Some people think falling in love can only happen once, with the person they spend the rest of their life with. Some people think that they’ll fall in love, become heartbroken, and repeat both until they aren’t heartbroken anymore. Some people think falling in love is a myth.

You can fall in love as many times as you want. Because each time you fall in love, it’s different.

I fell in love with the boy who gave me a single rose. Not a dozen like most girls would expect. Not along with a box of chocolate. A single rose. The rose had a deep red color, with black fraying the ends of the petals, as it grew old. The green stem was slightly bent from being carried around all day until he saw me. He saw me walking and quickly fell into step with me, saying an awkward ‘hello’, as we both hadn’t expressed our feelings to each other yet. And then he pulled the rose out. That single rose with the withering black ends and the bent stem. From there, he became the boy I fell in love with who kissed me on the forehead even though I was soaked from the rain. The boy who lay by my side on the grassy hill, just looking at the sky. The boy who would take my hand gently whenever he was close to me. The boy who was unafraid of hugging me and kissing my cheek in front of my family. The boy who stroked my hair in the quiet moments. The first boy.

I fell in love with the boy who took me to dinner with the green eyes. Even at such a young age, sharing chicken tenders and laughing about politics we didn’t understand made my heart leap. I fell in love with the boy who tried his best to impress me every day from the color of his tie, to the surprises he would leave me. The boy who jumped on his bed until a bed leg broke because he was so excited to hear my voice on the other end of the phone. Even though it was such a short time, I fell in love with him as well.

I fell in love with the boy who tickled my knee during class and would talk to me every time my friend and I fought. The one who decided to go to the dance just to see me. The boy who would watch scary movies with me and cover my eyes every time he knew something scary would pop up on the screen. The boy who texted me a picture of food every time he remembered. The boy who forgot about me a week later.

I fell in love with the boy whose heart was broken. It wasn’t even my place, but I would tell him that he would find a better girl after the girl he liked rejected him. I always hoped the girl he found would be me. The boy who was misunderstood just because he was a hopeless romantic and wouldn’t give up on her. The boy who would joke and flirt with her, as I watched by them. The boy who would tell me what he liked about her, as I just listened and nodded. The boy I gave advice to, so that he could try to be with her. The boy I just wanted to be happy, even though it made me sad inside. The boy who didn’t see me.

I fell in love with the quiet boy who sat at the other side of the class. He never spoke, unless he was called on, and when he spoke, all the other sounds in the class disappeared. The tapping of a pencil on a wooden desk from an impatient student waiting for class to end. The sigh of the girl sitting next to me as she tried not to fall asleep. The zipping of a backpack opening. The crinkle of a bag of chips being opened. The giggle of two gossiping girls in the back of the room. His voice was a wonderful low tone. Quiet, but so smooth. The boy who said ‘hi’ to me every time we were walking into class, even though we had hardly spoken before. The boy who signed my yearbook as I passed it around the classroom. The boy I should have spoken to more.

I fell in love with the boy who I never imagined I would meet. The type of boy who would usually annoy me to the point of telling him to ‘shut up’ in front of the whole class. The boy who surprised me by sitting with me in the library even though he had a whole table of his popular friends waiting for him. The boy who would leave me snacks in my backpack without me knowing, because he knew I never ate breakfast. The boy who gave me gloves because my hands were always cold. The boy who left me small notes where I would least expect them. The boy who leaned against the wall waiting for me when class was over. The boy who suddenly held my hand in front of all his friends, shocking them all. The boy who cried quietly to me when he needed someone to talk to. The boy who would scare me at the end of the day by suddenly hugging me from behind. The boy who was unashamed of showing me off to his friends. The boy who kissed me and made my palms sweat. The boy who would randomly ask me strange questions. The boy who wondered why I even fell for him. The boy who stopped grabbing my hand. The boy who became slower to respond to my messages. The boy who confessed to me late one night. The boy who cheated on me. The boy who told me goodbye at the end. The boy who made me drive home in tears and cry all night. The boy who broke my heart for the first time.

