Culture Life

Why I am constantly drawn to lavender

I find that my most blissful moments remind me of the strong, calming scent of lavender. For one reason or another, I relate it to a lot of the more meaningful aspects of my life. To me, lavender is like a feeling; like the wind brushing up against your skin.

While I think that lavender is largely optimistic, I also find a certain sorrow that is comfortable, even humble, in its presence. I’ve come to appreciate it in every shape and form – the color, the flower, the scent. Its hard to place; not sweet or bitter, but rather musty. 

Lavender manages to incorporate itself into my life seemingly on a whim and in the most fleeting of moments. We have a peculiar relationship. I am stomach-knottingly anxious in the presence of many, especially when I first meet them. But, with some, I sense lavender, and I know that something great is about to happen. It is more of a feeling than anything else. Just talking to some people can be rejuvenating, and perhaps it is because our meeting reminds me of that warm, soft smell of a mid-spring day when the sun is bright and pure, and the entire day lies ahead.

Nowadays, when I am feeling an emotion that is simply beyond words, I say that I am overflowing with lavender. 

According to etymology, the English word “lavender” is derived from the Latin “lavare,” which translates to “to wash.” It is a necessary refinement – a cleanse. I am purified with every utterance of the word. 

Perhaps it’s not just me. In literature, lavender has been used significantly as a token of love. To me, it’s more like a notion of love at first sight. Shakespeare offers a bouquet of “hot lavender” in The Winter’s Tale. Cleopatra also roots lavender with love, as she is said to have used its sultry perfume to seduce both Julius Caesar and Mark Antony. Christians are also known to have used it as a repellent of evil. The plant is said to have been taken from the Garden of Eden and is sometimes found hanging in a cross shape above the doors of some Christian households as a means of protection. There are so many songs with the title lavender, my favorite being by The Beach Boys, and there have also been many poems written about it, too. Take, for example, this quote by an anonymous writer, “as rosemary is to the spirit, lavender is to the soul.” 

Lavender is swift, like a movement, carrying me in and out of perfectly imperfect moments. The vision of it is rather uplifting as well. It stands delicately tall among the rest, but it is not intimidating either. I adore its confrontation. In fact, I look forward to it. 

Love + Sex Love Humor

10 crushes you’ll have before you’re 25

We’ve all had crushes. It’s that special person who walks into a room and fills your stomach with butterflies. You hate it, but secretly love it. Even people in relationships have harmless, fleeting crushes. These crushes are usually playful and far from serious. They just give us a tiny rush of adrenaline that gets you through the day.

Here is a list of the crushes that you’ll probably encounter before you’re 25.

1. The Celebrity

Jason Momoa smiling (via Giphy)

My celebrity crush is Jason Momoa. He’s so dreamy and hunky and cool and perfect. He’s my ultimate crush and an unhealthy obsession. Sorry, not sorry.

2. Dog walker guy

Dog licking man’s face (via Giphy)

OK. Be honest with yourself, he’s not that cute… but his dog is freaking adorable. And the furry little fellow smiled at you! This guy only seems attractive because he has a dog. You fantasize having a relationship with him, except you spend more time thinking about his canine companion than him.

3. Your childhood beau

High school student in plaid shirt looking distraught with a quote reading “I don’t even count, right” (via Giphy)

He was your first love. You used to dream of getting married to him as you scribbled his name in your notebook. Now that you’re older, you think it would be such a cute story if you two would fall in love. Maybe, he was the hottest kid in the yard back in the day, but admit it, now he’s kind of a dweeb.

4. Barista bae

Barista making latte (via Giphy)

He’s the first person you want to see in the morning and the only one who can get you through the day. He knows your order by heart and doesn’t judge when you when you’re a cranky. He always knows when you need a pick-me-up and gives you your order free of charge. His face is definitely one that you’d like to wake up to.

5. The guy with an accent to die for

Cedric Diggory smiling (via Giphy)

He’s charming and sweet and from a someplace that you want to visit. He always comes into class slightly late but he gets away with it. You love the way that he translates his expressions literally. Everybody adores him and his charming, flirty, ways.

6. The super attractive one

Young Ashton Kutcher thinking “I’m the best person to look at in this room. No, in this whole town. No, in this state.”

You only like him when he’s not talking. He’s gorgeous until he opens his mouth and says something atrocious.  But still, you can’t help crushing on him though because he’s so damn fine.

7. That Gym Bro

Anthony Joshua flexing biceps (via Giphy)

He’s not one of those fitness mansplainers. He’s polite, shy, and has amazing biceps. You picture the both of you together at the gym, of course, doing one of those cringey, PDA-infused workouts. You occasionally make some small talk, but you’ll never forget that time your fingers brushed while reaching for dumbbells.

