There are certain days in your life that will forever stick out in your memories. It’s not about what you did, but how you felt. It’s simply human nature to want to be wanted. I now know this amazing feeling thanks to a very special little girl, and I will never settle for less in my future relationships.

My junior year in high school was hands-down the worst year of my life. I had been really sick and really didn’t have a lot of faith in anything or anyone at all, especially not myself. I didn’t see a light at the end of the tunnel. After a year full of “I just need to get through today,” I spent a month in Madrid, Spain, visiting with my family to get away from it all.

We took our long flight from Chicago to Madrid, arriving on a Sunday afternoon, the day before my birthday in June. As tired as I was, I was thrilled at the fact that my family had planned a small birthday party for me and we would be celebrating all together that evening. My grandmother’s third floor terrace is where a huge collection of my childhood memories reside. I love it there.

My numerous family members began to trickle in, hugging and congratulating me on making it to 17, and welcoming my mom back home. I come from a culture and a family of kissers; it isn’t a family gathering if you don’t have a few different shades of lipstick on your cheeks.

Once again, the doorbell rang and I went to go answer it. I heard nothing but a jumble of kids speaking, so I pressed the button to unlock the door for them to come in and climb up the stairs.

I absolutely love little kids. I have a blast with them, and they never fail to make me laugh. I love hanging out with my baby cousins, but I often fear that since they’re so young and I only go to Spain once a year, they’ll forget me.

Once the door was open, I heard the stampede of tiny footsteps begin to tap their way towards the third floor. Promptly, at the final curve of the landing, I saw my cousin Lola holding onto the railing, moving up, step by step, very carefully. Her four year old body was so tiny that she easily could’ve fallen through the railing slats, so her focus was intensely on not doing so.

When she was three steps away, she finally looked up. Her eyes met mine as I said, “hola, mi Loli.” In that moment, her eyes lit up and her face completely brightened. She smiled as she said my name, ran up the last three steps, and ran straight into my arms.

This embrace meant the world to me. It was as if a full year of pain and feelings of unworthiness was immediately erased. I felt wanted and waited for and missed. It was so heartwarming to think I had enough of an impact on a three year old girl the last time that I visited her, that a year later she would remember me, let alone be so excited to see me. It was a little moment, but it meant the world to me.

For the rest of that night, she wouldn’t let go of me. We made a few trips to the kitchen and laps around the terrace, obligatorily holding hands, of course, and neither of us stopped smiling. She kept on telling me how much she loved me and how much she liked that I was there. I will keep this memory fondly in my heart for ever.

This all got me to thinking, though. A small child, without a vast comprehension of the world yet, is capable of producing such intense and loving feelings. Shouldn’t adults who have seen more and done more also be able to love this way? In my humble opinion, the answer is yes. I had been settling for people in my life who did not show me the kind of love that I deserved: one that was pure, without any strings attached. Obviously familial love is different, but the basic idea is that hearing the words “I love you” should be something that evokes overwhelming feelings of love, and body language and actions should be demonstrative of this.

While this can be viewed as a stretch, I took it to heart. I believe that everybody is born with the capability to love, be kind, and make others feel wanted. Hearing the words “I love you” has become such a more meaningful thing to me, and I try to not toss them around as much without truly meaning them with everything that I have and am.

Let me leave you with this thought. Everyone wants to be wanted, but we should all want to be wanted by someone who wants to be wanted by us too, simply because they love us, not solely because they want to be wanted by someone. Have fun picking that one apart.

Thank you Lola, for making me feel wanted.


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