Happiness, Love, and Money

When I was little, I didn’t know that happiness was something you could someday not have. It didn’t occur to me that it was something you could lose. After all, what was life if not happiness with some tough times sprinkled through, like when dad would yell at me for wandering off too far from our apartment building, or when I scratched up a neighbor’s car for fun and thoughtfully wrote my full name on it.

All I thought you could want from life as an adult is money. I mean, what else was there? Happiness is a given, so that only leaves that sweet, sweet moolah, right? I wanted to be a lawyer, because I knew they were smart and rich. Life as an adult was all about the money.

Then halfway into my sixteenth year as a member of the human race, I found myself flat on my face in a pile of misery. It was gone. My life literally changed when my happiness was taken away from me and instead replaced with intense yearning, desperation, and an overall sense of total futility. I had fallen in love for the first time in my life and it came at me like a wrecking ball through a styrofoam wall. Cupid put his heavy boot – big feet for such a little guy – on my neck and held my face down in the mud as I gurgled on my hopes and dreams. It was my first time, but he didn’t think it appropriate to be gentle. Full-blown savage, that guy.

I have had crushes on girls for as long as I can remember. I remember all their names, their faces, their scents, their voices, the dimples in their cheeks, their freckles, their laughs, and the way their palms felt as they slapped my face. I remember all the ways I’d try to get their attention, all the daydreams I had about them, all the songs I’d listen to while thinking of them, all the notes, the carvings on trees, the mixtapes, the late-night talks as I grew older, everything.

I have fallen in love more times than I can count and often in less time than it takes me to blink. I’ve always had a romanticized view on life and there have been countless girls who I knew within seconds of just seeing them for the first time that I just had to find a way to run off into the sunset with them. But at sixteen, there was nothing romantic about what was going on. It was just brutal, it was like my heart went into overdrive and save for pulling it out of my chest, there was nothing that could stop it. Now all the happiness I had was crushed under the beauty of her smile, her mesmerizing hair, Christ, did you see her eyes, is she even… There is no way she is of this world, my god, what is… is that her voice?! It’s like angels playing sonnets in my ears, can you… Do you not hear it?! – I was a goner.

I don’t want to get into the details of it, but I will say this: the first girl I ever really fell in love with brought the world down on my head and woke me up to the harsh reality that happiness is not a given. Many years have passed and so has my love for her – unless you’re reading this now and you’d like to maybe get coffee sometime, or see a movie, or I don’t know, get married or something, whatever. Sadly, I never got back that inherent happiness I had inside of me. Life ever since has been a roller coaster of emotions, a series of ups and downs, of wins and losses, just a whole lotta “fine” with doom looming just around the corner. From what I gather this is just how life is for most people. No one – or most people, at least – gets to keep that default state of happiness. Life gets everyone in the end.

I don’t believe in soulmates, but I have been searching for mine for as long as I can remember. Ever since I lost my happiness, “the pursuit of happiness” for me has always been the pursuit of love. I had a concept of a pyramid once, “the pyramid of life” I’d call it, where love sat at the base of everything and the rest was built over it. You can’t build anything without a strong foundation, and that foundation for me is love. I mean sure, you could technically still have a pyramid if you cut off the base of one, but it would be like a smaller pyramid I guess, and who wants a stupid tiny pyramid anyway? Don’t overthink it, you get my point.

I grew up, found work, and got my hands on that sweet money. Bought a ton of expensive stuff and all it brought me was joy, not happiness. I mean sure, money’s great, I like having nice stuff and everything, but I don’t feel like money can buy anything to fill the emptiness inside my heart. And between you and me, I think my heart will forever be empty. Just a feeling I have.

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