She told me she loved me. She said it with such assurance of what love is, I had to ask.
She answered, “Love is love, you know?”
I said, “No.”
“Well, everybody knows what love is,” she said.
“It’s like a feeling?”
“Yes,” she said. “A feeling you have for your children, parents, maybe a pet, a lover.”
“It’s just the feeling?”
“Mostly the feeling,” she said.
“Hmmmmmmm,” I said.
“I don’t like you very much,” I said. “But I think I still love you.”
“If you don’t like me, then how can you love me?”
“Because, even though I don’t like you, I’d do more for you than I’d do for most other people,” I said.
“Like, if you’re in desperate need, I’ll do something to help you out of your need, which I wouldn’t do for most people I don’t like.”
“Why would you do it for me if you don’t like me?” she asked.
“Well, I’m not sure if it’s out of duty or love, but I’ll do it. I suppose it’s an obligation.”
“It doesn’t sound much like that feeling I described,” she said. “That feeling for a lover or your favorite pet.”
“No,” I said.
“Telling me you don’t like me isn’t very nice,” she said.
“But it’s true,” I said.
“Why don’t you like me?”
“Because you’re very shallow,” I said. “Shallow when it comes to most things. And you don’t even care that you’re so shallow. You don’t even care how your life full of shallowness has affected others.”
“But I love you,” she said.
“But you don’t know what love is beyond some vague feeling,” I said. “And you don’t even give a fuck about understanding it any other way. You’d rather force feed anybody else your shallow understanding than ever reconsider your own vapid understanding of the thing.”
“I love you anyway, even if you don’t love me.”
“I might love you,” I said. “But I don’t like you. And please, let me remind you, love is not distorting the point a person has diligently and painstakingly tried to make.”
“You are not perfect either,” she said.
“I never claimed to be.”
“But I love you anyway.”
“And I love you too, though it’s in a much different way.”
“It is hard for me to accept that you do not like me,” she said. “Especially when I’ve told you how much I love you.”
“Yes,” I said. “I understand that. I’ve always understood. And that is why love is such a different thing for each of us.”