SO much and thought of nothing but the music, though I also realised how much the alcohol had gone to my head. After a while, the boys in our group also started dancing with us, and it was obvious that everybody had had a lot to drink. One guy in particular began dancing with me, and I enjoyed this special kind of attention that I rarely received. I knew who he was, and where he was from, yet I couldn't remember his name, and I definitely did not know him as a friend.

In about five minutes, we had already broken off from the rest of the group, and were dancing with out arms around each other. And then, before I knew it, he was kissing me, and I was kissing him back.

I felt awkward because the first thought that came into my mind was how I had only just broken up with another guy about a month ago. He had been mediterranean, and I had had a crazy infatuation for him from the moment I had set my eyes on him, but although he was a very fun person to be around, he ended up being a disappointing boyfriend whom I couldn't trust or rely upon. I figured how unhappy he actually made me, and was very happy to end the bond that had never quite transformed into a "relationship".

And here I was, kissing another guy. I thought about how embarassed I would actually be when we would leave the nightclub, when I would have to see him day after day in the university. And yet, I enjoyed my little excitement of the night. He was a beautiful kisser, and I loved the way he held me.

As it turned out, when we left the nightclub, amidst the sniggering and giggling of our other friends, we were still together. Though I was much more sober when the music stopped at 2am, I was still holding his hand as we climbed the stairs, and his arms were still around me as we queued for the cloakroom. A light rain had settled in as we were walking back to college, and though we had both realised what we had done by this point, he was still holding my hand as we crossed the river by the bridge in the sprinkling rain, talking about ourselves, our courses, and how wonderful university was turning out to be. It was almost the end of the night, but we still hadn't asked each other's name, yet our hands were still clasped together. It was hard for me to believe. But it made me feel protected; it was almost as though he KNEW that I was a novice when it came to alcohol, and wanted to walk me back home even though our group was still in sight.

We parted at the bottom of the stairs, and went to our separate rooms, but not before he told me "See you tomorrow". I don't know why, but his smile made me feel wonderful that there would be a tomorrow when I would see him again.

The next day, of course, I felt differently. I could not believe what I had done, and I was slightly ashamed of myself. And yet, when I thought of Alexis, I smiled to myself. My friends wouldn't let me hear the end of it either, but we all met for lunch that very next day, I realised that he was just as embarassed about what had happened, and we did not talk to each other at all. As days went by, he was the one who always attempted to make conversation, and although I began to relax again in his presence, there was always something unspoken hanging between us. Our friends always wanted to know what we were planning to do about 'it', but the fact that we had met under such hazy circumstances, made this very difficult.

One day, my bright girlfriends decided that it was time to do SOMETHING, so they persuaded me to go knock on his door, and talk to him, ease things up a little, give him my telephone number. But I was terrified! I realised that he probably didn't want to have anything to do with me, and was regretting the night he had got so drunk and embarassed himself. Yet somehow, my friends convinced me that the way he looked at me, felt shy, but was still friendly, conveyed that he liked me. So in the end, I agreed that he could have my number, but that I was not going to give it myself.

I left after that, and went back to my own room, while my friends went to his room, and asked him if he wanted to play pool, or go to the bar, as the rest of the group were studying that night, and there was nobody to go out with. Then they asked him what was going on between us, and he said he really didn't know, which was when they offered him my telephone number, and encouraged him to call me sometime.

The next day, he called me. We met again in the afternoon, this time in my room, but we were both very shy despite the fact that we loved kissing each other. We continued to see each other now and again, since our friendship group was the same, but he was always very shy. One day, frustrated with his lack of initiative and enthusiasm in front of me and my friends, I sent him a message saying how his behaviour confused, and left me wondering where we were heading.

Yes, it was time to have a 'talk'.

Surprisingly, the 'talk' was a very open one, and left us as better friends. Not only did we reveal to each other that we both wanted a serious relationship, we also talked about our ex's, and then, as per usual, academics and philosophy drifted into the conversation.

After that, things began flowing smoothly. We discovered that we both had a lot in common, whether it be the love for studying, or travelling, philosophy, and social psychology! We began to get very comfortable in each others' company, and as our friendship flourished, so did our love for each other, something that all our friends could see. One day, he told me that he loved me, something that nobody had ever told me before. It felt... wonderful... I loved it when he told me that I was beautiful, or when he smelled my hair, or held my hand in front of everybody. And I loved his deep blue eyes, his childish traits, and the way he talked about his future, his family, his friends, his country...

