About Love

IMG_7622A while ago, Sue had an epiphany about me.

“Love will never find you while you’re on this dating quest,” she emphatically stated.

“I know,” I emphatically agreed.

We were both drinking wine.

***

I’m officiating a wedding this weekend for a friend I’ve known since we were nineteen. She calls me the High Priestess and wants me to wear butterflies in my hair. She wants me to talk about love.

It’s a huge topic. At once simple and elegant. Unavoidable, yet hard to find. It’s bigger than all of us, but within us all. A magic trick. Fairy dust. A winking glamour who hovers in corners, saucy enough to tease us with her smile, blithe enough to appear when we least expect her, and when we need her most.

Love has a close cousin Romance, who is well-meaning, though very competitive. She likes sports and though she says she’s a team player, she wants to be the star. She flits her blonde hair and struts about, masquerading as her revered relative. She lacks subtlety, though, and walks around with a two-by-four whacking unsuspecting victims upside the head until they mistake dizziness for passion and blame their lack of balance on the earth moving beneath their feet.

I’m not going to say that at the wedding.

To be completely honest, I don’t know what I’m going to say.

I’ve been feeling very… odd, lately. Like I’ve been sucked through a few different portals at the same time and am simultaneously lounging on a future beach in Sinai watching the moon rise over the Red Sea, while sitting in the childhood living room of an author I just met, as I’m walking into a screen door, drunk, at a party in Santa Cruz just shy of my nineteenth birthday and I’m writing at my desk, drinking green tea and wondering what my dog is up to in the other room.

Now I’m moving into my apartment. Now I’m leaving my husband. Now I’m marrying my husband. Now stepping off the train in New York. Now selling jewelry on Telegraph Avenue. Now going to classes at Bryn Mawr. And now, sitting at the koi pond already wondering what I’m doing with my life.

I don’t understand how I can be at all these places at once, especially since I’ve never been to two of them. I’m sucked forward and back through the portals of time, anchored only by the heat from my mug and the clacking of computer keys.

***

Anastasia and I have an unceremonious start when she bursts into the dorm room at Santa Cruz while I’m sleeping, and announces that she is my roommate. She’s in love with a guy who’s bad news. I’m afraid I’ll never know what love is. I’m not sure I want to know. It is my belief at the time that love makes people weak.

Two summers later, stranded in Berkeley when my life plans fall through, I’m in the midst of a dramatic love triangle, living in the garage of a house with a boyfriend who neglects to tell me that his girlfriend from a previous summer is moving to California to be with him. He punches the wall by my face in frustration when I ask what’s wrong, accuses me of not being true, and won’t talk to me for days, even though we live in the same room. He swears he loves me more than anyone he’s ever known.

If this is love, I want no part of it. I pack my belongings into a garbage bag and walk down the hill. His other girlfriend arrives two days later and takes my place at the house.

The next time I try to love it’s with caution, trepidation, and fear. By the time I’m twenty-four, I think I’m done. But that’s the thing about Love and Romance, I surmise. Romance does the dirty work, jumps you in the alley with her two-by-four. While you’re still woozy, Love sneaks into your heart.

Anastasia and I waltz slowly through our lives, me, mostly on the east coast, her, west. With each relationship, I study the floor plans, the blueprints, mark the emergency exits and figure out how to end it before it even begins.

My husband and I never buy furniture for our new home. Not even a bed. We sleep on a mattress on the floor, left behind by the previous tenant. The escape route is simple. The front door.

Anastasia, on the other hand, embraces love like she embraces life, with joy, courage, passion, and hope. She’s not afraid of entanglements or making a mess. The harder things get, the more she laughs.

One fateful night, sometime between midnight and two, I see my heart outside my body, pierced at every angle with shards of glass. I know I did it to myself, and so I start the painful, gory task of removing the shards one by one so that my heart can heal.

It is then that I understand that Romance is a bully, disguised as a cheerleader, taunting innocent people at every turn. Making promises she can’t keep. And laughing as she runs away.

And I think, if I can stand up Romance, maybe Love will find her way back to me.

And she does.

***

If I had had one less glass of wine with Sue, or maybe one more, I might’ve tried to explain to her that, albeit bruised and battered, love has found me.

I saw her this week while sitting on the stoop, talking about Egypt. And then I took her for a walk with my dog. I sat knee to knee with her on my friend’s sofa. And now we’re sharing a cup green tea with that good local honey.

This has gotten a lot cornier than I intended. And I don’t mean to offend the bitterest among you. I’m just trying to figure out what to say at my friend’s wedding when she tells this guy on front of everyone that she wants to grow old with him, and he says the same thing to her.

I have a friend who is six-foot eight. He once described his relationship with his future wife like this: he said that they kept their love sacred and quiet between them so that it can grow. And when it is strong, they turned out, away from each other, and love the rest of the world.

