Poetry & Prose

Babies in Polka Dots

The first time we lay eyes on her we’ll be repulsed. We’ll think of all the sleepless nights that lie ahead, and wonder why we didn’t fill our cellar with wine instead. We’ll be too engrossed in visions of vomit and diapers to even worry about the hundreds of thousands of dollars we’ll spend on her college education. But among these pesadillas we’ll know she’s the one.

They say that love at first sight doesn’t exist, but I’m starting to rethink that.

You see, the first time I said it was to my mom. I have seen her wrinkled, round face a thousand times before, and I hope to see it a thousand times again. And when her time has come and gone, my love for her won’t let me forget the way she would shuffle into my room and leap onto my bed asking, “You ok?” Your mom is your first love—so when I gave her the fingerpaint clusterfuck of a mess as a token of my love I meant it more than ever.

The next time I said it, I had just tasted Nutella for the first time at age 11. (Note the pronunciation is /N^tella/ not /Nu:tella/). I was with my cousins, parents, aunts, and uncles, all of us huddled around a jar of the velvety smooth spread. As a quick snack, we spread it over a thin, crispy bread-like wafer, and my family awaited my reaction. “I love it!” I shouted, and my voice cracked, but I meant it just as much as when I said it to my mom because I knew the comforting, satisfying chocolate-hazelnut ambrosia would always be there for me through every bout of heartbreak, worry, and sorrow. After a fight with my boyfriend, a failed exam, or when I missed my best friends—it was always there for me.

The next time I said it was when I discovered Grey’s Anatomy and I entered my first long-term committed relationship… with a television show. I turned down plans with friends and family to make sure I was up to date. You see I’ve always told people I wanted to be a doctor, but if every childhood dream were fulfilled there would be a lot of pop stars, doctors, and marine biologists. Disclaimer, Grey’s Anatomy is not anything like being a real doctor. If you’ve spent time in free clinics or non-trauma hospital you know that medicine is eerily slow, painfully redundant, but also very satisfying. What I do love about Grey’s Anatomy is that it reminds me that doctors are human…patients are human… everyone is going to get angry, make mistakes, and feel stupid, but whatever field you go into, please remember to appreciate the other people you work with. Take pride in your work, love yourself first, and respect others. It’s funny, but Grey’s Anatomy has guided me through a lot of my hardships, and for that, it will always have a special place in my heart (even after 11 seasons).

And so, the next time I said those three words they were bookends, seemingly an accident. I didn’t realize that my best friend was my best friend until four years of high school had passed by and we had already made it through graduation. We never struggled through classes or slaved away at summer jobs together, but she and I simply make sense together. She now attends UCLA, which is approximately 3,004 miles or six hours and 25 minutes away by plane, but she has always been there for me. When my eyes are bloodshot at three AM and I’m crying over something…anything…everything, even if she has midterms, she hits pause and is there for me to pick up the pieces and helps me be okay again. We used to have a 40-year plan together—I’m sure we’re not the only ones. We said that if neither of us had any serious relationship or partner at the time, we would get married for the tax benefits, and spend the wedding money on a lifetime of the best food we could find! Luna, I love you, you fish tank scrubbing wild child, you!

And finally, there is the romantic I love you. When I was growing up, I considered myself a hopeless romantic. I have watched 85 percentof the movies under Netflix’s “romantic comedy” category, and I pride myself on finishing the films no matter how horribly written or produced they are. As an angst ridden teenager, I hoped for true love but felt unlovable. I told myself love at first sight couldn’t exist because how could you love someone you didn’t know? What if they don’t have THIS quality or THAT factor? I planned out imaginary weddings and dates that only played out in my head; my mind was full of goals and rules I had seen online. At some point I let go of all my expectations and started spending the energy to cherish my friends. I spent more time falling in love with myself and my work. I broke free from a fortress of expectations, and that was when I met you. The first time I set eyes on you, I didn’t know I loved you.

But ever so slowly since our 11-hour first date to this very day, I fall more and more in love with you. Taking your clothes off in front of someone might not be easy, but bearing your scars, fears, and aspirations is absolutely horrifying, borderline impossible. But I did it because you made it possible. I didn’t know I would fall in love with you the first time I met you, but I couldn’t imagine life without you now. I love that you can tell what flower a honey sample is from and that your favorite food is dumplings. I love that you can’t sleep if you’re hungry and that you sleep like a grandma, so 10 pm is late to you. I love that you are humble about your success and that I have to brag for you, otherwise no one else would know how brilliant you are. OJ, I love you.

I once read that falling in love is like reaching for an oatmeal raisin cookie that turns out to be a chocolate chip cookie with more chocolate chips than you can see—that’s pretty accurate. In short, most things in life aren’t love at first sight. My mom, best friend, and significant other took a long time for me to learn to love. But that’s exactly it, I’ve had the time and practice to learn how to love. And so that’s how I know that the first time we’ll lay eyes on our baby girl in navy blue and white polka dots, we’ll love her instantly, unconditionally, and indefinitely.

Photo by Misako Ono.

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