What is it about the promise of new love that makes us stupid? Whether we are already in love and falling again or had been in love and have fallen out and now met someone new, we are remarkably stupid for what is generally considered to be a pretty bright race, if not the brightest – though I have long held that the premise is debatable – That we are not so smart after all. We fall in love and we do the stupidest things – and I’ve come to realize that what we call “love’ half the time, would not even come close to even my loosest definition of the word, for most of the time, such escapades are simple crushes or infatuations and the like.
Let’s face it, do other animals fall in love or lust or infatuation as we do? Does a gold fish or a duck meet another fish or duck and spend their afternoons or their days lolling around and being all googly eyed and stupid and speaking of nothing else but the new beloved, boring their friends half to death, wondering what s/he is doing at this exact moment, as we stare, starry-eyed at the moon and think about whole worlds that separate us, but gosh, golly gee, we’re at least staring at the same moon and “in this way we are together.”
I want to be all romantic about it and I want to believe. Oh trust me I do, but I’ve become cynical. I read Al Barger’s post on Silly Love Songs and I liked it, despite what every one else said because I too want to believe in silly love songs. because I want to be as stupid and doofy as Paul McCartney was and believe that there is more to this world than what we see every day, which is divorce and people breaking up and sad songs all the time from the radio and the groups that I personally listen to like those sad sacks Travis or even Radiohead or even lately I admit, The Flaming Lips and previously and even now, Nirvana and the like and yes, Oasis because I like them – all bands that sing about the crashing and the thrashing of love in one way or another. Some may do it harder, others softer, but it all works out the same. Love crashes and thrashes. It may come in soft, but unlike our month of March, love does not leave like a lamb. It leaves like a fucking lion ripping your heart out from your chest and throwing it hard against the wall just to see how long it will stick.
That’s love for you – or the end of love. It’s never pretty. Never as sweet and tender as the beginning because it just isn’t cut out for that.
Oh, don’t get me wrong; there are real loves that will last a lifetime and that mean everything in this world. Loves that no matter what, seem never to break. As my husband always said, loves like ours that have a certain ‘atom-crochus’, a soft of binding, rubber-band around us and it can “stretch and stretch and stretch” and never break, he once wrote and so far, he’s been right. That rubber band has stretched so many times and I was certain, so certain it had broken or would break, and yet I find that real love, if you are lucky enough to find it, is not as flimsy and fragile and pretty as this sort of infatuation love that we call love, but really, is more like a poor and distant cousin with a weak constitution but some decent looks, like that distant older cousin you maybe had a crush on when you were six or seven or nine if you were a bit slow. You get the point.
We’d do well to remember that just because we have the crush of the week or the month or the year or the decade or whatever your particular cycle is, that does not equal the same thing as what you may have spent years and years of your life – or in my case, a literal third of my life or more, building with one other person. That for all of the kinds of interactions we can and do have with other people, that a simple flirtation is never worth the trouble it causes, for in my experience, flirtations are far from simple and all too often, far too complicated to argue for any merit the situation may have had in the first place.
Oh, there may be sweet, spring days of bounding out of bed where you leave your true beloved at home and you go off to catch just one glimpse of this new person who makes your heart go thump-thump and puts a kick in your step, but in my experience, this pastoral idyllic sweetness very quickly sours when demands are made, when things get more serious or more, when someone at home finds out and then the shittra hits the fan and no matter what you may be saying right now as you read this, you know damn well that if you or your loved were to feel so betrayed that you wouldn’t be sitting here saying the words “harmless flirtation” because although in reality it may be, the truth is, that there is the same and equal reality in which it hurts like hell and that sort of betrayal is very had to recover from.
Now, I’m not lecturing for a do or a don’t on this, I’m just speaking from experience on both sides of this equation and I’m telling you , as you likely now, it seems always to end up with someone getting hurt – or a lot of people getting hurt for what is usually a very minimal pay off. Is it worth it? Wouldn’t you rather get a kick in your step som eother way, or better, if youhave a relationship, can’t you light afire under that again and make a go of it for surely thereis something there and if not, for heaven’s sake, don’t drag it out, just end it and move on for everyone’s sake. right? Enough dawdling.
Are there other loves, then? Is it possible in all of this for a different kind of love to co-exist while you are still deeply in love with some other? Can one have a simple crush that develop into a “kind of love” and can that coexist without damaging the other relationship? I can’t say – I think ultimately, it is damaging. That in the short term, you may feel all swell and proud and hey, I’m the man or the woman or whatever, but in the long run, I think that so-called and self-professed love will not be there. It will let you down. Say to this lover, this other, this interloper, If I fall, will you catch me….?
Is there nothing but silence? Silence and the sound of your own heart beating or breaking because you, damn it, were fool enough to believe that anyone could ever come close to even wanting or caring about catching you if you fell than the person you are with. And if you are not hooked up yet, then this is the question you should ask is would that person be there to catch you or are they here for the now? I cannot say what their answer will be, I only know that to me, this is the question one should ask.. for it is the most revealing of all. Try it out in real life and just watch who runs; it’s surprising and sad.
I recently watched the film Boogie Nights again, a film that I love as much as I love Magnolia and others in the class and once again, I found myself identifying with Amber Waves played by Julianne Moore and yes, in part the lovely Rollergirl too, as my younger self mostly because i loved roller-skating and lived in them with my one-step, but back to Amber; the red-headed, freckled, fucked up mother to the world with a good heart but who just can’t seem to get it right and winds up strung out on blow, like everyone in the film as the seventies slowly drift toward the eighties and every one fears becoming or is becoming obsolete. Okay; so I’m not strung out on blow and I’m not in the porn industry, but I do tend to become mother to all and to take in the injured and wounded souls, because I was always like that. A kid who took in sick animals.
There was a time not so long ago when I had, it seemed, half the world living with me. My sister and her boyfriend, ( #1, then #2 who became her husband); my best friend and her friends, my fiancé and my ex-husband and my ex-husband’s girlfriend of the moment, plus a brother every now and then who would sort of drop out of the sky and set up camp in my place because I’m their sister so it’s okay to just show up and plus, everyone had a key and seemed to be freely making copies for their lover of the moment, and so my brothers would hang around my house all day, fixing my back porch windows and painting the ceilings for me and doing other household chores, while Ian his his girlfriend would moon around together and once, I walked in on them making love, which was uncomfortable only for her, because he and I had long ago gotten over that and I stood in the doorway talking to them before realizing that by most people’s standards, this whole scene must be pretty damn weird. There were my sister’s friends from Smith who would come up for my poetry readings and then come back to the house and hang out and eat cake and drink wine and some would smoke a little dope, which was never encouraged, but as long as that was all they were doing, I figured better that than something else, somewhere else. AT least they are safe with me here. They were me, of course, who was most often at work, there as my fiancé – or soon to be fiancé who haqd been my long-time boyfriend, