When I was younger, my best friend and I would beg my mom to play The Dixie Chicks’ Home album in the car, just to hear “Travelin’ Soldier”. We sat in the backseat, belting out the lyrics of a love story that traversed an entire litany of emotions in a mere 5 minutes and 43 seconds. The song felt like the embodiment of lyrical and storytelling genius. We were simply obsessed.
My obsession with a good love story has yet to fade. Love moves us, inspires us, instructs and teaches us. Love reminds us that caring for someone, anyone, involves conscious effort and work. For me, love means being able to sit in a car on a long drive together without talking—not because of an awkward vacant silence, but because of the implicit understanding that when you truly trust someone, you don’t have to worry about filling space, because it’s never empty in the first place.
In this issue, here at Iris we honor the way we love what we love, including love itself. Caroline Bohra weaves a vibrant story through her poem on the color red. Cady Rombach breaks down the language of love, and shares some beautiful new (or perhaps familiar) phrases that express our emotions. Mackenzie Williams confesses her obsessive secret: biblophilia! Two freelance pieces grace our pages this issue, also. Joelle Miller writes a tender letter to "the person who is depressed but still longs to be loved"; and Myka Gayles-Greene smashes (quite violently—reader, beware and be ready) patriarchal notions of “pretty girly things.”
The best part about the emotion of “Travelin’ Soldier” wasn’t confined to the story of the song—it was the fact that I shared the love for the song with someone I loved, at a time in my life when I knew nothing but love. It was the knowledge that every time, during the particularly heartbreaking and tragic final verse of the song, we would look at each other and suddenly switch from our melancholy performances to laughter as we said “piccolo” as fast as physically possible, giggling with a silly recognition of affectionate familiarity.
And the best part about the Iris Love Edition isn’t that we get to celebrate love, it’s that we get to celebrate love, in all its forms, alongside people with whom we share a meaningful and honest connection. This Valentine’s Day, I am grateful to have the opportunity to do just that.