I fell in love with the boy who was mature and understanding. Someone I had a crush on just because he was well known. I was just like a typical fan. But he paid certain attention to me, and would always make me smile, even though my heart was just broken. The boy who would ask me every day if I had a good day. The boy who would message me every time I wrote something sad online. The boy whose voice made me laugh, and smile to the point of tears. The boy who understood my teenage heart. The boy who always complimented me on everything. The boy I would never have been with anyway.

I fell in love with the boy who asked me to cheer him on. Who messaged me randomly one day and gave me his phone number. I hadn’t hung out with a boy one on one since the one who broke my heart. The boy who could tell when I was nervous. And the boy who told me he liked my dimples. The boy who would text me when he was about to sleep. The boy who told me secrets. The boy who sang to me even though he was a terrible singer. The boy who suddenly kissed me on the cheek one day when I was feeling down. The boy who suddenly transformed into someone I didn’t know. The boy who put me down and told me I disappointed him. The boy who showed me his true colors. The second boy to make me cry. The boy who changed.

I fell in love with the boys who made me laugh. The boys who I could always just enjoy myself with. The boys who made me realize what being truly happy was. The boys who could make me laugh until my cheeks were sore. The boys I could do anything with. The boys I told everything to. The boys I knew would be my best friends for the rest of my life.

I fell in love with the boy who smiled at me whenever he saw me. The boy who would shyly say ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’ as I came and went. The boy who showed himself as fearless. The boy who was romantic. The boy who knew exactly how to make a girl blush just with words. The boy I realized needed someone better than me.

You can fall in love as many times as your heart lets you. You may still have more falls to come. One day, I hope I’ll fall, and that boy will catch me and won’t let me go and fall again.

What’s it like?

Being in love

Is your heart supposed to beat faster?

Do your hands suddenly sweat?

Does your face get hot?

Is your stomach supposed to flutter?

I wouldn’t know

Because the last time I felt that way

It didn’t end in love

But in brokenness

Sneezing as soon

As you step outside

Pollen floating

In the open air

Rubbing your eyes

To chase the itch

Clearing your sore

Itchy throat

Springtime brings

All of these things

Constantly staying

Until the flowers fall

Hearts keep beating

When attraction hits

Leaving a throb

In your chest

Spring is like 

A new found crush

Finally blooming

Constant and going

Until the flowers fall

And the heart breaks

is this how it feels

when you stay awake thinking

thinking about this one person

and you imagine things that would never happen

but thinking about this one person

makes you happy

is this how it feels

when you’re in love?

When he always makes excuses

When he looks away

When he shoves his hands in his pockets

When he distances himself

When he says he’s too busy

When he doesn’t recognize you 

When he forgets you

When he isn’t the same

Let him go.

When he holds you tight

When he holds your hand to his chest

When he looks deep in your eyes

When you’re his first thought

When his hugs linger

When he does his best

When he drops everything

When he is your best friend

Don’t let him go.

            “How would you want to meet the one you spend the rest of your life with?”

            “The rest of my life?”

            “The rest of your life.”

            Her chin was resting on her palms, her elbows planted on the white tablecloth of the table. Her chestnut brown hair was pulled back in a loose bun, and the tips of her ears and the apples of her cheeks were still flushed pink from the cold outside.

            “The rest of my life,” she said. And then she smiled to herself.

            “So?”

            “I don’t know.”

            “You don’t know?”

            She shook her head.

            “Not even like, a cheesy wish or a supposed fairytale?”

            “I don’t know.”

            “Why?”

            She exhaled and sat back in her seat, shaking out her wrists. “Every time I’ve made a wish to meet someone great in the most romantic way, my expectations have always been shattered.”

            “Shattered?”

            “Something really nice will happen. I’ll get flowers just like I love, or I’ll get a cheesy CD, but the thing, or relationship, always gets messed up at the end.”

            “What else?”

            “They always get my favorite flower wrong.”

            “What, they forget that you love daisies?”

            “They always think it’s the typical red rose. Don’t get me wrong, roses are still great, but if the guy just remembered that the daisy was my favorite flower, he would be even greater in my eyes.”

