fter a weekend of back to back weddings, I spent the last of my Sunday plopped in bed watching a rom-com nonetheless. ‘To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before’ is a nod to the teenage romantic comedies I grew up watching like ‘She’s All That’ or ‘Never Been Kissed’, inspired by my romance-filled weekend, I decided to end on a good note watching two teenagers fall in love, because there really is something so pure about young love.
In the movie, Lara Jean (Lana Condor) is infatuated with romance, when she has a crush on a boy and it’s too unbearable to keep to herself she writes him a letter, folds into an envelope addressed to them, (which is kinda creepy, to be honest, but nonetheless something a teenager would do, just for the added drama of it.) The letters get mailed unbeknownst to her by her younger sister and well, drama does ensue in the form of a fake relationship, a high school nemesis, bickering sisters, and a clueless single dad. Like in any rom-com, the fake relationship with Peter Kavinsky (Noah Centineo), blossoms into a real one.
fter watching the movie, I sat in silence, my eyes teary not from the cheesy, lovey-dovey ending, but because I was left with a nostalgia for the feeling of “being in love.” Luckily, my friend who is recently married called in to inquire about my weekend, we talked for hours as I let her in on my little secret,something I had been trying to keep under wraps for fear of it getting any bigger.
“I’m pretty sure I’m afraid to open up to someone like I did with (let’s call the most recent ex, Stranger) in my mind I’m ready, I’ve worked on myself, I’ve healed, but deep down there’s a fear, I have not acknowledged because I didn’t want to validate it. What if I’ve lost my ability to love as powerfully as I did before because I can’t let go of this unconscious feeling of fear?” To which she replied something I had honestly never considered and it blew my mind.
“You will never be able to love someone else like you did with Stranger,” she said without hesitation. “Every love is unique, you won’t ever be able to recreate the love you had for someone, each person is different and each person you will love a different way.” After we hung up I felt a little burden off my shoulders, like I had finally come clean to myself.
In the movie, the main character Lara Jane talks about the intensity of her feelings and how writing the letters reminds her of how powerful her emotions can be, “how all-consuming.” When the letters are mailed and the recipients confront her about her feelings, she explains that it’s love-d, as in past tense, and those feelings are not relevant in her life anymore. The recipients range from summer camp love, model UN crush, 7th-grade spin the bottle kisser, and her childhood best friend.
Love, like my friend mentioned, is different for every person, and in my case, I too have had several in my life, each one incomparable to the next. I decided to write small letters to each past love, unlike Lara Jean’s, mine had more of a ‘500 Days of Summer’ feel. I’ve also renamed them as I refrained from using their real names because privacy is so in right now!
“Dear Highschool Love,
First saw you at a party I went with my best friend, your cousin, we made a bet with that we would both kiss a boy by the end of the night, we would have to do it by midnight or one of us had to pay up. You were her suggestion, I remember her saying “My cousin is the biggest player, he’s an easy target… and he’s good looking too!” And you were, at the time, the most handsome guy I had seen, tall, blonde, a devilish smile and the warmest embrace, I won’t forget our first kiss.
I knew you were trouble, but I have never been known to be someone who backs down in the face of danger. I still don’t forget the taste of your lips. They always had a peculiar taste. The time you wanted to go all the way and I never let you, how you left in anger and left me in tears, and I remember how you kept saying that I was the one who you could never have and never did.
I did care about you, even though when you called me at at dawn one day, asking me to be your girlfriend, I told you we were better off as friends with benefits, it’s not that I didn’t love you, I was just scared that things would fall apart before they even began. Then when I tried to mend things, you had already moved on. I was heartbroken, but I don’t regret that time spent with you. I will always look back at our times and see the good of them: your sweet kisses on my forehead, your jokes about being the one who corrupted me, your warm embraces, and your big heart the one you always tried to shield.”
How we met in our dorm floor still remains a little mystery, I don’t remember the exact moment, all I know is that we became friends instantly. I also remember our long, deep and meaningful conversations that lasted from evening to early mornings, even during our breaks where we had a 9 hour difference, we would always make time for our Skype calls. I remember when you introduced me to your family, how much fun we would have at dinners with your mom, hanging out with your brother whenever they came to visit, I always felt like I belonged.
