Memoir: The test of love, December 2013

I am standing next to my girlfriend, wrapping my arms around her shoulder and pulling her towards myself. Her left shoulder touches my diaphragm, her head rests on my right cheek. We are in our sleeping clothes, looking at the camera and smiling drowsily. In front of us is a small, plastic Christmas tree with gifts sitting around it. Beside us is an empty metal mantelpiece with a chimney going up to the roof. In the wall mirror, the image of the chimney and a vase of pink flowers atop a dark brown wardrobe can be seen. I bought her the flowers the day before.

It’s the morning of 25 December 2013 and we’re in a cottage together with four friends. We arrived two days ago, spent the first day in a spa, and the second day skiing cross-country for the first time in our lives. For this third and final day of our trip, she came up with this brilliant idea of giving secret Christmas gifts to our friends. After skiing, on the way back to the cottage, the two of us went to a department store and bought and wrapped six gifts, then went back and made some excuses for our delay. Later in the evening, when everyone was watching TV, I smuggled the gifts inside a shopping bag into our room. I woke up early this morning, set up the tree and laid the gifts. Our friends woke up, exhilarated by the scenery, and took this photo of us.

This is a manifestation of genuine love. I have always believed that unlike money, which finishes if you spend it, spending your love for someone doesn’t dry your well; quite the opposite, it overflows your soul and generates more love inside you for that person and others. I have this criterion for testing the health of a relationship: if loving someone more leads to loving others less, then perhaps there’s something wrong with it.

On that morning, we passed the test. I was charmed that our love is so abundant that we can’t help sharing it with our friends. It was one of the brightest days of my life.

A freelance journalist and a Google DeepMind AI researcher, an Iranian-Canadian living in Montreal with a journalism degree from Concordia University.