            “What if he really loves you though? You’d still look at him as not as great if he didn’t remember daisies?”

            “Maybe!” she said, smiling really big.

            I leaned forward on the table this time, resting my jaw on my own hand. She had a cup of Darjeeling tea in front of her, which was also one of her favorites. I had a cup of coffee. The voices around us were happy; excited. Each table in the room had lacy white tablecloths as covers.

            “Tell me about this failure of a guy.”

            She rolled her eyes. “Why?”

            “Maybe I’ll learn from his mistakes and make you happy.”

            She laughed out loud this time. “Sure.”

            “No really, please tell me.”

            “Hmm, well he was a real jerk when I first met him. When we first met, I decided that I completely hated him, because he was truly annoying. It was senior year of high school, and he definitely had not matured at all since middle school. It was the first day of school, and I walked in feeling completely confident and great about my outfit. I was wearing my most favorite knee-length skirt, and it was flowy, and my favorite color, purple, and I had my favorite flats on too. As I was walking past this group of jocks to the art room, this guy stuck his foot out and tripped me. I fell right over, and my skirt flew up. He called me “blue polka-dot” for the rest of senior year.”

            I laughed and reached for my cup of coffee.

            “I was completely convinced that I hated him after that first day. Then, the art program had our first art show in the school in November. All my pieces were of daisies, and I sat at my display throughout the whole day. He came by with a bunch of his friends and yelled that hideous nickname at the top of his lungs and tried to pat my shoulder.”

            “Pat your shoulder, huh?”

            “Yeah, I though he was the most terrible, disgusting guy in the world.”

            I winced.

            She nodded to herself. “And then he stood back, crossed his arms, and looked at my display. He was trying to look like a serious art inspector or something, but you could tell he was about to burst out laughing. And then, he goes, ‘well, Polka-dot, I think your work is great, but it looks like you need some assistance from the master. Your skills are very amateur.’ And that’s when I blew up. I shoved him into his group of friends and stormed off to the art room.”

            I laughed a bit more. “So then what happened with this guy?”

            “I couldn’t even stand to look at him anymore!”

            My head was down on the table, and my shoulders were shaking because I was laughing so much.

            “And then, he even went on to ask me to prom later on! He handed me a bunch of red roses and said, ‘hey Polka-dot, go to prom with me.’ Of course I slapped the roses out of his hands and yelled no. And I stormed off again. For some reason, he got my phone number and called me with the same question, saying he had ‘imaginary roses through the phone’, and I rejected him again and hung up. But he kept calling and calling, and eventually found his way to my house! He wouldn’t leave me alone! So at school the week of prom, just to get him off my back, I bought my own bouquet of roses and gave them to him in the hallway.”

            Then, she laughed to herself again. “Well, I wouldn’t say I exactly gave them to him. More like I threw them at him, screamed ‘FINE’, and then stomped away.”

            “So you did go to prom with him?” I asked as I tried stifling my laughs.

            She nodded. “Unfortunately, yes. But in the end, he turned out to be not such a bad guy after all. It seemed like he still hadn’t matured from the elementary school tricks of being mean to the kid you had a crush on.”

            “So?”

            “He still got everything wrong about me when we dated after that though.”

            I pulled a single daisy from the vase in the center of our table.

            “Well,” I said, “I’ll make sure to never make that mistake again, my Blue Polka-dot.” And I reached over and tucked the daisy stem behind her ear.

            She laughed and slapped my hand softly. “You better not.”

            “So you never answered my first question though.”

            She looked around the room and then said, “I want the person who I spend the rest of my life with to surprise me and make me fall in love with him without even realizing it. And you, Will, you were my favorite one to fall in love with.”

            The room was filled with people laughing and smiling, looking towards us and nodding their heads towards us. Each table had a white tablecloth covering it, and a vase of daisies in the center. Above the room, white balloons floated and banner hung. It said:

            “Celebrating the engagement of Hallice and William

And Hallice looked beautiful, with the daisy behind her ear, as we held hands and stood for our loved ones in the room.

