When it comes to love and relationships, penguins are of a very special breed. Once a penguin chooses a mate, they usually stay together for life. Truly a monogamous species.
I sat there beside her; the movie had been finished for a while now. We just sat in silence holding each other. It had been so long since we had last been able to do so. One year? Or maybe it had already been two. The thing is, we both knew that the time didn’t matter anymore, only that we were together now. We had met however long before this, and have loved each other forever since. This love is an unfortunate one though. Since our first and last two months together, it has never exactly been the same.
Courtship varies among the species. It generally begins with both visual and auditory displays. In many species, males display first to establish a nest site and then to attract a mate.
There I was, one member in a circle of people, nearly all of us are strangers to the others. It was only the second day of my third summer at sleep away camp. Here I was being thrown into a group of new people and I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. It was the drama elective; we were here to perform a show, which we would do successfully after a months practice. But first it was introductions, and after a break of several hours we came back and hers was one of the few names that I remembered. Right off the bat we had that connection, the kind one reads about in novels that make girls cry.
There is love of course. And then there's life, its enemy. ~Jean Anouilh
As in every love story, there exists some evil keeping the lovers from being with each other. In ours, this evil is known to most as distance. After leaving camp, we ended up living over forty-five minutes apart. Though now this distance seems so trivial, at our age it was quite an ordeal. Although we still knew we had each other, it became hard to cope with the other’s absence. And it was in this absence that we seemed to grow apart. While years later we still recognize that something exists deep inside, it has become part of a hidden notion.
Most penguin species are monogamous; however, research has shown that some females may have one to three partners in one season and some males may have one or two partners. Mate selection is up to the female, and it is the females that compete for the males.
It has been throughout the years and whatever experience I have had that I have seemed to turn into a sort of cynic. I have forgotten exactly how it feels to be in love with someone. I wonder if it is even a rational thought to be so. We all claim love for others all too often. We claim our love for our family, our friends, and our physical possessions as well. Over the few years I have been given to learn so far, I have gone through varying stages in my own personal use of the word.
Throughout my experiences, I have also learned a bit of another language. In ancient Greek, there are four words, which represent four different types of love, and categorizes them. The first is agape, which represents the bond that love forms between a couple. This bond is one of true emotional love. It is described as a love where one will sacrifice himself for the other. It is like the love for a family member and/or a partner. Agape shows a feeling of affection and general concern for the person.
The second is titled eros, which represents the physical bond and desire between the two members of a couple. This eros is the same feeling that we have come to call lust. One can imagine the cherub, which appears most commonly on Saint Valentines Day. We are shot by an arrow and suddenly attracted to someone. This is lust much more than love. Eros is a feeling of desire rather than necessity.
The third Greek representation of love is philia. A brotherly relationship, one of virtue, familiarity, and equality. This word brings to mind the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia. Finally in the list of Greek words for love is storge, stands for affection, like that felt between family members.
A female usually selects the same male from the preceding season. Adélie penguins have been documented re-pairing with the previous year's mate 62% of the time. Chinstraps re-paired in 82% of possible cases, and gentoos re-paired 90% of the time. In one study of Adélies, females paired with males within minutes of arriving at the colony.
That’s what really gets to me about love and how everyone goes about it. There really isn’t one definition for love. Love is not math. There are no set answers, no explanations for some result, and no set formula to lead to some desired result. Love Is Chaos. Physics: chaos, behavior so unpredictable as to appear random, owing to great sensitivity to small changes in conditions. People have attempted to generalize love. We see movie stars falling in and out of love every day on the television; we grow to think this is normal, the mean, average. We love our friends, our boyfriends, our girlfriends, our family, and our pets. But how often do we feel the difference when we say it anymore. In certain cases, how often do we even say it at all?
You were everything I wanted; you were everything a girl could be; then you left me brokenhearted; now you don't mean a thing to me. All I wanted was your love. ~ “Hate (I really don’t like you)”, Plain White T’s
Thanks to television, pop culture, and peer pressure, I feel like we have completely forgotten what we really want in someone. Even those of us who want to remember how it feels, those of us who would like to know what we are doing, find it hard to do so. Whatever my journey may have been, I now find it quite difficult to identify what I want. I find myself now in college. New people, people who do not know me, surround me. The slate is clean, they can decide whatever they’d like to about me. I think about the relationships I have been in. The relationships that have been successful are brought to memory, followed by those that were not. What worked, what definitely didn’t? I have forgotten. My recent relations with others have turned out to be a bit of chaos as well. It seems that planning never really works out as planned. We need to let life go as it prefers, and if it works out for the best, then we are lucky.
I was never one to patiently pick up broken fragments and glue them together again and tell myself that the mended whole was as good as new. What is broken is broken -- and I'd rather remember it as it was at its best than mend it and see the broken places as long as I lived. ~Margaret Mitchell
The T.V. continues to go on with whatever show or channel we had left on. The VCR switched back to television mode after being stopped for too long. We still sit there, next to each other, not exactly sure what we want to do. Well, actually we know what we want to do. What Eros compels us to do. We think we know better. We think that we will be able to keep a hold ourselves and keep from doing what our brains tell us not to. Several times so far, our eyes have met and we shared that look; yes, the one from that movie that made all the girls cry. But we avoid that which we should not do, we sacrifice ourselves to another awkward silence to try to keep from danger.
But the combination of Eros and Agape are too much. We hold each other and lean in. We kiss. It is a kiss that we know shouldn’t happen, but none-the-less embrace every second of it. It is an embrace where we know it is one of our last. Nothing about the situation was right, except for that moment, everything was.
I hold it true, whate'er befall; I feel it, when I sorrow most; 'Tis better to have loved and lost, Than never to have loved at all. ~Alfred Lord Tennyson “In Memoriam”
Till now. Now she and I are on different terms than we were then. We have ceased thinking about each other in that sense. Now, we are but best friends. Not much has really changed other than that. We still sit and talk, maybe watch a movie. But it is the accumulation of everything that I have experienced that makes me wonder about love. People want it to work out their way, as well as be able to keep it under control. I still don’t feel like anyone is able to claim love, or say what he truly feels it is. We don’t love each other, nor ourselves, nearly as much as we all should. We don’t really know love, or any of its counterparts, otherwise we would all be a lot happier.
Nothing takes the taste out of peanut butter quite like unrequited love. ~Charlie Brown