First Comes Love…

“I thought I knew what love was. What did I know?” ~Don Henley

01_Robert-Indiana_LoveI first told a girl I loved her in 4th grade, when she stabbed me with a pencil and decided to go out with my enemy. These three things were unrelated. Or at least I think they were. I never really asked her to explain. I was too busy drowning in my tears, in the relative safety of my room, trying to forget her. Trying to forget love.

Love means many different things to many different people, but to me it means being always appreciative. That girl who I said I loved, she didn’t appreciate my love. To her I might as well have told her I was an albino for all she cared, but it was 4th grade, and I gave her a mulligan for it. She never came back to take me up on the idea of a second chance, which was just as well.

To me, when you love someone you show it. Not by flowers and candy, because anyone can get flowers and candy, but by being there, by letting them know you’re there, whether they admit to needing you there. Love means coming through for someone else even if they don’t realize that’s what they needed. It’s doing the little things because there really are no little things when it comes to love.

I’ve learned that love needs to be patient…

I realize now that I didn’t really love that girl in 4th grade. It was never really love because I had no idea what love was back then. What I felt for her was sheer infatuation, that kind of Romeo and Juliet feeling that would have petered out had they not been in a volatile situation that pushed them toward each other… and toward the abyss. That girl was lucky she didn’t reciprocate my infatuation because I’ve always been prone to exaggeration of emotion. Thank god she looked the other way.

But I’ve learned a lot over the years, because of heartache and a plethora of other issues and mistakes, on both sides. I’ve learned that love needs to be patient, that it isn’t about the physical, that the physical comes along for the ride when it is indeed requited, that it’s better to have loved and lost than… well, not quite. It’s better to love and keep loving, because love can shift. It can change, not precisely with the wind but sometimes it is buffeted. I’ve learned that love is complicit, if just because it makes you more vulnerable than anything else ever could.

Love is revolutionary, no matter how often it occurs…

I’ve been sparing with the word itself. Even with my closest of friends it took a while before I felt comfortable enough telling them how I felt. Even with my closest of relationships I haven’t been the first one to say it, not usually, not because I’ve been afraid but because I’ve been resistant. I’ve been resistant to the way saying those words changes things. It doesn’t change things for me. I already know how I feel long before those words escape my lips. But it changes the relationship in subtle ways that only I can tell.

Or maybe they can tell too. Love is revolutionary, no matter how often it occurs, no matter how many people know the feeling. It acts. It doesn’t react. But love is worth it, even when it’s not returned, because without that feeling life is just not as good. And I don’t mean the romantic love. I mean all the many forms of love that can shift and change, that can undulate around you like a snake, but that can keep you safe and warm, secure in its comfort.

But what do I know?



Baby, Don’t Hurt Me…

Love-Is“What is love? Baby, don’t hurt me. Don’t hurt me no more.” ~Haddaway

We are all fragile when it comes to love, an emotion so intense it can lay the highest low, and change the course of the world. It’s love that frightens more people from day to day than just about anything else, because it’s love that has the propensity to hurt the most. From unrequited love, to lost love, to just the daily growing pains of love as it develops, it’s the one emotion that causes the most dismay, and makes us shed the most tears.

Love is magical. It draws people together who may be entirely different except for sharing that one peculiar emotion. It can slide effortlessly between class lines and unite those who previously seemed to have no connections with anyone else. But love can also make people hate themselves, or hate others, in its circuitous process. Because we can’t really choose who we love. Love takes that control away from us and leaves us out on the ocean without a paddle. We can only hope that it creates waves to bring us back to land eventually.

We all have stories of how love was cruel, of how it was ironically bitter when we needed it to be sweet. Sometimes love leaves us wilting in the sun, vulnerable to anything and everything because it requires every ounce of our souls, love-city-imageevery fiber of our beings. We long for love so much that we often see it in shadows of other emotions when it’s not really there. We complain about it when it’s not around, but we also take it for granted when we have it.

The idea of love is mythical, but the reality is that love takes hard work and commitment in order to take root and flourish. Love is more than the sum of its parts, but it needs that parts in order to operate. Love is butterfly kisses and summer days, but it’s also holding back hair when we’re sick. It’s weathering the storm of life together instead of drifting apart. It’s forgiveness and understanding. It’s everything and nothing like it’s portrayed through the media, but also everything and nothing like we see it in others.

Because love is personal. It breaks us down and lifts us up, but it’s one-on-one. Love is what we make of it. It adjusts itself according to our own understanding of it. It reflects our own neuroses and our own affections so we can see them up close and in living color. Love means being vulnerable, opening ourselves up to a feeling that is so much bigger than ourselves, and letting it breathe.


The Definition of Grief

Grief is visceral. It rips and tears at you from the inside, desperate to claw its way out. If you don’t keep a tight lid on it you could go insane focusing on it and nothing else. It can lead to a soul wrenching depression that threatens to shove you down and leave you for dead. But grief exists naturally in this world for a reason and a purpose. It reminds us that we are still alive, that no matter how horrible this life can be we do make connections that give us some relief, and some release. Grief is a universal truth that resists denial like the plague. It has to assuaged or it festers, am open sore that oozes out pain and anger. So much anger. It makes us lash out at others and at ourselves because it proves us as helpless as babies in the face of fate.

Grief is the best and worst of life tied up and twisted together until you can’t tell which one you’re left with. And when you think it’s over there is always another chance to indulge yourself in it. Because for better or for worse, that’s grief.


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