What is Between Like and Love?
BY BRITTANY KALDIS
I have Scrabble pieces in my hand, two “E’s,” two “L’s,” an “I,” a “K,” an “O” and a “V.” I place them in a Yahtzee cup, because why not! I scramble the Scrabble pieces relishing the Clink, Clank, Clunk, Click, Clank, Clunk from the pieces clashing against themselves and the plastic. I let them scatter across the table. I can feel eyes on me from around the room from the obnoxious noise. Serves me right to mess with Scrabble pieces in a quiet moment between classes. Anyway, I refocus my attention on the two clusters of letters. I get “like” and “love.” I look up. The person in front of me is reading Between by Jessica Warman. Rusty gears in my head start turning as if an oil - no, a motor is propelling them into motion.
What is between like and love?
I put the letters back in the Yahtzee cup, shake and pour the letters across the table again. I feel burning glares from the chaos I am making, but I don’t care. The first cluster of letters is “live.” That makes sense; I like to live in a life filled with love. The next cluster of letters is more intriguing: “loke.” Is this a word? I don’t think so. I look around the room; is there a dictionary? But this is a common room, only chairs and tables, no bookshelves, or books. Oh, there’s one in my pocket. Duh, I knew that. Dictionary.com: did you mean “like”? (loke), the phone asks. No, I did not mean “like,” I just want a word for the feeling between like and love.
There is a gap there - or is it a void? There is too much gray between black and white and there is no other way to get from one to the other except through the gray. The gray is often overlooked because when noticed, no one can pinpoint it. Is that because there is no word? Could “loke” be the word? It has potential.
Loke sounds weird at first, but it is growing on me. It sounds like something else as well, what is it? Soke? No, is it even a word? Well I can’t worry about that right now I can only invent one word per day.
As in speech? No.
As in a wheel?
One of the first human inventions, it is humble, quiet, and always in motion; never sitting still, just like anyone’s given universe is moving around the axle of their life. A wheel consists of three parts: the rim, the spoke, and the hub, just like how the force on a wheel is distributed from the outside in and the inside out. People in my emotional wheel can travel from the rim (like), to the spoke (loke), to the hub (love). People can travel in either direction as long as they pass through the spoke to get from the hub to the rim, or the rim to the hub.
You wave to a stranger, high five an acquaintance, shake hands with a colleague, make weird and outrageous secret handshakes with your friends; then suddenly, you embrace your loved ones. When do you make the leap of faith to embrace someone in your heart instead of using that secret handshake you worked so hard to perfect? Is there a physical gesture that coincides?
During the first two weeks of my relationship with my boyfriend, he said the three-word phrase: “I love you.” I was shocked, I don’t know why; boyfriends say that to their girlfriends. I responded without thinking, “Don’t you think it’s a bit early to say that?” Then it was his turn to be shocked. I reminded him that we had only been dating for two weeks at that time, which made him feel better.
I take out my phone and ask Google for “the word between like and love.” In 0.6 seconds it throws 254,000,000 results at me. I skim the first few results. The first one from Stack Exchange talks about “puppy love.” I decide to look at the preview for the second result, and the title is something about a Tim Bass contemplating the same question as I am. The first words in the preview are intriguing, but a spoiler - he declared that there is no such word that falls in the gap of the of these feelings. “Combine like and love, and you get ‘live,’ which is taken, and ‘loke,’ which sounds stupid.” (Bass). He is throwing away the word because it sounds stupid? Was he playing with Scrabble pieces, too? Is that how he found the word? Before I put my phone back in my pocket I rearrange my raw thoughts from my findings and pour everything into a single text to my boyfriend. I press Send.
Humans find it important to categorize and sequence everything. What if the path from liking someone and loving someone is a fluid motion? Two glasses of water, one with red dye, the other with blue: if one is poured into the other you start with blue and red water in the same cup, but you end with purple. When is the fluid 25% red, 25% blue, and 50% purple? What if it is never that? There is a gradient in red and purple that involves all shades of violet. There is a gradient in blue and purple that involves all shades of indigo. There are infinite purples on the red side with the violets, and infinite purples on the blue side with the indigos. With the two infinities of purple, how can you possibly have such a nice ratio as 25/25/50?
This is the process that we go through to get from like to love. This is the undefinable, unknowable void. Can it go the other way? From purple to red or blue? Can’t people fall out of love with each other? There is no way to get rid of purple once it is there but you can get infinitely close to red or blue from it. This can be done by having a glass half full of purple and adding one of the other colors, creating an imbalance until there is barely any purple visible. No matter how red or blue you are if you were once a shade of purple it will never leave you. Every person that has ever liked someone, loked someone, or loved someone will always carry a piece of that person with them forever. With the fluidity of this feeling, is it fitting that I found the word by treating letters as if the Scrabble pieces were a liquid within the Yahtzee cup and poured them on across the table?
Zuzz Zuzz Zuzz. It is the response to the thoughts I sent to my boyfriend. He said “I liked the term loke and thought it was a useful word. I had also felt bad that you didn’t like me saying love, so I was glad you found a solution” (Weldon).
A solution. This is what I did. I found myself in an inconceivable place and I tried to make sense of it. I tried to make sense of it with solid objects but that didn’t quite get me to be able to define this feeling. However, it did give me something to help categorize the feeling. I moved to fluid objects to illustrate that there is no sequence to this emotion because in a sense, it is a cluster of emotions that everyone feels differently about it. Everyone has their own shade of infinity that is unique to them. The word loke is a category for all possible combinations of emotions that create a unique shade between liking someone and loving someone.