When we had to break up for Easter vacation, I could not comprehend how I would spend an entire month without seeing him, as he was going to stay back at university, and I was going back to see my parents, who lived more than 3 hours away. I missed him the whole time; when I was having fun, when I went away to Spain on holiday, when I saw his photograph, when I chatted with him online.

I decided to surprise him by returning to university a week earlier than he had expected. And I was thrilled by his laughter and happiness when he couldn't believe that I was there, back with him. Kissing him again after a total of four weeks was the most amazing feeling I have ever had. I wanted to hold him forever, talk to him all night, and... to make love... something we had been unable to do in the 2 months we had been together.

I was a virgin, and when he first wanted to sleep with me, I was anxious and afraid, and just did not want to. But he was willing to wait. But even when I decided that I did not care about it anymore because I loved him, we were unable to. And it was still the case when I returned to university after 4 weeks; even amidst all the passion and love, it did not work for us.

But when, a month later, during the stress of exams, we finally managed, our union was complete. It worked. It changed some things, but we carried on as before, being great friends, and cute lovers.

Five months flew faster than we had expected, being an exchange student, it was time for him to go back home to his own country in June. We did not talk about what we would do when we finally had to part until the very last week of term. And what he said was totally unexpected. He was pessimistic about a long-distance relationship, and said he did not want to ruin what we had by laying it open to the consequences of distance and time. As I lay beside him with the tears flowing down my cheeks, the words refused to leave my mouth. I could not imagine how life without him would be, and yet, I did not have the courage to say it out loud, because I felt that he would never understand. At 3am that morning, I left his room, still crying, and wondering where we would be in a weeks' time, as we both departed from university.

The next afternoon, he came to my room and said he was sorry to have made me cry. He told me never to be unhappy again; he made me promise to him that no matter what happened, I would be happy.

"Happiness is a decision we have to make, it doesn't just happen, and you are a wonderful girl, Meg, never stop smiling."

But something had changed. That night, as I left Alexis' room, I remembered my old self. The feminist. The cynic. The nihilist who saw no meaning in life. I remembered how I had never needed anybody to give me my happiness, to survive in this world. And though I still loved Alexis, I would not die without him. The world would not stop; life would still go on, no matter what. I knew that I had had my share of crying that night, and no matter what turn our relationship was going to take, I would accept it with a smile, and carry on.

I told all this to Alexis over the internet, through an offline message that he received 24 hours after I had figured all this out. And ultimately, it made him change his mind. Of course, his initial suggestion had shaken me up pretty bad, and made me re-think the love I felt for him. Did he, I asked myself, love me as much as I loved him? Or was I just losing myself completely, and being protective because this was my first real relationship, whereas he had been in longer ones before? I forced myself to be less open, and appear less vulnerable. Though Alexis had never once hurt my feelings, and would always try his hardest to make me happy, I did not want him to think about my happiness before his own. I wanted us to part in a way that left us the hope to meet again, but if, too, any of us ever felt unhappy because of the long-distance relationship, then would have the freedom of communicating this to the other.

The first days of being away from university were the hardest. All I could think of was my international friends, and Alexis, with whom I had the spent the entirety of my final week at college. I wanted to be with him, to hug him, and kiss him, but the intensity of these feelings diminished after the first week. It was almost as though my subconscious recognised that that phase of my life had passed, and would never come back.

I began to forget. The exchange society parties, the nights out with my best friends, the philosophical discussions with Alexis, were already becoming a thing of the past. I struggled to remember his voice, the cute ways in which he attempted to impersonate me, how he used to call me a child, and then pretend to be a child himself, his love for food, and his eyes... his lovely blue eyes, which, when they turned to me, always gave me the feeling that I was special.

I know I will meet him again. Somewhere. Sometime. And I know we will have changed, and grown in different directions. Our two paths, which had become one for a short, beautiful period of time, have once again become separate. But still, I believe. I believe in love. I don't know whether this is what is called "falling in love", and whether or not it has made me blind, irrational, or too idealistic, but I know that I love Alexis. When I am with him, or when I think of him, I am happy and content, and I wish I could transform that one moment, into eternity. I wish our love, in spite of all the complications that could emerge out of a 'long-distance relationship', could be transformed into eternity.

I love you now... I love you forever...


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