I think of love as the lottery for three significant reasons, it can be found in every corner, it isn’t exactly cheap, and it requires some scoring. Some spend their lives buying tickets and never win; others find that winning ticket on their first try, but most of us just keep on playing, hoping for that big prize. And, more often than not, we need to be contented with some modest prizes that make us happy enough – without giving us that feeling of complete ecstasy and bewilderment. You want love? Get out this weekend, get tickets, wish for luck, and score away.

I gotta be honest, I did win the big prize once. I was 18, and that big prize checked so many boxes for me. Back then, I dreamed of oversea adventures, of the kind of love that is getting out of the pages of the romances. I dreamed of a charming prince (preferably tall with a sexy tattoo), who would eventually turn up at the top of a mountain, as a wrong reading of Jane Austen’s novels made me believe. I dreamed of a love so strong it’d make me lie to my mother, pretend to go to a concert in another city, and take full ownership of my winning ticket.

My big prize was all I fantasized about and more. Blue eyes, Irish, Adventurous (on a world tour, Lord help me!), a flirtatious smile. I, who had only kissed one or two boys my entire life, saw myself with that unknown foreign man on a cheap motel. He saw through me, of course. He knew I wanted to sound smart, witty, mature, refined – when I could actually hear the ridiculously loud noises of my stomach and the deep drum beats of my young heart. I laughed nervously when he said, “we don’t have to do this.” What was he thinking? Would I have lied to my parents, got on a bus, and traveled 8 hours to meet a man I had met over the internet six months before if I didn’t want to score that winning ticket?

Now, 15 years later, when I go back to that moment, I realize this story could have played out way differently, in case my winning ticket was actually a big flop. 18-year-old girls should just stay in college, do their homework, and avoid trips to other cities to meet random men they met through the internet. That’s pretty obvious. Get your tickets, but scratch your numbers patiently. Check more than twice if that ticket is indeed a win. Maybe even after knowing you’ve got the prize, you should keep that ticket safe for a couple of days… just to make sure.

Still, that weekend marked my body as his tattoos marked his back and arms, and I knew… I had a winning ticket. It was the first time I had played that seriously, and when you’re that young, life plays tricks on you. For some time, we both thought that weekend was all we would ever have.

But it wasn’t. I turned 21 and went to live in London… and so did he. It was another shot at luck and another win for us. That second wining ticket gave us a 5-year transnational relationship filled with laughter and tears (but mostly tears); arrivals and departures (but mostly departures); hellos and goodbyes (but mostly goodbyes). It was a stormy summer day when we decided the ticket had lost its value. A day of intense summer rain that comes and goes within minutes; Loud summer rains that rehearse the stiffness and briefness of passion, of love, and of life. And quick as that rain, it was all over.

I guess now at 33, I’d be contented with a much smaller prize. Without the awe of finding all the winning numbers at once, I’d patiently scratch my ticket, waiting months, years to see if that was indeed a win. And if it turned out to be just another ticket, so be it. That’s life, after all. You can choose whom you’ll marry, but you can’t decide whom you’ll fall in love with (and rarely is the same person). Guess it’s not that late… Gotta go out and play the lottery again.