Editors’ Note: This piece originally appeared in the 2019 Commencement Issue, published on May 20, 2019.

I have spent much of my Yale career looking for love. I have dated dozens of athletes and musicians, scientists and writers, boys and girls. As my friends entered into serious relationships and my own history of failed relationships and flings piled higher and higher, I only searched more fervently.  

However, as graduation draws near, I realize that my desire was misplaced. Sure, a successful long-term relationship would have been nice. But I never needed that to complete me or my life or to show me what true love feels like.

Love is sprawling on the couches in the depths of Bass late at night, half delirious and giggling with friends about how sick you all feel from eating an excessive portion of trail mix. Love is sitting in your friend’s apartment for a Bring Your Own Takeout dinner, while John Legend plays softly in the background and talking about nothing and everything. Love is going to Barracuda with friends for $5 mojitos at 10 p.m. on a Wednesday before dancing the night away with each other at Toad’s, not caring who watches. Love is claiming the circle table in Morse at Sunday brunch and prolonging the meal for as long as possible to avoid all of your responsibilities, while teasing your friend about something stupid she did the night before. Love is sitting on the bed in your friend’s room, clothes strewn haphazardly and snow falling outside the window, as she plays the guitar and you sing an old Taylor Swift song out of tune. Love is walking out of Sterling with a friend to take a 5-minute coffee break at Donut Crazy that turns into an hour long coffee break, and upon returning to the library, looking up from your laptops to share knowing smiles. Love is laying on a hammock in your residential college courtyard with a friend, staring up at the sky while swaying in soothing silence. Love is sitting in physics study hall in 17 Hillhouse and laughing with your friends at the absurdity of your problem set until you can’t breathe.

Love is when you rush desperately into your common room late at night for an impromptu therapy session with suitemates. Love is dropping everything to hold your friend while her body is wracked by sobs too violent for such a gentle person. Love is your friend texting to ask how you are doing and surprising you with a Vanilla Birthday Cake donut in lecture when you have had a tough week. Love is your friends putting up with your idiosyncrasies and neuroses and self-destructive decisions, and giving you a hug and much-needed advice that you should have taken the first time around.

My friends have been the true source of love in my life all along. And as my time at Yale comes to a close, I cannot help but be terrified that soon I won’t be living in such close proximity to them. Because, if I were forced to choose the people in my life out of a lineup of millions, I would choose my best friends each and every time.

This is my love letter to them. This is the thank you — for lifting me up in the midst of tribulations and celebrating with me throughout the triumphs — that I can never say enough. Hopefully, though distances of hundreds or even thousands of miles may separate us in the years to come, we will stay in close touch. Hopefully my kids will call you Aunt or Uncle X, and we will all have semi-annual reunions, and talk on the phone frequently.  Hopefully we will all grow old together and live long, happy, intersecting lives. But, whatever happens in the unknowable future, know that in this moment, I’m truly, madly, deeply in love with you.

Emily Kaplan is a senior in Grace Hopper College. Contact her at emily.kaplan@yale.edu .