Looking for Love
“Hate is stronger than love.” I said it with spite, the car ride was taking too long. I was worried about my tests and at that point all of the bad feelings inside were becoming too much and I needed to say it in order to let them go. I almost believed the words, but not really.
“That’s not true,” my grandma said with a conviction that only served to rile me up further.
“It is!” I insisted, throwing myself back in my seat. “With all the things I’ve seen, I know it is.” I said it with all the weight of my seventeen years. In my efforts to convince her, I’d talked myself into it.
“Well, with all that I’ve seen, I can tell you it isn’t,” my grandma said and hers had the weight of some 240 seasons past mine behind. She rubbed the front of her vest with her fingers. It doesn’t make sense to have coat sleeves if it’s not below forty, she’d mentioned before. I didn’t agree. For me, it was always full-coat weather or no-coat weather. “Love is the strongest thing of all, you must know that.” My grandma had twisted in her seat to look at me with anxious eyes. My dad, who had been driving silently, nodded.
“How can you know?” I asked, not without a certain amount of hopelessness, having really gotten into it now. Across the news I saw school shootings and fences and domestic violence. I did not see love. I saw the divide between the rich and poor and black and white and brown. I did not see love. My grandma was silent for a moment, which was distinctly uncharacteristic of her. Finally, she turned to look forward out the window shield.
“There’s a boy in fourth grade in Florida, who couldn’t afford a University of Tennessee jersey for college color day at his school. He took an orange T-shirt, instead, and drew out a logo on an 8x10 piece of printer paper. He safety-pinned it to the shirt and he wore it to school. He was very excited to be able to participate and very proud of his design. Until a group of girls from another grade saw him at lunch and teased him about the quality of his shirt, so much so that he went back to his classroom and cried at his desk. His teacher asked him about it and then posted it to the internet in a bid for support, which is how I know of it. The University of Tennessee also heard, and that boy’s design went officially on sale, blazed out in white on orange shirts at the campus gift shop. Thousands of strangers wrote letters of support, and put in orders for these shirts, and the boy was even offered a scholarship to the University of Tennessee in 2028. All of the proceeds from the sales are going to anti-bullying campaigns. People are kind and love is stronger, you just have to be ready to look for love instead of hate. Afterall, you’re likely to find what you’re looking for.” My grandma finished and patted me on the thigh before turning back around in her seat.
“You still can’t know it for sure,” I said it for the consistency, because I’d been such a poor sport earlier. This time, however, I didn’t believe myself quite so much.