And so, now it is my belief that love doesn’t make people weak. Love makes people strong. It’s being bashed in the head by that damn two-by-four that you have to watch out for.

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95 thoughts on “About Love

  1. Dear Hairburner,
    “In Vino, Veritas”.
    Although we don’t speak very often, and see each other almost as rarely, we have managed to keep up a friendship over long time and great distances. If I’m honest, I say that it is YOU, that keeps our friendship together.
    But I cherish our friendship, and if it ended, then I would be in deep shit.
    Let me tell you what little I know about Love and Romance…
    I’ve lived a long time without either one. I’ve had romances, but I have yet to find True Love. I fear that I will grow old, very old, alone. I need love to save me.
    Romance is indeed a dirty fighter. Lot’s of fun, like watching a good movie, but ultimately leaving me walking out of the theater alone, checking my watch, and looking up at the sky. I want to have someone to discuss the movie with. When you experience something with someone, you can get nearly twice the enjoyment out of it, because you can re-live the event again with that other person, and you can get to see it from their point of view. Two heads are better than one. Romance is a floozy, basically.
    I’ve fallen in Love many times, but it was never a joint venture. The only woman I ever asked to marry me, was not into commitment, and she was the last woman I ever “made Love” with. I’ve reached the stage where I think that that may have been the last person I’ll ever make love with.
    But Hope is always there, along with her sister, Desire. Why won’t these women leave me alone?!
    So I’m cautious. Not looking for a concussion from a blunt object, and shielded from arrows aimed at my heart, but walking through the world looking for someone with whom I can let down my guard. The armour, Amour?, is heavy, and the bottle stands empty.
    I salute you, fellow traveler!
    Mr. Lucky

    • My optimistic view on love has left.. I do not believe in it anymore! One gives them self to someone to be left with disappointment… I know there are those that find true love.. but as for myself, I will love from a far…

      • I’m just the opposite. I figure if I love everyone, Nd try to tak e nothing personally, I can’t get hurt. It’s the “love for love’s sake” defense. But, loving from afar can also be beautiful. You get to see the bigger picture that way…

      • I believe that love never fails, it’s the man/woman that fails you. Human understanding of love is faulted because it is awakened to early, from a young age children are taught through media the happily ever after. although this is good to some extent they have forgotten to explain to them how to live happily ever after. You can’t expect a relationship to last if you only have erotic love for the person, you’ve got to love unconditionally ‘agape’. What ever is thrown at your relationship should be worked at together by both people for the relationship to stand firm.

        Continually, although this digress a bit to another side unless a person has unconditional love dwelling within they are unable to love

        So what is unconditional love?

      • I think so long as we keep trying to define what love is through words, we’ll never get it. It’s bigger than human comprehension. And unconditional love, even more so. But it is a beautiful thing. I know that much…

  2. I love the image of Romance being a bully, disguised as a cheerleader.
    “Love is a snowmobile racing across the tundra and then suddenly it flips over, pinning you underneath. At night, the ice weasels come.”- Matt Groenig

  3. Love for me and my wife was based on a stamp. If you get chance read the blog on the stamp and you will see. We have been married since 1970. I never hit her and she never hit me. The longest argument we had lasted ten minutes and then I realized how much a jerk I was and apologized. Love to me is compromise and I hope you find it with someone who will realize you are a great human being to share life with.

  4. If Romance is a bully, would it be fair to surmise that it seems easier when you are younger because you can take a beating and heal from it easier than when you get a bit older? But, the wisdom that comes with age then allows you to really appreciate and care for that Love as you carefully let it sneak it’s way in…

    I say, carry your own two by four – beat Romance down and then continue your journey for Love.

  5. When I see couples walking around the campus at my university, I often wonder why they get to be so lucky and if they realize the fact that they are lucky. Love is an easy concept during this age. It rolls off the tongue so easily.

    I wonder why it gets harder and harder to say “I love you” when you’re older.

    Anyway, this was great! Thank you.

    • Thank you so much.

      I wonder why it gets harder and harder to say “I love you,” too. As if the words themselves will shake the foundation of everything we know. Well, words are probably more powerful than any of us realize…

  6. I love this post! Makes me think a lot about the role of Romance in a relationship… Could it be just a fleeting burst of exhilaration which we crave for it later on (maybe the same relationship or perhaps new ones)? And what if we don’t get that fireworks in our hearts anymore… Anyway, during W(h)ine sessions with my GFs, we always remind one another that we need to Love ourselves more. That’s very important and often overlooked πŸ™‚

  7. one day… when i grow up… i hope i can write like you. just saying. πŸ™‚ as for romance, well some really great analogies going on here. i, too, feel like im in this really weird spot, especially regarding love and romance. i agree the romance is the bully but if put in it’s place, it has a place in our world. it’s a little like the horse that needs broken, tamed if you will. it definitely needs to be the winner between love and romance as romance can fade but love lasts. i suppose i’d say it’s a little like squares and rectangles…all squares are rectangles but not all rectangles are squares – that said… it stands to reason that while not all romance is love, all love is romance? or should at least. granted with love the romance may not be as passionate all the time but it exists. anyway, love this. πŸ™‚

  8. Being someone who has also been through so much, I have to say you couldn’t have portrayed it better! I enjoyed reading this and visualizing romance beating people (I actually laughed out loud). I have shared similar views in the past. I’m glad love has found you!

