We put a lot of emphasis on love at the Globe. We’ve tried to keep this focus on love a central part of our paper. We continue to have touching conversations, build community and encourage love for human storytelling and observation of the world around us. And we’re taking a step to expand the realm of this philosophy of ours.
Greatly inspired by the New York Times’ “Modern Love” column, Globe is following suit and presenting a “Love, The Globe” column. Each issue from now on will feature a commentary following one writer’s story with any form of love. In a world where the news can get heavy and dark, we hope these stories will help the light of love shine a little brighter.
-Mitali Sharma, Senior Editor
Love is often pictured as an infatuation, an attraction, a connection to a tangible being. But for me, love is an intangible passion for an intangible extence. Love is the deep clutch we hold on that which makes us glad to be alive. This love, my love, is not for a person, a place or even one thing. My love burns for the world that has opened up for me through my passion for languages.
In elementary school, I always felt talentless compared to my classmates. There were the soccer stars, the notebook doodlers, the girl with the pretty voice, the science geeks; I had nothing. I was just bland. Ordinary.
Until sixth grade during 4th period, when I entered my first French class. It was like something hit me, a coup de foudre. Love at first sight, or sound, I guess.
I felt myself blush, first a little, and then a lot. I was shy then, to a fault. The slightest idea of enjoying what my classmates seemed to dread– repeating words in another language- – gave me anxiety, so even just participating seemed like a courageous act. It seems crazy, but just hearing myself speak another language gave me an adrenaline rush. I felt something in me come alive, like someone who wasn’t myself. A spirit leapt out of me, and I was simply happy.
It was an indescribable pleasure, like someone had given me a taste of what I’d been deprived of for so long. But I was scared, obviously. It was middle school, and it wasn’t cool to be smart. Especially not at something like this.
I know what you’re thinking, what? But hey, at 11, you’re looking for something to define you, to put you in a box at this lunch table or in that clique. That never came for me. What did come, however, was a sense of a new beginning. Maybe I didn’t need to fit in, or get the guy, or hit the volleyball over the net because I had something special. I knew it on the first day, that I didn’t just have a passion for something for no reason. This was going to be good. French was a new beginning, a new start.
It isn’t just the idea of learning a new language. It was the fact that for the first time in my life, I had something I was good at. Something that I was excited about, the way my dog got when he saw a new toy, or my dad when someone told him James Bond was on TV.
All of a sudden I was excited to learn, because in my head, when I spoke French, I didn’t have to stay inside claustrophobic hallways or push past crowded lockers. I could go anywhere I wanted in the world, I could be anything I wanted to be, because suddenly I started believing in myself.
At night when I used to lie awake, running conversations over in my head, hating myself for wearing those neon pink jeans, I found that I could change the channel of my vision. Now middle school woes were traded in for Chanel pumps and sorbet by the Seine. When I tossed and turned about mean girls and out of balance hormones, I could blink and find myself sitting on a terrace by the Eiffel Tower. I began to get lost in my reveries, forever dreaming of the perfect life in the perfect place. It didn’t matter if I looked fat in those dreary gym uniforms because in my head, I would be tall, thin, and beautiful as my heels clicked on the pavement in the city of light.
When the years passed and the day to day battles got worse and worse, I immersed myself deeper into this vision. I held on so tight, too tight.
Fast forward a few years, and I was sure that the world was my oyster. I started picking up every scrap of a word I could find left on a shampoo bottle; I started seeing links between different languages and wrote anything and everything down. The vision remained clasped in my hand, but I started to also build up a drive for learning more languages, as communicating and understanding people from around the world grew to be my quest. I stalked random foreign exchange students and even pushed myself to learn Spanish; I just couldn’t get enough. My confidence grew and I never held back.
While doing all of that, I held on so tightly that I crashed.
Just like everything we love, we crave the things that hurt us. Yes, this intangible passion nearly broke me because I squeezed so much perfectionism out of it. If I couldn’t control anything else in my life, I could control that. I would, I had to control that. I turned a passion into an excuse to demand impossible standards for myself, some of which I still hold on to today, as much as I try not to.
So this love, my love, brought me down a little, but it also taught me a lot. I’ve come up on what I think is the other side, at least it seems to be, and I still have that brazen curiosity and ardor.
I fought the uphill battle and now I reap the rewards, an incredible view of the lifetime that lays ahead of me. They aren’t dreams anymore, because I’ve lived them. I’ve spent summer afternoons swirling around in a sundress in the village of Talloires, I’ve gotten lost in the falling dusk inside a city that was foreign, but never strange. I know that I am capable of doing what I’ve always imagined, because I’ve done it and I’ll do it again.
When I was in seventh grade, I announced to my French teacher that I had plans to move to France after college. Of course, she smiled, and laughed at me, and so did my parents.
Well, see you on the flip side, or, as the French like to say,