Sometimes love stories happen like this. Sometimes a girl glances up from a math test and sees a boy looking back at her, and she wonders how she’s never noticed his freckles before that moment. During lunch she waits outside until he walks by, and she says “How’d you do on the quiz,” the words she’s been rehearsing all morning, while inside she’s asking, what did you mean when you looked at me that way.

But that’s just one story. Sometimes she looks up from her test and sees the girl next to her looking back, and they both grin with the thrill of a kiss they shared while studying together last night. Or sometimes she looks up to see two boys glance at one another, a look so private she blushes to see it.

Those stories, they’re still just a little sliver of the possibilities. Sometimes the love that felt perfect at seventeen feels stifling at thirty two, and leaving it behind is part of learning to love yourself. Sometimes it doesn’t stifle, but it feels different than it did all those years ago, and you learn to accept the change.

Sometimes the love stays, but the loved one is lost. Sometimes there’s an accident, or an illness, because sometimes love can be strong, so strong, and still not be strong enough to stop time and fate from doing what they will.

Sometimes, and this is really more than sometimes, this is so common, and so overlooked, sometimes love isn’t romantic at all. Sometimes love begins when someone offers you a cup of coffee on a cold day, and you take it, even though you don’t drink coffee, because you know what the cup really holds is friendship. Sometimes that love is the one that sees you through all the others, the loves that break or change or don’t change, the ones that are gone before you’ve had a chance to live in them fully.

Sometimes love happens with a birth, and sometimes it happens a month later, when through the haze of fatigue you see your child’s smile and it moves you in a way nothing else has. Sometimes love is learning how to believe in your children when the experience of parenting them is nothing like you imagined it would be, when they are not the way you imagined your children would be.

Sometimes love happens at sixteen, but it also happens at twenty six and fifty six. Sometimes love feels different then what you dreamed, or what you remembered. Sometimes it looks nothing like what you thought it would, or like you’ve been told it should. It makes no difference. That love is still love.

There are so many love stories in this world. Can’t we try to do justice to them all?