I remember when you would send songs to me as love letters, but I just couldn’t tell, or maybe I was too scared to admit what was going on. I remember you coming into my room one night asking if you could sleep over because you were having problems with your roommate, I remember you caressing my back until I fell asleep, but to me, it was all innocent, until that day you told me you loved me. And I panicked, I tried to play it cool, I was just afraid that we would ruin our friendship if we tried to shape it into something else. I’m sorry I hurt your feelings, and I’m sorry things had to end the way they did. I never thought you would go on to be with someone else, a person who would give you an ultimatum between me and her, and that you would ultimately choose her and completely erase me from your life. Despite the way things ended, I know you were at true friend in those moments we were together and I’m grateful for them.
Dear Most Eligible Bachelor,
Meeting you was like something out of a movie. Your whole presence lighted up the room and I will always thank the Universe for having my first job be at an office next to yours. I was enfatuated with you, you were the most dapper guy I had ever met. Your smile was like the sunrise, just seeing it in the mornings woke me up and made my entire day. I know you knew you I was lying whenever I came over to ask for sweeteners pretending we had run out of them.
I know you enjoyed our encounters around the parking lot, or whenever our offices combined to make an outing and I know you enjoyed my pity attempts to make you laugh, not to mention my homemade oatmeal cookies. I know you had a girlfriend at the time and it was wrong for me to parade myself around your office in hopes you’d change your mind. If only I would have known at that moment a couple of years later you would drunkenly confess you always liked me, but in that moment my heart already would belong to someone else.
The way we met seemed to be something out of a cheesy, teen movie, despite me being 25. I came to one of your shows without having ever heard of you, I came to please my friends who wanted me to get out more after a breakup. You said you saw me from the stage in my red dress and biker jacket, and you instantly fell for me. On your break you came over to talk to me, you asked me for my number, and asked me to please wait until your band was done with the set so we could grab a drink. I left as soon as you went back to playing.
You texted me the next day, we went for a drink, and it felt as if I had known you forever. It felt like I was rekindeling with and old friend, one of many lifetimes past! In my mind, you were my summer fling, someone to take my mind of the pain, and my heartbreak. I was honest about this from the start, you promised it was ok. When you left on tour, I thought that was the perfect segway to end our short lived affair. When you came back, you called to tell me you’ve written a song about me, you sent over the lyrics, they were deep and I felt guilty because I could not reciprocate the same passion for you.
You asked me to give you a chance, even though I had been upfront about not wanting to commit to anything, I said I wasn’t ready. You made my song the title of your band’s next album, you invited me to your release party, I didn’t attend. You came to visit me after I had moved countries, and still I did not meet up with you. I’m sorry I couldn’t give you the happy ending you wanted, and I was glad I was able to apologize to you years later for breaking your heart and I’m grateful for your forgiveness and understanding.
I was never afraid with you, I gave myself whole heartedly. I’m sure in previous lifetimes we were lovers of some sort. I won’t ever forget our first date, how much fun we had going from one place to another, how it felt like a mini adventure. In fact, all the time we spent together was an adventure to me, in even the unknown feeling of it. I got to know you, or so I thought, the good parts and the not so good, and I loved every inch of you.
I loved our sailing trips together with just us and the sea, how we talked about our dreams and our fears, and how you comforted me in those dark periods where I felt like I had no one else to reach out to. How much I wanted to be that supporting anchor for you, even when you did not want to be the same for me. I loved your sense of freedom, it fit perfectly with my need for space, you taught me how to free myself from other’s expectations in a way.
I loved how you called me “amor” and practiced your spanish with me any moment you could, how even when you met my family you put so much effort in speaking to them in my native tongue. Our homemade brunches, followed by a horror film of your choice, the walks by the park with your dogs, the late night pho cravings and going to live jazz shows. I even loved you when you weren’t the most kind, when you angered easily and would raise your voice, I loved you, because in my mind I refused to believe this was the real you.
I loved hosting your parents when you were out of town, they are to this day, some of the kindest people I ever met. I loved meeting your childhood friends, getting to know those parts of you that you kept under wraps. I loved our constant road trips, getting to explore new places with you and being able to show you my world in my home country. Loved your ambition and your endless optimism.
In the end, I realized the person I fell in love with did not really exist, not anymore. I remember the day you went away, how I said you were causing me so much pain, and your indifference to it, I remember finding myself shattered with no idea how to put myself back together.
Time really does heal, and know that I’m complete again, I can tell you with honesty you are the most real love I have ever felt until this day, and I will always look back at the good parts of it, because they were many, and my love was real for you and I can never take it back.