Brooke Pollock / Daily Nexus

Some people collect keychains, others collect comic books or maybe stamps; I collect love.

Love consumes me and I consume it: in experiences I’ve had, people I’ve met, places I’ve been and all the things I’ve yet to do. I love wholly, fully, some would even say overpoweringly. I am constantly giving and receiving love —  it’s an ebb and flow, reminiscent of oxygen. I’m always breathing it in and out. Not one speck of love can be wasted.

I know I’m taking a very strong stance on love here and others could argue that their love is, in fact, wasted. In past relationships where they gave everything and it was all for nothing. For old friends who ended up stabbing them in the back. When they were nice to a stranger who didn’t quite deserve it, or feel like they always give a little more than they receive. Yes, I hear these rebuttals and I simply disagree: there is no love that wasn’t worth giving. 

I spent this past summer running in and out of San Francisco streets, giggling on the BART, hiding out in bookstores and traveling hours to see someone who I don’t speak to anymore. I would stay up all hours of the night to keep talking to him — he was all I could think about. Now, I am left with his ghost and the graveyard of our love that exists in our texts.

Arguably, however, I would do it all over again. Nothing was wasted: no time, energy, money or love. 

I got to spend this summer, in love, living out a fairytale. We hiked in Berkeley and found romance around every corner. We always joked about how our love story was “movie-esque” or how we gave Romeo and Juliet a run for their money. Now, playing back our love like I’m rewinding a tape, I can confirm. Our love was bountiful and naive and exactly what I always wished for. I found someone who listened to me, who was gentle with me, who sacrificed things for me. I have permanent memories and reminders of him, even though our time was cut short. 

It’s immensely comforting to transport myself back to our time on the train, us both trying to figure out how to work BART as we go into the city together. His arm gently placed around me, the redness in my cheeks protruding through my concealer. Every new touch was a jolt through my system, every new conversation was just as riveting as the one before. I was finally face to face with love: being completely seen and still accepted.

We don’t speak anymore, but that doesn’t mean his presence was erased. I am reminded of him in antique stores or when I go to the city or when I hear certain songs. I think of him when I do my eyebrows, when I read a book in a day or ask someone what their word of the day is. 

I am so thankful for this love, because its remnants keep my days lively and my heart happy. My small reminders of him show me that good love exists and it wasn’t all for nothing. His love comforts me — and holding onto these memories transports me back under the sweet July sun where we were playing Mad Libs on a bench in Orinda.

Love infects every aspect of me — not just romantically. My childhood friends, whom I speak minimally to now, were vital to my childhood. Their love allowed me to grow into who I am and the innocent memories of swapping food in lunch boxes or playing HORSE in their front yards still put a smile on my face, all these years later. 

Even if I don’t speak to some of my friends anymore, I cannot deny the absolute happiness and love I felt in our memories. Riding ferris wheels and laughing until our stomachs hurt, excitedly waiting for our next sleepover. The friendship ended, but we can’t ignore the love that still exists.

I think to myself: just because it’s over, doesn’t mean it was wasted. I believe it is imperative to learn how to gently hold a memory for what it was in that moment and find all of the love and goodness in it. Oh how it helps my heart beat. 

I keep every card ever given to me, every old movie ticket bought, every prom corsage, any and all small morsels of love are kept with me. 

My love sits in the top right corner of my childhood bedroom’s closet, a light pink box filled with cards and a heavy layer of dust on the lid.

My love sits in my college apartment, hung polaroids of notable memories with my roommates and posters reflecting who I am at my core. 

My love sits with my friends, who are always one sentence away from making me laugh and who, without exception, hold their arms open for a hug.

My love sits with my past love, in restaurant booths and picnic tables and in my car. It’s hidden in the melodies of our favorite songs and it’s in his voice. 

My love sits with me, as I am who I am because of it. My love is who I am — it’s how I dress, how my eyes light up, the cadence of my voice. I am proud to be made up of the things I love.

The next time you want to swear off love, or forget a relationship or friendship, think about how dull life is without love. It is quite literally the substance of our lives. Keep loving, keep giving and getting it back.

Kira Logan challenges readers to tally every time she says love in her article about love.

A version of this article appeared on p. 14 of the February 8, 2024 print edition of the Daily Nexus.