I stare at him. My chin resting on my fists; my elbows are digging into the wood of my desk. The only thought going through my head is “what if”. What if he noticed me? What if he secretly looked at me too? I let out a silent breath. My eyes flicker down to my half-done worksheet in class and then back to him. And suddenly, when I least expect it, he turns around. Our eyes meet. I quickly drop my hands, grab my pencil, and pretend to work. I can feel my cheeks turning red. He quickly turned his gaze to the clock above me. And turned back to the front. Our eyes met. 

I think the feeling

Of falling in love is like

A marshmallow.

Fluffy

Soft

Sweet

And light as a cloud.

And love can be with anything

Like caramel

Strawberry sauce

Hot fudge

Rainbow sprinkles

As sweet as can be.

I think the feeling

of falling in love

is unexpected

And spontaneous

Like sticking your tongue

In the jar of sugar as a little child

And taking it out

Coated with

White and crystallized

Sweet sweet sugar.

I think I’ve developed

A sweet tooth for  you.

What does it mean

When you feel electricity

Sparking at the ends of your fingertips

And suddenly everything around you glows

Like the glimpse of a light bug

In the surrounding dark of night?

And what does it mean

When you feel like your feet are floating

Above the ground

As if you’re soaring freely through the sky

But still staying stationary

In the same spot you encountered?

How is it possible

That I may actually

Feel like I am melting

Into a single puddle

Of water on a warm clear day

After a long night of rain?

I don’t understand

What you mean

When you say that all I am feeling

Is merely an emotion

And  that I’m not really turning into a superhero

And that it’s just falling in love.

 The swoon. It’s that rushing feeling you get when you meet a person you can imagine yourself with. It’s the heart-pumping, blush inducing effect put upon you whenever you think about the person; whenever you’re around that person. Some call it falling in love.

            It was time be different for once. It was a new summer, and she could change anything about herself. She could be a new kind of Marlene.

Every summer, she stayed at her beach house with her family. The beach house; where Marlene could get away from everything. The only thing she didn’t enjoy leaving was her best friend, Matt.

One day, her mom had a sudden craving for a caramel-covered apple, so Marlene was given the task to go get it on the boardwalk. Marlene had outgrown the boardwalk. It was fun as a child, but at the age of 17, she felt that tanning on the beach and playing volleyball was much more enjoyable; or mature. So for the first time in two years, Marlene went to the boardwalk. She passed a new bike rental place on her way to the candied apple stand. On the way back, in front of the shop was a boy about her age doing tricks on one of the bikes. She walked slower, watching as he looked down at the front wheel doing trick after trick. The way the bike spun around, or went into the air for a split second was almost hypnotizing. Suddenly, he stopped and looked over at Marlene. Snapping back to reality, Marlene realized that she had stopped walking and was staring at him. He shot her a shy smile, making her turn red, and she turned and hurried back to the beach house. That was the first sign of the swoon.

            The next day, Marlene went to the boardwalk again. She told her mother that she wanted some cotton candy. Secretly, she wanted to see him again; whoever he was. As she approached the shops, she spotted him. In front of the rental place, sitting on a bench pumping air into a bicycle wheel. It was a new summer, and she could change anything about herself. Gathering up all her energy, she walked straight up to him.

            “Hi,” she said.

            He looked at her and smiled again. “Hey, you came by here yesterday, didn’t you?”

            “Yeah,” she replied, not mentioning anything about blushing and running away. Instead, she held out her hand. “I’m Marlene.”

            He took her hand. “Chris.”

            With summer vacation at only two months and a half until school started up again, Marlene decided to make the most of it. Especially with Chris. They talked a lot at the bench that day. They had been in the same grade. Both were heading off to college after summer ended. They spoke about their friends back at home. They discussed the boardwalk food. They talked about the sand, the beach, the bikes; everything. As the day grew later, and both were about to head off, a simple question changed everything. That one question changed the whole summer.

            “Hey, Marlene, do you want to hang out tonight?”

            A summer fling. Something Marlene had always dreamed of. The final bullet on her bucket list for her high school career. And she finally checked it off, all thanks to Chris. They spent every day of the summer together. Even Marlene’s mom met Chris and found out why she hadn’t been lying on the beach moping all day, or lounging around in the house constantly sipping on lemonade and flipping through magazines. They seemed to be attached at hip, completely taken with each other.

