The ten year old self saw two adults laughing hysterically over a joke. It mistook it to be love. Romantic. Passionate.
The young teen saw two classmates walking hand in hand, without a care in the world. Mistook that to be love too. Conceded that it could also be infatuation.
The twenty year old self saw two colleagues flirting in the parking lot. This had to be love, it rationalized.
Years later, after a few broken hearts strewn along the way, the self slowly embraced the truth. That love was not the furtive flirting, candle-lit dinners or presents wrapped in red. It was the quiet acceptance of the imperfect.