Eat, Pray, Love in Italy: Chapter Love.
Love actually is, all around.
Love is bittersweet.
There was a time, for a long time, that I was extremely bitter when it came to love. Anytime I would see a couple holding each other or kissing in public, I would jokingly say, “Get a room!” or would simply just silently “Booooo” at them. These were things that got a laugh, where I would engage my friends in participation. These were childish things. I found humor in making fun of the one thing I always wanted, but never got, a way for me to deal with that bitterness.
I hated seeing people happy like that. Selfishly, that wasn’t fair because I didn’t have it, when I wanted it. So, it was easier to simply “boo” at them and make it a joke. I know we’ve all been there. Watching people love on each other in extreme displays of PDA, or sometimes in a simple back rub at a concert. Something that probably feels totally normal to the other person, but to the outside looking in—a single display of affection at a time when you are bitter about love, can just be a reminder of the fact that you don’t have a public back rub masseur on call, to make that a normal thing. Which in turn, makes you even more bitter.
It’s a trigger, and bitterness feeds on it like it’s the only thing on the menu. Bitterness makes you focus on the things you don’t have in that moment. It makes you forget about all the other beautiful things in life that you do have in this moment. Bitterness takes the focus away from living in the present. It takes your moment and reminds you of your past, and it flash forwards you to the future. A future where you are still alone and how nothing in the past ever worked out, how the situation you are in right now is going to last forever. Bitterness does a lot of time traveling. Bitterness is dangerous, it’s unhealthy. It’s sometimes my best friend. It’s easy, familiar. It’s something that I try and reason with.
When I went to Italy, I was in a bitter state of mind about a lot of things, one of them being love. But being bitter also causes blindness. Blindness where you are unable to see things that are constantly being shown to you as a form of beauty or reassurance. But I was bitter for a long time, therefore I was blind and could not see those beautiful reminders of the thing I loved most. Then, something happened in Italy. Something spectacular, something completely unexpected.
I was in Venice. Eating Gelato. Go figure. It was peaceful, I was happy. I was eating in Italy, so I wasn’t multi-tasking or worrying. And maybe it was the combination of eating and some of the long lost praying I had been doing while I was there. God are you there? It’s me Mon. But, mid-gelato, I witnessed something beautiful.
The photo you see above, I captured in a very delicate moment. From my perspective, an Italian girl had just had a long day, something had happened. She was distraught, she was crying. She was telling her boyfriend the story but couldn’t seem to get the words out through all the tears. Then, all of a sudden her boyfriend just held her as she continued to cry into his chest. He allowed her to feel, and he comforted her. Something so simple, something that we so often forget to do. Yet, it was so amazing to witness. I saw love. I witnessed it in it’s purest, most raw form. And I finally understood what I was allowing myself to be blinded from. I was reminded in that moment that love existed. That love was real.
And in that moment, for the first time in a long time, bitterness stayed away because even it was floored. We came to a mutual understanding that this was a beautiful moment, it was real. Regardless of what had fed bitterness all those years, all the lies and the heartbreaks, the love we had erased and doubted, existed.
And after that moment, I noticed myself actively looking for love. I would capture love, instead of booing childishly at the couple in front of me. I wanted to see it again and again. I wanted to be reminded that it was real. Maybe the thought of it being something I could never attain or sustain, made viewing it out in the world a little bit more tangible. Because this time, bitterness couldn’t argue with it anymore. It started to believe in it again. So, I wanted to make sure I captured every moment I could, to remind bitterness to stay away. As she cried in his arms, I couldn’t help but capture the moment to remind myself of it. Because it unveiled my eyes so vividly.
Throughout my trip to Italy, I noticed a lot of wedding photo shoots, couples holding hands, couples randomly pausing in the middle of the street just to kiss each other in that moment. Bitterness would like to add here that it’s sure this was only because we were in Europe, but I refuse to give in to it’s side remarks anymore. Because every time I would notice a couple, I was reminded that love existed. This even happened when I returned home. So, suck it bitterness.
I like to believe that God took a moment to unveil my eyes in Italy. To remind me that the form of love that I crave so deeply is alive and well. And although it might not be my time for that, it still exists. And I can continue to fuel my belief in it as long as I want to. Because for a time, I used to say I believed in three different kinds of love. And after constantly feeding that belief, I grew tired of breaking my own heart by cheating myself from what I really wanted—unconditional comfort and confidence in myself, supported by someone else who I unconditionally comforted and encouraged as well.
And after all those years with bitterness, I now understood love when I witnessed it in the streets of Venice. That couple may have been young, but their love was so strong. And if there’s anything that I strongly believe in, it’s love. Love exists in many forms, but this is the one I resonate with the most. Sorry bitterness.
A time for love.
Italy may have awakened my belief in love and unveiled my bitterness towards it, but it also started a journey of self-love. I may have left my heart in Venice, but it was ready for the greatest love story of all time—my own. And in my story, I have dreams other than love. There are things I wanted to do with my life that bitterness wouldn’t let me do, that I am now embarking on before chapter love really does come to pass. Finally. But in the meantime, I can admire it from afar and know that it’s something that is real. And if the form of love I want isn’t written for me in this life, at least I know that it exists and that I am on an adventure to find things I love too.
Love taught me that it actually does exist. Bitterness can cloud the existence of the thing you want most. It can create a fog around what is alive and well in the world around you. But letting God unveil your eyes, surrendering to peace and just opening your heart, is something that I hope everyone experiences in their lifetime. However they need to experience it. Your unveiling might not be in love, but maybe something else.
But I learned that the thing I believe in most, that I want the most, still exists. And although I might not get it when I want it or in the way that I want it, others are getting to experience it in their own way every day. It is something that should be admired and pursued as a reminder that you’re alive in a beautiful world. And that you are on the right path to discovering where you’re meant to be. You might just have to do a few things for yourself first, before you get the thing you want most. Have faith that unveiling things is one step closer to the greatest gift of all.