They didn’t miss a day of seeing each other. During the day, they would rent bikes together and ride them up and down the long, five-mile boardwalk. They’d stop for ice cream cones, lemonades, candied apples, popcorn, or just to sit on a bench and talk the day away. During the night, they would associate themselves with the night-life. They would visit local beach clubs, dancing the night away together. They would run like giddy eight-year olds to the carnival rides, feeling the speedy rush of roller coasters, the bobbing if a merry-go-round, the swoosh and windy feeling of the swing ride, and the romantic slow-rocking motion of the Ferris wheel. Marlene and Chris would pick up sweets from the shops; popcorn, apples, sodas, and gummies, grab blankets and flashlights, and spend nights on the beach just falling asleep under the stars. To them, summer would go on forever.

They knew summer would have to end eventually. They knew their summer romance would have to be interrupted by the sudden ring of college and the road trips back home. But they never considered it. Marlene and Chris were too caught up in their rush of summer love and the beach. The thought never crossed their minds as they walked on the beach shore together, hands intertwined, as they rode carnival rides, as they danced, ate, laughed, biked, or anything. And then the last week of summer came; too fast for them to even prepare for. They didn’t realize its approach. Their track of time was lost with all the past days of summer.

Early one morning, Marlene woke up to a phone call from Chris. He called her to come to the beach. Hurriedly, she dressed and washed up. She expected a romantic breakfast together watching the waves, and then a peaceful walk on the shore holding hands. He stood on the beach alone, in a blue t-shirt matching the color of the water and board shorts.

“Morning,” she said happily.

“Hey,” he said with the same shy smile as when they first met.

“So, what’s up?” Marlene asked eagerly.

He twirled her hair through his fingers. Something she loved that he did. “I just wanted to talk.”

“About what?”

He then looked straight into her eyes. She leaned in towards him closing her eyes slowly. A second later, when she didn’t feel a response, she opened her eyes. He was looking out at the horizon.

“Chris?”

“The summer’s pretty much done, Marlene. What’s going to happen?”

“Well, we’ll stay together. We can meet during the year, right?”

He shook his head. “It’s been great, Marlene, you’re amazing. But we can’t do it. I can’t do it. I really think it needs to end here.”

The rush caught up with her then. The rush of reality.

“What? Chris…” she started.

“I’m sorry.” He wouldn’t look at her.

Her tears started falling. He kicked sand into the water. They stood on the shore in silence together. There was only one word going through her head repeatedly. Why.

Three small words carried the weight of everything they had that summer. All of the words only consisted of eight letters. She sucked in a breath, ready to shoot the words out at him. How could he decide this on his own? Did he not want to make any of it work? What happened to what they had the whole summer? Did he care that he was breaking her heart? She exhaled once more. It was the fourth time she had tried to say it. He was standing in front of her saying the words ‘I’m sorry’ over and over. Seven letters. The words meant nothing to her. Suddenly, nothing he said to her all summer meant anything. They were nothing to the hurricane of emotions drowning her. He was looking down at his feet, hands held together in a clasp as if praying.

“I’m sorry.”

Tears ran down her face like an overflowing river. They wouldn’t stop, no matter how much she willed them to. Her breathing was ragged from trying to catch her breath. She could feel the hot flush in her cheeks. She felt the soreness in her wrists and fingers from clenching her hands so hard. All the muscles in her body were locked up. In anger; In sadness; In heartbreak. She wouldn’t stand in front of him any longer.

“I hate you.”

And then she ran. She ran from the whole summer they spent together, the memories they created, and him especially.

*************************************************

The school year had started. She was attending the local university in her town to study Physics. With her, was her best friend Matt. They’d been friends since the beginning of ninth grade. She arrived at the dorms and took a breath. This was her life for the next four years.

A couple days later, Matt found her for the first time since the beginning of summer before she left for the beach.

“Marlene!” he yelled from across the green.