8. World traveler passing through your home town

Crowd parting to reveal a rugged Indian Jones (via Giphy)

He’s been everywhere and he’s got the passport stamps to prove it. His stories are unbelievable, like the one where he saved an orphan on the way to his then girlfriend’s grandmother’s funeral and later that day ended up at a rave in a neighboring country. There’s no telling how long he’ll stay or if you’ll ever see him again. Part of you secretly hopes he’ll whisk you off your feet and into an overseas adventure filled with romance.

9. Woman Crush Wednesday

Rihanna hair flipping (via Giphy)

This lady has her life together. You want to be with her and be her at the same time. Maybe if you spend enough time together, her personality will rub off on you, and you could rub off on her too.

10. The Hidden Gem

Hugh Grant saying”that’s umm.. perfect” (via Giphy)

Sometimes it’s not the loudest or most beautiful people who catch your attention. It’s the shy guy who you suddenly get lost in conversation with at a bookstore or art show. You like the way they think and their humble, dignified nature. They’re interesting and deep and there’s so much there for you to explore.

There are so many other kinds of crushes you will run into at this exciting time of your life. Whether you choose to go after them or stay at a safe distance is your choice. Sometimes you can’t help but delve deeper and get to know someone. Be careful who you choose to get to close to, it might turn into so much more.

Love Life Stories

How ‘The Spark’ could be working against you

We are all, through experience or observation, aware of ‘The Spark’. We’re told about it in all the stories of how our parents met, in the dating advice our friends give us, in the anecdote about how an uncle adopted a stray dog on a whim. Every story chronicling the beginning of a significant relationship features ‘The Spark’ in some way, shape or form. Maybe it’s romantic love at first sight, or laughing at the same joke and knowing you’ll be friends forever. Maybe it’s instant, intense hatred. What it’s not is casual interest, or indifference, or anything that doesn’t jolt you awake and make it very difficult to get back to sleep.

Using the evidence I have acquired by being in constant observation of feelings and art and other humans, I have formulated the following definition of ‘the spark’: ‘the spark’ is a definite and undeniable physical, emotional, and psychological indicator of belonging. It is the closest we get to proof that Fate really does exist and that she is sending us one of those signs we keep asking for.

Popular 'The Muppets' characters Kermit and Miss Piggy stare lovingly at each other in the midst of a crowd.
[Image description: Popular ‘The Muppets’ characters Kermit and Miss Piggy stare lovingly at each other in the midst of a crowd.] Via Giphy.
My mother says she felt it when she met my father. My cousin says she felt it when she met her fiancé. Almost anyone I know that’s in a healthy and committed relationship mentions knowing. Meet-cutes in movies and impassioned lyrics about love at first sight have only reiterated this narrative. But do we always know? And is knowing a prerequisite for a successful relationship? Or are the pressures we place on first impressions standing in the way of real connection?

The science behind love at first sight asks even more questions of it – whether it’s love or lust you’re experiencing, whether it’s still love if it is unrequited, whether there’s still a chance if ‘the spark’ doesn’t come into play at first. To answer the first question, a recent study concludes that a lot of the same areas of the brain respond to both lust and love, making it confusing to pinpoint which you’re feeling. The difference in how your brain processes love and lust, however, is that it treats the former as a more abstract, complex representation of the latter. Whether love grows out of lust or whether the two can exist simultaneously remains unanswered.

A redheaded man and a brunette man speak to each other at a bar. The latter says to the former, 'Do you believe in love at first sight or should I walk in again?'
[Image description: A redheaded man and a brunette man speak to each other at a bar. The latter says to the former, ‘Do you believe in love at first sight or should I walk in again?’] Via Giphy.
Love at first sight is, apparently, often one-sided, although one partner’s intense initial reaction may influence the other’s recollection of that first meeting. And as for whether a relationship can be successful if there is no spark present initially – only a third of Americans have reported experiencing love at first sight, and yet more than half of them are in relationships. So maybe there is life beyond ‘The Spark’. Why, then, am I still so preoccupied with the concept?

It could be because I’ve heard more success stories coming out of love at first sight than not. Or that I’ve watched Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes stare at each other from either side of a fish tank one too many times. Or that I’m surrounded by romantics who could have, in retrospect, projected the intimacy and affection they feel in their relationships currently onto its inception. Which is why I wonder whether ‘The Spark’, and my fixation with feeling it immediately, is standing in my way when it comes to forming meaningful relationships. I’ve built my expectations up so high for the first meeting that I won’t give anyone a chance unless, when we first meet, a solar eclipse, a medical miracle and world peace all occur simultaneously.

A young man and woman, playing Romeo and Juliet respectively, stare at each other in wonderment from either side of a fish tank.
[Image description: A young man and woman, playing Romeo and Juliet respectively, stare at each other in wonderment from either side of a fish tank.] Via Giphy.
Perhaps we should stop putting so much pressure on first meetings, on first impressions, on all kinds of firsts. Second, third, fourth chances are all opportunities for a delayed Spark. After that, I’m drawing the line. If it’s not love at fourth sight, then it’s not love. And if it doesn’t keep me up all night feeling like several sparklers are being lit in my stomach, brain, and heart, then it deserves to be slept on.