Step away from the red pen and no one gets hurt.

I am weary of red pens because I know exactly what they mean.

A red pen, in the editor’s world, symbolizes cross outs, suggestions, side margin scripture and ultimately: change. It is a brave act, to compose a piece that you might like to call your “best work” and allow it to meet the wrath of a red pen, ready to annihilate and abuse with punctuation and grammar. But that is totally fine with me, place a comma where it needs to be. Go ahead and add the missing semi colon. But don’t touch my story line. DO NOT TOUCH MY STORY LINE.

Perhaps someone needs a little lesson in growing up: People are going to come into our lives and they are going to touch our story lines. We will come face to face with many “red pens” throughout our lives but it is up to us to allow ourselves to be changed by them.

I am one to get googly-eyed over fate. I will watch Serendipity a good 300 times and never get tired of the idea of someone meeting me in a little restaurant in New York City. I am fan of little coffee shops that hold the potential of love at first sight and airport terminals where two lovers could possibly reunite. But even with an embarrassing love for chick flicks, I still believe that we make a choice at the end of the day.

We are always choosing. Choosing to love, leave, try and let go. We choose who we will hand over the manuscript of our heart to. Who We Will Trust To Be Careful With Their Red Cursive. Who we believe is worthy to allow our hearts to be written on and potentially changed completely by the writing of another’s words.

There are those who come around and they mark up our hearts by just being there, but even if we say we have no control over what they do to us, we do. We can take the pen away, sometimes thankfully and other times with grief, with sorrow that we have to force them to place down their final point of punctuation and walk away without our heart.

It is crazy to me but I think it happens every day. I think about all the people I see in passing one day and I sometimes wonder about what parts of their hearts have gone missing or belong to someone else, or have veiled by the markings of another. It is crazy to me to think we could potentially walk around like this forever.

But that is the point of a red pen: to make changes. When another picks up the pen and scatters their comments all over us, we have to be the ones to step forward for a second draft. Our lives may be edited over and over again, every single day, and I will honest in saying that I like the idea of never being the same from one interaction to the next.

But I will always, always, always question whether or not if I meet someone in this life will I ever have to question if I should have let them hold the pen longer.

Because here is the trickiest and the scariest thing to admit: that we could meet someone and be o.k. with them touching our story line, for better or worse. We could grant them that permission to add new ideas and change the beginnings and the transitions. We could grant them permission to change the our most precious possession: their ending. They might change that period into a comma. They might cross out take that lower case letter and turn it upper. They might, they might, they might.

But like I said, I am weary of red pens because I know exactly what they mean.

Love is a permanent marker.

Love is a dictionary full of definitions.

Love is different with each encounter.

I am a fan of “Love Is,” the black and white comic strip comic strip collection by Kim Grove. It arrives in my paper every morning and I cannot help but be intrigued by what love will be defined as next. But for some reason, love always seems to take on the verb form. Love is kissing, wanting, giving, holding, wishing, encouraging. Helping, sharing, inspiring, desiring, understanding.

But what if love were a noun, not even a person or a place, but rather a thing. A tangible object. What would love be?

Love is a permanent marker.

I remember the years of childhood when coloring was all the rage. After a while crayons no longer sufficed, washable markers seemed so childish, but permanent markers, they were the real deal.

Every child wants to use the Sharpies, maybe it is because they smell different, they bleed through the paper or they come with a warning from parents, “Don’t get these all over you because it will never come off. Be very careful.”

Well I remember this same warning from my parents when it came to matters of love. “Be very careful. Now hearts are involved.”

We developed crushes growing up,  Marc who sat behind us in the second grade, Dayna who shared her art supplies with us. But just like crayons, we left these grade school love affairs behind.

Moving on to those washable years. We met boys and girls who we swore had our hearts in their hands. Those were the years of being invincible but unbelievably insecure, the years of wanting to be noticed and falling face first into what we thought was love. Hearts seemed to fall apart but came right back together when a new love came along. Diaries filled themselves with tales of girls who cared too much and boys who never cared at all. We were young. At times, miserable. Teenagers.

But then that permanent marker comes along. That first encounter with a person who makes our mind race, a person who we find ourselves tripping all over: a tangle of legs, arms, freckles and feelings. The first “I love you.” The secrets meant for only two. The late night banter. The cracked code to our hearts. But the warning resounding in our head “Be careful. Once it is there it will never go away.” Permanent.

Love is a permanent maker. We spend years bracing ourselves for it, pretending and mimicking until we finally grasp it. But once we have it we learn to be careful with it. We learn what it takes to be careful with a heart that someone gives to us. We play this game of trading hearts and we realize the permanence of this. At one point we may get our heart back; we might find it abandoned or recklessly torn, but we never forget the person we traded hearts with. The time we spent with them. The ways in which they defined us and may still do so today.

We have this moment with another forever. A moment that is never washable. A moment that will always be there.

So what is love to you?


The premise for this “Love Is” post has been inspired by Lauren Nicole’s Love +100 Strangers Project. I recommend checking it out, this girl is muy talented and the concept for this snapshot project is simple yet remarkable. Look for it also in my “cupcakes 4 thought” section.

Broken Hearts. Unfinished Sentences.

I once knew someone who could finish my sentence and I thought that was very special.

Boy meets Girl. Girl meets Boy.

It is the same drafted cliché every time. Some genius must have come up with the “classic love story” and we have all picked and pulled at it until it became fit to call our own.

Boy likes the smell of Girl’s hair. Girl likes the way she fits into Boy’s arms.

We fall in love. We find our minds always wandering back to that other person. We check the weather when forced to split apart, just to see how their day looks. We stock and store up happenings throughout our day that we want to tell that other person. We want to tell them what happened at the grocery store, that comment our boss made towards us at work, the times when we were reminded of them in the tiniest of ways.

Girl needs space. Boy wants to hold on. Boy is torn. Girl is

confused. Boy and Girl both let go. God hears the breaking of two hearts. Boy and Girl wonder: was it worth it?

I have yet to meet the person who has enjoyed a broken heart. I hope I never do. Falling in love, to me, is the scariest verb because before we can fully experience it we must offer ourselves up to vulnerability, leave our minds open to the possibility of going in with one person and coming out alone.

I don’t know how much I believe in the “one love lifetime.” Although Noah and Allie were down for each other, I think sometimes that we are too unique of a species to have only one love. Some people marry their one true love and this is of no disrespect to them, but a lot of times we watch our hearts break before we find the one who picks up the pieces and puts our heart back together in a completely new way.

But am I one who believes that the splitting of two people calls as a worthy occasion to take out life’s giant eraser and wipe that person off of the pages that they used to occupy so perfectly? Not a chance.

A broken heart leaves us bitter, not wanting to remember the good times, wanting to just forget that we ever allowed ourselves to do a trust fall into Love’s arms. But a broken heart exists so that when our heart is whole again, we simply know. We no longer feel resentment or pain, grief or loneliness. And then eventually we find a way to pull out the lessons that were carefully sewn into our knowing the other person and we  eventually walk away in one piece.

Well yes, I once knew someone who could finish my sentences and for a while that was very special. We both broke each others’ hearts. But I learned in time how to finish my own sentences and add bigger, more beautiful words, along the way.