One very cool thing about my Love Project is that I think about love. A lot. Obsessively, actually. I watch people interact and I calculate their love factor. (A j-theory I’m just beginning to work out. Stay tuned.) I analyze the love in song lyrics, ponder the symbols of love in our culture, marvel at our capacity to reach out and respond to those who’ve reached out to us. I think about all the different kinds of love – romantic, familial, platonic, distant, quiet, noisy, sweet, passionate, fierce, fearless. I’m like a photographer trying to capture love from every angle, in every light.

Cool, right? What better subject could there be to have my jumpy, manic, troubled mind get stuck on.

Over the weekend, I wrote this: I think real love has to do with being  unself-conscious in the presence of another person.

I am rarely unself-conscious. I tend to be very aware of the pieces of me. I think about the pieces of me when I should be focused on the person I’m with. For instance, I’ll think “my lips are so dry,” and then, just like that, some part of me is debating whether or not I’m comfortable with this person watching me put on my tinted lip balm.

Or I’ll think “I’m saying ‘um’ too often,” and then, for a little while, I’ll try not to say it. I’ll let the conversational silences sit, um-less, while I search for the word I want, and I’ll try not to focus on those silences as that only makes finding the right word all the harder. Or, I’ll suddenly become aware of my hair (never in a good way) or my legs, or my hands, or how the clothes I’m wearing seem all at once to be totally wrong for the occasion, the weather, my body.

These are goofy examples, I know, but my point is this: there aren’t that many people with whom I can be totally unself-conscious. Especially in moments of vulnerability, when the stakes are a little higher than my chapped lips. It can only happen when I let my guard down, when I allow myself to be present, engrossed, intrigued, energized… completely with someone.

For me, it’s a bit of magic when that happens. It’s a high. And I’m guessing we all have our version of it. That thing that when it happens makes us believe that this person, this relationship, this moment of connection is special. This is about love.

It could be anything really. The feeling of being absolutely understood or accepted or appreciated or believed. I’m curious what your thing is. That thing, that bit of magic that happens sometimes when you’re with someone and it makes you feel, at least for that moment, truly loved.

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