What is love? A topic I revisit more often than I would like, and interestingly (or logically?) most often when my mind is free of the binds of romantic interest. San Francisco has consumed my energy, my conscious, my unconscious, my time, my thought. But from time to time—on a bus, aboard over-filled tourist cruises around the Bay, between calm calculations of what, exactly, I would do were an earthquake to arrive at just this moment—I accidentally escape overwhelmingly alluring, charming off-putting-ness of an old city that will always, I think, be new to me for long enough to think beyond the following minutes, hours, days, beyond time, even.

The rapid-fire randomness of my thoughts has been oft-noted by those closest to me, the ones who spend enough time with me to realize that my mind doesn’t quite operate properly. Today a woman passing the window of the restaurant in which I sat with my now-departed Belgian friends. Something about her, her jeans perhaps, set off a series of thoughts which eventually drew me to love.

What is love? Our server in the restaurant last night was attractive and nice. I’m sure we’d get along well. We did get along well, in fact. But could I love him?

The thoughts which carried me from the passerby to love included many conversations I’ve had with friends about love, dating, sex—the things people our age talk about. But what are we really talking about?

Love defies explanation. Love is being eternally dedicated to someone(s?), love is putting others before yourself. Then what Is friendship? I love my friends. Of course. But I “love” my friends differently that I “love” romantically. Or so I’m told.

Can I love someone in secret? I’m inclined to think that most of the people with whom I’ve discussed love would argue that I cannot. Love is something that must be expressed—first and foremost to it’s recipient, but perhaps more importantly to others. Others—friends, family, strangers. A major complaint among LGBTQ couples is the overwhelming fear that prevents many from public displays of affection. But why publicly display affection?

I’ve maintained for some time that I can separate love and sex with some level of ease—I have. I’ve at times wondered whether this is because I don’t understand what love is. But perhaps it’s because I’ve understood love too well.

Love is a public display of affection. Sex is a private display of affection. Love is acknowledged, encouraged, enshrined in legal contracts. And social contracts.

Love is social. Of course social in the sense that it is between individuals, but also in that it demands interaction with others—friends, family, strangers. In my brief whirlwind of thoughts, I was struck by the fact that, while friends often confide in me about their queeriosities and experimentation, their “love” affairs are always publicly presentable and almost always respectable—and when they are not, they are deliberately contrary.

Social theorists often preach of the family as a microcosm of society, and they are undoubtedly correct in this assertion. Social influences permeate every aspect of our lives. These forces hatch generally develop out of nowhere before becoming norms (think of something you and everyone you know hate doing, but do anyway, because you “must”). Why must we love?

When I "fall in love," always with someone that I would like to display as my attachment. Other than bragging rights, love has got nothing to do with.

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