Sweet Talk

1 - Marianna _ Amyna

To celebrate Valentine’s this February, our team wanted to know what love looks and feels like, as it’s never the same for one person. So, we sought your voices and listened to your stories of romance, friendship, family, and the inner self. It has all come together in a ballad we call “Sweet Talk.”

Sweet Talk” is a lens-based project using anonymous responses. Every person featured in the project volunteered to welcome us into their space and shared their vulnerability.

Name someone you love.

Michael Sitoa Chris Andreas Kristin Brian

Vannah Diamond Yongjin Lola Kath Willie

MJ Marianna Kellie Henry J Inara

Marshay Greg Sean Asher Amyna Connor

Margaret Corey Julia Dad Dustin Bailey

Zahra Wesley Elan Owen K.B Shayne

Yasmine Tara Liam Susan Ash Max


What does love feel like?

I think love feels like two things: a choice and the sea. A choice because every day, you are choosing to love this person an unconditional amount all of the time. It is easy to feel in love, say, on your first date, at a wedding (I would assume on your wedding), upon achieving goals, when you’re lying in bed together after a long day, etc… It is comfort and grace that person brings to you. You’re experiencing this real unexplainable beauty. However, it is harder to feel in love when your partner is angry at you, when there is distance, when at a funeral, when they’re struggling with their mental health, projecting, or they got laid off from their job and are now unemployed needing money or some scenario like that. So, thinking of all those things, love is a choice, a promise you make to maintain that love you have for them even if you don’t feel like being around them. Love feels like the sea to me because I don’t think I have grasped the concept in my life yet. Thinking of this literally, the coming and going of love is the instability of my own insecurities. “Love is the sea where intellect drowns.” This quote from Rumi, a Persian poet, contains so much beauty and truly reflects what I believe love feels like. Running after each other in the living room, jumping into a long-distance relationship after a month of meeting, the realization that your alone time is cherished and respected, but the time you’re together is longed for, this visceral yearning for one another.

Oftentimes, love feels like something all-consuming, something that wraps you up in a warm blanket and engulfs your senses so that the only thing you can think of is the feeling. There are times when love feels soft though barely noticeable but always there in the back of your mind. It feels like writing with a smooth pen or completing a puzzle, a small satisfactory moment in your life that you may not remember.

Love is refreshing. It washes over you without warning, flushing your cheeks and flooding your heart. It encompasses all other emotions, for you feel bliss when basking in it, fear for losing it and elation when consumed by it. Love can be indescribable, yet every emotion there defines it perfectly. It’s unique, euphoric and one of the few experiences that makes life worth living.

Love feels like stillness, a leap for trust and a way to make your world more beautiful. When you fall in love with someone, you create a world together where you share parts of yourselves to make something great. You can’t predict where it’s going but it feels so good to enjoy the moment in time that you share that world together.

Love, to me, feels like learning. The adrenaline when you first try, the satisfaction when you succeed and the pride when you show someone your new skills. As time goes on, you continue to gain more skills from observing and critiquing techniques you may have performed when first learning. Love feels like discovery and enlightenment.

I searched for the word love in my notes app and this is the title for every entry I wrote about love. Love is: movies, melancholy, flowers, dragging my feet, noticing, a little bit later, moral compass, platonic intimacy, farewells, hellos, moving on, living forth, blue, a thinking corner, red and a language.

Love feels like the sun beaming down on your back on the first few days of spring. It feels like daffodils and dandelions sprouting out of the earth, blessing your eyes with bright pops of yellow. Love feels like comfort, like everything is going to be okay no matter what’s going on in your life.

It [Love] feels refreshing. It feels like the barriers have been torn down. It feels like you can never be physically close enough to the person you love. It feels like all the weight and tightness in my chest disappears, and all the holes and cracks in my heart have been mended.

Love feels like the roots of a growing plant deepening and strengthening. Though it’s not perfect and can be challenging at times, it’s worth maintaining when it’s right. Meaningful love will cherish you, support you and surprise you.

I don’t know if it’s love necessarily, because I’m not sure if I’m capable of that. I don’t know why, but I think of him all the time. I picture him when I listen to my favorite songs and feel his hands on my waist even when they’re not.

Love feels like 1 Corinthians 13:4. It’s patient, kind, it doesn’t envy and it doesn’t boast. It is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered and it keeps no record of wrongs.

Love feels so peaceful, warm and understanding. It feels like a lasting exhale of letting go of all the unhappiness or stress that may be built up inside and feeling like you can just exist as you are.

It feels safe and happy. It’s a sense of home in the pit of your stomach. It’s fiery, strong, long-lasting and overwhelming in the best way.

Like she’s the back of my hand. Like no matter where I am or what I’m doing, I have her unconditional support. Like we don’t need words to communicate.

Love feels like when you’re done taking a hot shower and then getting into clean, fresh bed sheets and there’s no work or school the next day.

Like when the sun hits your face for the first time in the morning, the birds are chirping and the world is extra bright and beautiful.

Love feels like a hug, a reassuring voice in your ear and clean sheets wrapped around your body on a sunny Saturday morning.

Listening to a song you didn’t remember existed and knowing the nostalgia of that comfort is a reality now.