    • Thank you! I think I might end up being bashed in the head by that two-by-four, but at least now I’ll see it coming. I might not duck, but I’ll definitely brace myself!

  9. This is great – true and resonates experience. Love finds us though Romance eludes most of us.
    And it is this traitor that has made people miss the lack of Love in their lives. Some of us are blessed to have both and for the rest, it is love which keeps us alive – the awareness may or maynot have occurred. Thank you for this post. loved it. Congratulations on being freshly pressed.
    ps: Good luck for your speech at the wedding

    • Thanks! I think you all are helping me figure out what to say!

      As for love, I had a friend who once said that everything comes from silence and that silence is love. Maybe if we stand still and listen we can hear it whisper? If only Romance didn’t play her boom box so loudly…

  10. I thought love would be like rockets and poetry. But actually it’s quite ordinary. It’s sitting on the sofa watching the telly. It’s arguing about who’s doing the washing. It’s working out what to have for dinner tonight. It’s rubbing each others feet after a long day at work. It’s actually a lot more straightforward than I thought it would be. Romance is the Pied Piper of it all, leading you up the garden path, making you think it will be like some epic film. Certainly, my experience is that it’s a lot more quotiedian. http://monsieurtorres.wordpress.com/ http://monsieurtorres.wordpress.com/

  11. Pingback: About Love | inifiniteserendipityblog

  12. When you really love someone you don’t try to change them. You see all their obnoxious habits and love the person anyway. Love is really finding someone who’s crap you can put up with for the rest of your life. Good luck.

  13. Pingback: About Love | "FACE MY ABUSE"

  14. I just fell upon this blog and am intrigued… I officiated my ex girlfriends father’s wedding. Quite stressful. As for love… it’s closer than we think…

  15. Pingback: About Love | hanhsg

  16. “I’ve been feeling very… odd, lately. Like I’ve been sucked through a few different portals at the same time and am simultaneously lounging on a future beach in Sinai watching the moon rise over the Red Sea, while sitting in the childhood living room of an author I just met, as I’m walking into a screen door, drunk, at a party in Santa Cruz just shy of my nineteenth birthday and I’m writing at my desk, drinking green tea and wondering what my dog is up to in the other room.”

    I never thought someone else could describe exactly what I’m feeling – and so eloquently. This is a wonderful post. Thank you!

  17. immensely interesting. i feel love is so different person to person. i feel this joy in thinking about love. My emotions generally overpower my practicalities in life, and I think that stems from my intense feeling of love. on the other hand my other family members may think differently. i don’t know exactly how that works, but it does depend on what priorities you want to have in life.

    • You must have a big and open heart.

      I read a book about hearts and brains and how hearts are brains. Some people think with the head, and some are able to think with their heart. The two organs are intertwined, but depending on which ever one you lead with will determine the timbre of your life experience.

      Love, I agree, is highly nuanced.

  18. I said once, “Love is a decision.” I am constantly being challenged to keep it. I want to be right or on the right track most of the time, keeping it in place, when sometimes I don’t really know if that’s the right thing. As a friend told me, “Well, you know what, there’s no formula for it.” Yeah, what the heck, i’ll just love.

    Nice post..

    • Thank you!

      I suspect love is bigger than us, but created the humble illusion that we can generate it on our own so that we wouldn’t be overwhelmed by the power, sort of how we only really ever see the surface of water, but unless we’re really into it, don’t give much concern about all the things that are going on in the water, especially below the surface.

      I mean, if you stop to think about it – really stop – there’s an awful lot going on all the time. May as well stop, breathe, and enjoy it.

  19. How are you so sure that love isn’t an impostor just like romance? I’m of the opinion that they are Comrades in Arms .
    But I’m 21 and armored. Moving around with a steel enclosure in my chest that I guard with every bit of caution and fear.
    And then again there is a secret part of me that hopes that maybe, someone, someday, will find a kink in it. And it wont end in utter misery.
    That’s what I loved about your post. Seems like you passed the stage I’m in right now and it worked for you. Gives me hope.
    Thanks for sharing πŸ™‚

    • Per the steel enclosure you guard, maybe your heart needs it right now so that it can grow stronger. Just make sure you make it nice in there – a couple of throw pillows, some nice music, whatever it needs to fortify itself.

