Brittany Pickering – Love Stories

Behold Brittany’s tale of learning the definition of love at Tenx9’s February event “Love Stories”. 

“Defining the Undefinable”

To begin, I want to say that since I grew up here in Middle Tennessee, I did have to change a few names in my story to keep the people anonymous and keep my embarrassment at a minimum. J

There are many of us that define the word love by all the things that we see in the media. Some of us are even blessed enough to have had parents that loved each other greatly and see that as a definition of love. Unfortunately, the former was true for myself for most of my life, until I thought I had reached an age where I could truly define it based on experience. There are a few things I know to be 100% true in this world. The first one is that no one and nothing on this planet will ever love me more than my dog, and the other thing is that love is completely undefinable.

When I was in the second grade, I was convinced that I loved one of the boys in my class. His name was Ryan. I loved Ryan. He was so cool. When we were on the merry-go-round, he would always push us the fastest, and he was friends with everyone even though the other boys were starting to realize that girls were very different and started to separate themselves. Ryan also happened to be one of my best friends, so that was even better. The fact that I was aware enough to not tell him my feelings probably said a lot about my knowledge of the social hierarchy in elementary school, but internally, I was sure that one day, he would feel the same.  To proclaim my feelings  to my entire family, I wrote “I love Ryan” on my wall…..and got in a lot of trouble…. All in the name of love. We were soulmates….well at least until middle school.

In middle school, I was somewhat of an ugly duckling. I hated doing my hair and absolutely hated anything that fit too closely to my body. Not only was I in the marching band (super cool) , but I also played softball. So I guess that set the standard for my love life in middle school….I didn’t have one.

In high school, things changed…well somewhat. The summer after my freshman year, I got my very first boyfriend. His name was Jared. He was so nice and sweet and I loved talking to him and we went go-cart racing and to the movies and it was an amazing month. I thought, “ Oh, this is what love is! He likes me a lot, and he thinks I’m pretty and I think he is cute and super cool…. We will be together forever!”…well forever lasted until he kissed me when I didn’t want him to and I ended it with a “let’s just be friends”. (I’m quite the heartbreaker)

The summer after my sophomore year brought another heartbreak. We were moving. We moved away from the sleepy little town I grew up in, the people I had gone to school with since Kindergarten, and moving to some place in the foothills of the Appalachians better known as Menifee County, Kentucky. My mom, who was getting back together with her childhood sweetheart was uprooting us and taking us to where him and his family lived.

Now, even though I was devastated about the move, I didn’t realize what an opportunity this was! I could reinvent myself! I cut all my hair off, learned how to wear makeup and invested in some clothes that showed that I wasn’t a boy. The first day of school, I realized what being the new girl in a small school was like. I was the talk of the school and I loved it. I stayed single (ya know, playing the field, which really means pretending to play the field) until February of that school year when I met Jason. Oh, Jason, with his blond hair and blue eyes and mediocre basketball skills… I was smitten.

Jason and I had quite the romance. I thought everything he did was wonderful. He was a year behind me so other than the one class we met in, we didn’t have any classes together, but we spent all the free time we could together. He could draw and write poetry and he was sweet and could express his emotions. Something that I thought was an excellent quality to have at the time.

My senior year of high school and Jason’s junior year, I was still head over heels. We were one of the “it” couples of the school and I was so proud. When I went on my senior trip and left Jason behind, I secretly loved the fact that he wrote me sappy love letters for every day I was gone. When I got back, he was waiting for the bus at 3 in the morning with roses and the letters. Now this, this was true love. This was the love that I had only read about. I thought that we were going to be together forever. I mean, why wouldn’t we? We were crazy about each other and in my mind, that was all that mattered. I mean, sure, there were other girls in our school that were giving their boyfriends a little more than I was willing to give mine and they seemed happy too…but we had real love, so that stuff didn’t matter. We could wait….he could wait…I could wait.

My freshman year of college, Jason and I were still together, but something was different. He was in high school and I was in college and it felt different. I didn’t do a lot of social things at all on campus that year because I didn’t want Jason to feel left out or that I was abandoning him. (He was sensitive you know). When Jason went on his senior trip, I wasn’t quite as devastated when he left because I trusted him, and we were in love…and nothing was going to happen. Until it did. Jason discovered  someone else and I discovered that maybe, true love didn’t mean sacrificing everything for the other person…including your social life.

A few years later, after I had my fair share of dating, partying, and enjoying my college experience, I met Ethan through a mutual friend at church.  Ethan was the best looking guy I knew and everything about him was perfect to me. In my mind, I had a checklist, and he met all the requirements. This, to me, was really love. I had found the perfect person for me.  I just knew we were going to be together forever. Truth is, we weren’t. 3 and a half years later, we broke up and what I thought was the perfect relationship was nothing but a reason to leave Kentucky…so I did.

In the time since I have moved, I have accomplished many things personally and one of those was an understanding. Many people put love into a box and sell themselves short when it comes to their experiences. I do have friends that say they don’t know what love is because they have never been “in love”, and I myself will occasionally say “I didn’t know what love was then, I was in high school,” or something along those lines.

The truth is I have only been in love a few times, but I have loved more than I can count. We confine love to that of a relationship between you and a significant other and you sell yourself short when it comes to feeling it. As corny as it is, I love “love”. I love that when I look at my grandparents, they love each other after 50 years just as much as they ever did. I love that my mom loved my sisters and I enough to be brave enough to move hours away from everything we had known for many years. I love that I love my dog like a child, and that’s okay! All those relationships and heartbreaks taught me that it wasn’t that I didn’t know what love was because I hadn’t reached a certain age, or time in my life to know the meaning of what love was, they taught me that love evolves and it is different for each and every single person. It is the accumulation of all of our experiences with everyone from our parents, friends, and significant others. Don’t limit yourself by defining something that is undefinable.