Never wanting to see an ounce of pain or hurt come their way because they deserve all the good in the world.

Longing. You miss that person and who they are when they aren’t around. Other people don’t fill that gap.

Love, to me, feels like belonging. If a person can make me feel like I belong, then I truly feel loved.

Knowing that there’s someone that understands me even better than I understand myself.

Love feels like a crushing tsunami wave that, no matter what, will not let me drown…

It’s only the two of us awake during a quiet night when it’s just me and her.

Love feels like sitting down and relaxing after walking around for a while.

Like a heavy blanket on a cold day and a light blanket on a warm day.

Knowing someone went out of their way for you, not for gain but because they just care.

The satisfaction of eating the meal you’ve been craving.

Like my heart is going to explode out of my chest.

Being wrapped in a blanket fresh from the dryer.

Love feels like a never-ending hug.

A house with all the windows open.

Fingers running through your hair.

My heart swelling in my chest.

Hot soup on a cold day.

Appreciation. patience.

Lonely but comfortable.

The sun and the moon.

Security. Freedom.

Warm yellow light.


No idea.


Describe a quality or form of intimacy.

Seeing active growth balanced on both sides of a relationship together and individually. The Exchange of sentimental words and thoughts and being able to share them. The kind of “fuck it” attitude of “I love you” and “let’s go!” There is so much to life and the world to experience alone, but also together. Finding intimacy with yourself is much more important than spreading yourself thin and sharing what you actually need to keep. First, you have to find that for yourself, otherwise, I think what you desire won’t be reachable.

One quality of intimacy is the ability to relax. Flaws are understood and self-criticisms when you’re with that person just melt away. With most people I interact with, I feel like I’m walking on eggshells to keep myself in check in order to seem perfect. When I’m with the people I love, I can be who I am without being afraid of being called annoying or frustrating. I can relax. I don’t have to overthink. They understand me fully.

They warm your skin with their presence, while their absence brings the cold. They steal the tangled thoughts from your mind that had been ruling when you were alone. Not one word needs to be said, as their time devotion is enough, for our time is limited, and it’s better spent on those we love.

Some kind of closeness, one that’s so pure. A casual brush of shoulders or playing with figures just to feel the person who is next to you, just to ground you and remind you that they are there, present, real and human. The grounding feeling of a thumb stroking the back of your knuckles.

When someone does the equivalent of putting their jacket over a puddle for you to walk over the puddle without getting wet. For example, when smoking together, Diamond warms the beanie that she’s wearing and puts it on my head to keep me warm because I always forget to wear one.

Finishing each other’s sentences, and on the contrary, having the other people provide an idea that you may have never considered and getting a glimpse at their inner dialogue.

Cuddling when the sun is up and drifting into a nap together creates a sense that you and your partner are the only people in the world. Time feels blissfully frozen.

Sitting in silence after a movie has just ended, knowing you are both reeling with thoughts and emotions about the story that has just unfolded before the two of you.

Knowing that no matter how long it’s been since we’ve been able to see or talk to each other, when it really matters, they always make time to be there for me.

Attention. Nothing feels better than showing someone your world and the things you love and them really seeing you and enjoying it all with you.

Going grocery shopping together with no list, just walking through every aisle and taking our time to pick things out, laughing the whole time.

Having time pass slowly yet quickly,seeing the sun rise and set after talking for so long, both of us eager to share more stories.

Casual awareness. It’s instinct, not necessarily intentional. Always in the pursuit of cultivating your own design of peace.

“I had one more buck on my plate. It was me and bro, we was in the sto. Both us got 50 cent cake.” – Rondonumbanine.

Sharing moments of laughter, the kind where you’re laughing so hard, no sound is coming out.

Being in the same room together and not sharing a word, yet knowing that each other’s presence is enough.

Choosing to spend my last final moments at home with you before I moved 7 hours away.

Sitting by the fire with you and listening to the stories of yours I’ve never heard.

Making time for one another despite the busy schedules and everyday noise.

Raw honesty, a pause in a busy day to say hi, a kiss that’s unexpected.

Being present in each moment without concern for anything else.

Lack of touch. Positives are self-care and mental stability.

Small, comforting physical touch when we’re among others.

Being enveloped with love first thing in the morning.

The way you are spoken about when you’re not around.

Holding and touching each other with such gentleness.

Quality time and those unstoppable giggles you get.

Listening to/appreciating/creating music together.

Reading their eyes without a need for words.

Everyone stares because we match so well.

Feeling so comfortable around someone.

Making dinner for each other together.

Sincere undivided attention.

When they give me a back rub.

Making sure I’m not hungry.

Patience and understanding.

They are your safe space.

Makes food that heals.

Having your hand held.

Safety to be yourself.

Sex with eye contact.

Time doesn’t matter.

A shared language.


Creative Direction: Melati Maupin
Photography: Melati Maupin, Kobi McCray, and Elliot Crotteau
Videography: Elliot Crotteau
Production Assistance: Melati Maupin, Kobi McCray, and Elliot Crotteau
Photo Text Editing: John Gregory
Copy Editing: Andrew Kerley
Thank you to our volunteers: Marianna & Amyna, Jayden & Zach, Kiera & Tina, and Piero