      One day, I suspect, a chink in the armor will appear, and then another, and if you’re very lucky, and you’ll do the work, you and your heart will be able to bend the metal.

      I try not to give unsolicited advice, but I’m going to right now… The more work you do on growing your heart, making her strong, etc., the less the universe is going to toss you around to teach you the lessons you need to learn. It’s either self-study or the school of life. Both are good.

      How do I know love is not an imposter? I sit in the woods, the rain forest, by the water as often as I’m able, I knock the words that cloud my vision out of my head, and I listen.

      • I’ve always believed in the advice you just gave me. And I definitely prefer self-study. But there’s a part of me that wonders whether I’ll look back someday at all the times I refused to open my heart to someone (for reasons that make a lot of sense right now) and regret those decisions.
        I guess I’m just going to do some listening myself.
        Thanks again.

      • You are amazing!

        I look back a lot, but I have very few regrets, three, I think, last time I checked…

        Life sometimes feels super intense, like a really ripe tomato. Other times, it’s sort of a watercolor blur…

        Anyway, it’s all going to shake down the way it’s supposed to, whether you’re crying or laughing.

        Rock on, sister.

        xo, a

  20. i have been actually debating this issue in my mind a bit… in a relationship which i’m sure is love but is missing the romance i wish it would have. but do i just wish what is only at the beginning of a relationship? and if i were to leave the relationship i’m in now would i just be feeling this way again in a few years after the initial fireworks of a new one? to stay or to leave… i feel that i can’t live without him but somehow am still missing something… maybe i’m not trying hard enough. damn you romance- how i long to be whacked by your 2 by 4….

    • Maybe in a relationship it’s okay to pull out the 2 by 4 every once in a while, just for fun. I mean, who doesn’t love a slightly concussive feeling of giddiness every once in a while?

  21. Pingback: About Love | thywonderlandd_

  22. I beleive in love with love will never find it. Just when I am set on simply sex maintaining I get mr impeccable. Love requires alot and it is not about sex. Sex is romance. Love requires much more. Women especally can get sex for free in fact better to get a hooker. You pay them to go away. Too many people confuse sex with love. Now I have to test Mr. Impeccable shoulder has if I really have to but we both have our asset combining phobias. Lucky at 50 kids are not part of that decision. After 2 divorces I know I fell out of love when they both became total dependant on it all. Love that constant respect earning from both p[arties or it fails.

  23. This made me smile πŸ™‚ I’ve recently gotten out of a relationship, a short lived but albeit serious and intense one at that. I had all of the romance I needed and craved so much when I was in other relationships and I became …what’s the word? Comfortable, I guess. Yeah, when you get settled it just…fizzles. Maybe the love is still there, you just don’t feel it as much I guess until something makes you feel it, and romance is one of those things.

    his relationship, the most recent one, was toxic. He emotionally drained me and all of thise romance was just a cover up for the fact he was a vicious piece of work and a very nasty person.

    sometimes romance isnt the be all and end all. someetimes being settled is a good thing, because i’ve found, maybe in rare cases, but none the less, that romance as a continuous factor could highlight a neglegence of being able to be settled and having to prove something.

    • I’m gad I could make you smile.

      I suspect love is a marathon, or a long walk. Romance tends to be a sprint. At least that initial spark.

      I’m glad you tossed out the toxic jerk.

      • It’s all a learning curve, toxic jerk was one of many obstacles I guess I’ll find, as will most people. Unless we’re one of the lucky ones. πŸ™‚

  24. This post was fantastically written and rings so true for me in my own life. That darn 2×4 gets me every time, it seems. I need to be ready for it – prepare myself for the eventuality that the romance will fade, and that’s when the real work begins. I just love love too much. I fall too deep and too hard every time, but it’s the romance I fall for, it seems.
    Great job articulating something that I’ve never been able to figure out how to articulate.

    • Thank you so much. I know. It’s that damn two-by-four. No matter how honest and open I try to be, I get bashed every time, too. I’m a sucker for a womanizer, what can I say?

      It’s lovely to love love. But I guess, it’s like toddlers with presents? Sometimes they like the wrapping paper more than the gift itself…

  25. Reblogged this on layshrink and commented:
    This post is just a beautiful summary of the difference between Romance and Love. I know, I know, I do a lot of talking about sex, but all in the context of Love. what happens is too many relationships get lost because we have come to expect Romance and her 2-by-4.
    Are you in Love or blinded by Romance?

  26. I love your description of Anastasia! She reminds me a little of myself…

    “Anastasia, on the other hand, embraces love like she embraces life, with joy, courage, passion, and hope. She’s not afraid of entanglements or making a mess. The harder things get, the more she laughs.”

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