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I took a crosstown bus to a night-in with my version of the Sex & the City squad. We got apple bacon pizza and paired it with some Ommegang. We walked the Upper East Side, got too distracted at the market, and strolled back to a cozy apartment for a movie and continued chit-chat. We failed the Bechdel Test and the conversation pivoted into "Have you ever been in love?"

Unlike Carrie, I know it's not my business to share Charlotte's or Miranda's. However, like Carrie, the words that flowed out of my mouth in that moment are the same that will be painted by my keyboard to be published.

So to answer, "Have you ever been in love?"...yes, I have. I've been in love more than once but less than a handful. I've had puppy love, I've had my first real love, I've had slow burn love, and firework love.

I had my first boyfriend. I was 18 and he was 20. We spent 8 months together and he set the bar. We said I love yous but I couldn't tell you how, or where, or when the words were first said. I adored him, and he showed me that I was capable and deserving of the little things. I was in puppy love, and genuinely loved him but knew there was an expiration date. I knew it wasn't my forever, but the one to open the door and guide me to romance. I'll always have a little spot in my heart for our time and wild appreciation for how gentle, smart, kind, and thoughtful he was to me and is still.

At 18, shortly after the breakup from my first relationship and the summer before college, I met someone else. Our first date was at the diner where 110 meets Montauk Highway. I got calarmi and he got a BEC at 8 PM. I can still see his face, embarrassed and panicking as he used napkin after napkin after napkin to attempt to keep the runny egg off his stubble. We drove to Cedar Beach afterward. There was a band on stage; we sat by the water and talked for hours with the sound of the music behind us. He drove me home, in his mom's car, and kissed me after walking me up the porch. It's still so vivid in my memory. I stepped inside, gently closed the wooden door, and dramatically leaned my back on it like I was in a coming-of-age movie. Why? Because I had never been kissed like that. And because the whole evening FELT like a movie. I loved that boy for almost a decade after that date but had only said so less than a handful of times. Still, I wish nothing but the best for him...and the Knicks for him. He caused so much damage, so many memories, so many lessons, but..even to this day, I will always have a soft spot for the boy who never really tried.

In March of 2020, just like the rest of the doomed and hopelessly bored, I met someone. We met on Bumble and would FaceTime for six to seven hours every night. We'd have virtual dates like the Georgia Aquarium tour or The Front Bottoms live streams. Eventually, we met for a socially distant date. We met in Bethpage Park. I blew him a kiss as we parted ways and that became a tradition that we only ever broke twice. Our first "date" was bagels on the beach...sitting six feet apart. He drove to three different stores to get the Mango Arizona that I requested. We spent two years having bagels and Mango Arizona's at all the small-town beaches across Long Island. But Gold Star was our very favorite one.

He said he knew he loved me that first July. He didn't tell me until mid-September. It came out during a fight....about the boy I had loved before. I'll never forget how he screamed it at me in his parent's den. "Because I'm IN LOVE WITH YOU".

Lastly, the overwhelming glow surfaced again for the fourth time in my life. Like the Grinch's heart...the feeling grew three sizes. We met on Hinge. "You look exceptionally cute, fun, and cool" was the opening line in reply to the last photo on my profile. I was just chatting about deleting the apps when that message came through. He scrolled through to the end of my romantically motivated digital elevator pitch, he made a comment, and he had no grammatical errors. I accepted the invitation to chat and the conversation didn't stop. We talked all day. And every day. We could keep six separate thoughts going in strings of iMessages, DM's, phone calls, and FaceTimes. We could have three conversations in person at the same time. We'd bookmark, table, and circle back without hesitation. Our brains just worked together.

Our first date was one of my all-time favorites. And our second? I was sold. But those memories shall live in my mind exclusively, not to be exposed. Why share the others and not the most recent? Because I know the moment that I fell in love with him. But he doesn't. answer "Have you ever been in love?"..yes. I have. And I hope to be again. But I'm thankful that I am one of the lucky ones who can say she has given, gotten, experienced, and even lost love.

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