You learn to love from your family.
They teach you the basics, what's most crucial in those important relationships we all eventually experience: what it means to feel important, to feel needed, to need someone, etc. We may not always learn the right way (parents are fallible creatures, families flawed units), but no matter what, we learn something.
But they’re just the basics. No matter how much they love us, our families can never experience for us, as much as they may want to. And we can’t be expected to get love all right our first time out, no matter how loving our household was growing up. It takes practice, of course, loving someone, and so we often learn the hard way what a broken heart feels like (is there any easy way to learn that?). Cue the depressing indie music.
My dad always tells me "You can't call it heartbreak if you can't laugh about it." Perhaps this stems from what sounds like his string of truly laughable relationships before he met my mother (a pairing that I always have and always will marvel at). He sits at the dinner table, glass of Shiraz in hand, detailing the dating scene of the early '80s, one that is apparently ripe with women who don't bother to change out of their housecoats before escorting you to dinner, just to break things off after the requisite three dates. I'm never quite sure whether I'm laughing at or with him during these stories, but he seems eager to tell them so I listen to him reminisce every once and a while. And now, after surviving my own heartbreak and laundry list of fairly asinine dating experiences, I have learned that it really isn't truly love lost until you find how it can fuel your humor.
I've seen some pretty maudlin, highly high school romantic drama in my lifetime. And it would be all too easy to write about how hurt I was, how completely emotionally ruined I was for a time because, if we're being honest, writing in that kind of heightened, sensational language is part of our nature (or at least my 19-year-old girl nature). It flows like the tears once did, in notebook upon notebook, as I try to wring out something meaningful, something lasting from that relationship. But I won't subject you to those sap stories because all of those scribbles and torn pages have taught me at least one thing: none of that is interesting in the least.
But the things I came out of that relationship with (besides the jewelry, that is) are the building blocks for some highly entertaining stories. That doesn’t necessarily solve the narcissistic bent to it all, as making people laugh, no matter what the tale is, is a fairly self-indulgent experience.
And, perhaps just as importantly, it’s my not-so-subtle way of turning the tables on heartbreak. My way of rising above it: relegating it to “merely a life experience” as opposed to a “defining life experience.” Because no one actually wants to admit that a stupid boy problem changed the way you look at life, love and all that rot. No, that would be embarrassing. Much better we look back on it all — with a trusty pair of rose-colored glasses — and have a good, long laugh.