This Valentine’s Day,  Hothouse’s website staff decided to rebel against cynicism and scorn commodification—they wrote about the different ways they experience love. From a wedding to a quinceañera, read on to discover how love appears (in all its forms!) to each website writer.

Christie Basson, Website Editor:

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This photo is from my parents’ wedding day and I love it for the way my dad is looking at my mom—I feel like that one glance says more than words ever could. This is also one of the few photos I have of my grandfather, who passed away when I was little, and so it means even more. I found this in an old box in my grandmother’s house and when I asked if I could have it, she nodded and said she understood exactly why.

Kylie Warkentin, Managing and Website Editor:

Pan with vegetables sauting

I’m not very good at mincing onions because I have no wrist strength and cry a comical amount around the third or fourth cut. I’ve recently discovered the punch of red onions, which podcasts complement my Sunday morning meal prep, and that you can put soy sauce on basically anything and credibly refer to it as a stir fry. Barry Jenkins, director and co-writer of Moonlight (2016), said “When you cook for someone, that’s a deliberate act of nurturing. This very simple thing is the currency of genuine intimacy.” All of my roommates joke about how terrible I am at cooking, but help me cut a sweet potato and lend me flour for vegan pumpkin muffins, anyway. I wake up every day with my peanut butter toast and coffee and learn.

Abbey Bartz, Website Staff Writer:

“I hope you never lose your sense of wonder

You get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger…

I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean

Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens

Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance

And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance

I hope you dance”

– “I Hope You Dance” by Lee Ann Womack

I was a daddy’s girl growing up. Whatever my dad was doing, I wanted to help, whether it was fixing something in the garage, gardening, or going to Home Depot. Country music is my dad’s favorite, so country songs became the soundtrack of my childhood. My dad always had a country CD on in the background at home, or a country station on in his truck when he drove me home from school. Some of the songs that we listened to over and over again back then are still my favorites today. He and I still talk about music together, each of us letting the other know when we’ve found a song we think the other will like.

Among all the other useful skills he taught me, from plumbing to gardening to woodworking, my dad taught me to dance when I was little. He used to waltz and two-step through the living room with me. Even now, I can recognize waltz almost immediately when I hear it, although I have sort of forgotten how to waltz. He re-taught me to two-step recently, now that I’m old enough to go out and two-step on my own.

Kayla Bollers, Website Staff Writer:

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They pull you close to their chest. When your arms tighten, so do theirs. Your hearts beat in unison between your ribs as you soak in body heat and tears. Their joy is yours, and your sorrow is theirs. In that moment you are warm, you are safe, you are home.

Leah Park, Website Staff Writer: 

We were driving home from the hospital and my uncle told me that my bedridden grandmother wanted to apologize. When I asked why, he told me she felt bad that we had to go visit her all the time at the hospital for all these years. She still wanted to go to Disneyland together, a promise she made so many years ago. My eyes went misty and I said thank you out the car window.

To think my grandmother had remembered a promise she made to a toddler so long ago, despite having suffered hardships such as hospitalization and the loss of her legs as well as the loss of her hearing and vision. I loved her a lot, she still is a big inspiration to me to this day.

Lindsey Ferris, Website Staff Writer: 

Darkness presses against my eyes as I lie in bed with warm covers pulled up to my neck. My mom lays beside me and her pressure pushes down the mattress until my small body curves into her side. We’ve been whispering for the last hour and had slowly lapsed into silence. Just soaking in the other’s presence before bed time called.

Natalie Nobile, Website Staff Writer: 

“I can’t smile without you

I can’t laugh and I can’t sing 

I’m finding it hard to do anything” 

“Can’t Smile Without You” by Barry Manilow

Ah, a sharp cheddar from the very god of cheese.  Describing love by the hole it left, Manilow’s up-tempo lament mourns not only a lost partner but also what he lost with them: the smile, laugh, and voice of his previous self.  “But Natalie,” you say, “He’s… using his voice to sing.”  Aha, well, by the time of performance, he’s regained that voice— the song expresses hurt from a later, healed perspective.  Due to its irrepressibly fuzzy nature, I will jam out to it in public, whenever, wherever.  WITNESS ME.

Stephanie Pickrell, Website Staff Writer

x

I thought I loved the rain,
but it was just the sound
of you pacing in the kitchen
when it was too wet to go outside
and the slow, sad sigh of your breath
in the air.

— by Stephanie Pickrell

Vanessa Simerskey, Website Staff Writer:

“Life’s not the breathes you take

But the moments that take your breath away

Just like it took my breath away when she was born”

“The Breath You Take”  by George Strait

My dad chose this song to dance to for the father-daughter dance at my quinceañera. At first, my adolescent mind didn’t quite understand why he picked this song. But as I continued to listen, I began to appreciate the meaning behind the lyrics. He picked this song to remind me how much he cherished the memories of me growing up and how he’d always be there for me. As I listen to it now, I remember my uncoordinated feet spinning around on the dance floor along with every time he stood by my side, believed in me (when I couldn’t), and loved me unconditionally.

Posted by:hothouselitjournal

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