I love grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
Before you turn up your nose you must, as everyone constantly says to me, give it a try. The way that the peanut butter melts into the jelly, the warmth and crispness of the bread, the great big goopy mess of everything, the smell that fills the space giving your stomach a wake up call, it is a truely magnificent sandwich.
In Portugal I would be looked at funny for saying that I love a sandwich. I can really really really like the sandwich. I can adore the sandwich. I can say that the sandwich is the best thing ever. But to say that I LOVE the sandwich would instantly set me apart as someone not of this land.
In Portugal (in my experience) you love your family. You love your spouse. You might be able to love your country though I've never tried to say that. Other than those things I'm not sure that you say, "Love" to too much more than that.
Now I can understand the Portuguese mentality to an extent. Do I really love the new book that I just read? Do I really love chocolate? Or the new Facebook application? Does my claiming love for every little thing that pops up in my life cheapen the word? I don't know.
But I miss love. I miss hearing people claim that they care about something other than bloodties enough to say they love it. I miss people loving their job. I miss people loving an activity. Music, food, the ocean. I love a lot of things, certainly not in the same way that I love my family or the spouse that I one day hope to have. But I know that the way that my heart warms when I go to my friends house and their child laughs and reaches for me is more than me really really liking her. I know that the way my spirit lifts when I hear the first few beats of the first dance song of the evening are more than me adoring the individual notes that I hear. I know that, even on my most difficult of days, there is no other kind of work that I want to dedicate myself to and that the feeling that I have in front of the classroom or working one on one is soooo much more than appreciation.
I have conformed. While the word love has moved into one of the rarer words I use, (which makes me very very sad to type) I will happily look about the world I live in with love that hopefully pours out in my actions, my language, my very eyes, to the point that when people want to describe me to others they will be forced, despite nationality, custum or habit, to use the word... love.