When I think about love, I picture the famous kissing scene from The Notebook; I picture Rose’s voice cracking as she realizes Jack is dead and let him go; I picture Tasha and Alice kissing as Tasha has quit the military to be with the one she loves; I picture love being a grand gesture that people all recognize and be in awe over. Because I picture love on such a large scale, I am guilty of looking past the smaller things. I will admit, I have gotten better, but Before the Rain by Lusita Lopez Torregrosa has officially opened my eyes to what intimacy is.
In 226 pages, Torregrosa captures seven years of her relationship followed by numerous years after. And in these 226 pages, I felt love, sadness, heart ache, longing, a smile across my lips, a sense of belonging, the sun on my face, the depression, the fights, the light hand touches and arms brushing up against each other. I’m torn to describe this memoir as detailed or simplistic. Though there is such a long timeline, it never feels like you miss anything in her relationship and at the same time what she describes are detailed enough that you don’t need anything to be spelt out. She wrote with such elegance and intimacy that I felt like I was an intruder to her relationship.
As a queer person, I can relate to Elizabeth and her fear of falling for someone you never thought you would fall for. Questioning everything you thought you knew about yourself over the love you feel towards another human being is intense, hard and rewarding. Throughout the chapters of their relationship, you can sense how both characters are changing and growing within themselves, but how their relationship doesn’t necessarily follow that same change. Elizabeth slowly sheds her hard exterior shell and puts all she has into the relationship while Torregrosa never loses her intense love for Elizabeth, but the exhausting career of being a writer wears her down and creates tension between them.
This memoir is one I will remember and think about for quite some time. It gives love hope and it gives love truth. Love is never easy and it sometimes doesn’t work out. Relationships take work; love is one part of a relationship, but there are so many more qualities. This memoir, for me, shows that if you have a love so intense that you feel it in your soul, it is possible that love does conquer all. But it also shows a side of love that isn’t always portrayed; that when you have a love so intense, it can sometimes take up too much space for other crucial parts needed in a relationship. As Elizabeth tells Torregrosa, “It’s something dreadful and brilliant.”