She looked in the direction of the familiar voice.

“Matt! Finally!” She exclaimed.

The two reunited with a friendly hug and Matt went on to talk about the two camps he went to over the summer. Matt was big on engineering and basketball. He went on and on about how much he learned, how it got him more and more excited for college, and how much fun he had. All through it, Marlene thought about her summer. She wondered if she wanted to tell Matt about her summer with Chris. She didn’t know if she wanted to mention anything about it, based on how tragically it ended up. But his concluding question came as it had always. “So, how was your summer?”

“Oh, it was average, same old,” was all Marlene could say.

They carried on through the semester. Going to college games, helping each other with projects and papers, visiting home together, carrying on with their friendship. But something seemed off to Marlene. It wasn’t the same friendship. Maybe there’s something more? She thought. But she shook that thought out of her head. There was no way her and Matt could hit off that way. They were friends.

One night, Matt and Marlene were doing a project in her dorm room, and Marlene left to go buy snacks. And then her cell phone rang. It was Marlene’s mom, and Matt usually answered to Marlene’s mother whenever she wasn’t around, since they were good friends, so he picked up the phone.

“Hi! It’s Matt. Marlene is at the store grabbing snacks.” He answered cheerfully.

“Oh, hello Matt. Well, just tell Marlene to call back. I hope you both are doing well.”

Matt made a puzzled expression on his side of the line. “Is everything alright?”

Marlene’s mother sighed. “I hope it will be. Tell her Chris called our home.”

“Will do, talk to you later.”

Chris? Matt sat thinking about who this person could be. A new friend? Short for Christina? A cousin? He waited and questioned himself until Marlene came back.

“I brought juice and cookies and popsicles!” She exclaimed.

“Who’s Chris?”

Marlene froze. “How do you know about Chris?”

“Your mom just called. I answered like usual. But she seemed worried I guess. She said she called by the house.”

Marlene thought for a couple minutes, and they sat in silence.

She then took a breath and started, “Chris is a guy… and he was someone I was with over the summer. We dated I guess. Things broke off pretty rough by the end. Separation is hard for him I guess. I’m alright though.”

“From the way you froze up, you definitely don’t seem like you’re alright.” Matt said, seemingly concerned. Inside, he was jealous.

“I don’t know, it’s just… It’s done. There’s no going back.” Marlene tried her best to hold everything back. All the tears that she thought she cried out back at the beach that day were swelling back up.

“You’re hiding it.”

“Matt, just leave it all alone.”

Matt stood up. “I’m not leaving anything alone. We may have been friends for the last four years, but it doesn’t mean I haven’t had feelings for you also. And I’m not going to be shallow and leave you just because of separation also. I won’t leave you alone because I really like you Marlene.”

Marlene looked up shocked, just as her tears started falling. Matt? Liking her? Before she could confirm it, he stormed out of the room.

Then, it hit her. That was the feeling she felt earlier. She knew there was something. There had always been something. She realized that Chris was really nothing. And Matt was that something she felt.

She ran out of her room to catch up with him. Right as she got out of the building, she saw him walking down the lawn, hands stuffed into his pockets.

“Matt!” She yelled, “Matt, wait!”

He turned around, only to be thrown to the ground. She had run straight into him.

“Oh, sorry,” she gasped. She was breathing hard.

“What?” He snapped.

            Marlene looked straight at him. “Matt! This whole semester, I’ve been feeling something weird. Like, a new feeling between the two of us! But I didn’t believe it. But just now, I realized I hadn’t thought about Chris at all. And it’s because the feeling I’ve been feeling is us! Matt, I think I like you too!”

            Matt looked shockingly at her for a few moments, and then started laughing. He threw his head back at the sky and laughed. They had just confessed to each other like immature middle schoolers. She looked at him puzzled, and then he pulled her into his arms. “Me too,” was all he could say.

The swoon. It’s that rushing feeling you get when you meet a person you can imagine yourself with. It’s the heart-pumping, blush inducing effect put upon you whenever you think about the person; whenever you’re around that person. Some call it falling in love. And falling in love can fix anything, without you even realizing it.