Labeling Love

We were piled together on the bed, legs entwined, watching a little icon of Andrew’s head moving along a map of Glendale. He sometimes forgot to answer his phone, so he’d shared his location to keep us from worrying.

“I think he’s just getting off the 134,” Shannon said, as the Andrew Icon took a left.

“He’s home! Boo’s home!” Jasmine shouted, sliding off the bed and running out the front door. We could hear her screaming, “Boo!” through an open window.

Andrew had been gone for probably less than twelve hours and he’d been Jasmine’s devoted boyfriend for almost six years. But Jasmine ran out that door like he’d been in outer space for six months.

I used to greet my dad with that kind of enthusiasm. He always came home from work just in time for dinner. I don’t know if dinner was always at the same time or if my mom would call him when it was almost ready, but I knew when I could smell herbs in the kitchen, it meant Dad was on his way home.

We owned two houses in a small Connecticut neighborhood on the Long Island sound. We had tenants in one, but Dad still ran his stress management business from the garage office in the backyard. Just before dinnertime, he’d lock up and head down the street towards our new house, flip flops flapping against the asphalt. Our neighborhood had sidewalks, but no one drove over fifteen miles an hour, so people usually moseyed along the middle of the road. Dad would pass the tennis courts and the playground, probably waving to everyone he saw and stopping to chat with neighbors mowing their lawns or bringing in groceries.

Meanwhile, my sister and I would sit impatiently at the table, listening to chirping summer cicadas, Mom’s sizzling vegetables, and the sighing of a salty breeze passing through the marsh grass in our backyard. But those sounds blended together when we heard the crisp jingling of Dad’s keys in the door. We’d explode out of our seats and skid around corners, racing for the first Dad hug. It was never truly a competition. He always had room for both of us in his arms.

I don’t know when we stopped running to hug Dad at the door. Maybe it was when school started back up again, or maybe it lasted until we moved to a new neighborhood. But my dad still reminisces about being greeted by his daughters every day after work.

“Andrew, did you find Jasmine?!” Shannon asked when he came through the front door.

“Yeah, she came bursting out of the bushes shouting ‘Boo!’ and ran into the street,” He said. His big blue eyes twinkled like a kid’s on Christmas morning. He was excited to see Jasmine too — even after almost six years of dating and two or three years of living together.

I never thought it was possible to like anyone as much as a little girl loves her dad when she still thinks he’s a superhero. It’s a pure, inexperienced love. It’s like the love I felt with my first boyfriend. I didn’t know how it felt to be burned by a guy, so I carelessly gave him my whole heart.

Afterwards, I thought of that as teenage love. Real adults don’t run towards each other when they are overwhelmed with joy. My parents showed us a calm love. My mom definitely misses my dad when he’s away on business, but I’ve never seen her hurry to the door to welcome him home. I’m sure she did at one point, but I thought that lasting love morphed away from passion and into contentment.

Yet somehow, Jasmine and Andrew have found that sweet spot between enthusiastic love and comfortable love, which they’ve blended into a lasting love. And now I’m starting to wonder if all these different types of love are actually just shades of one love: Running to the Door Love.

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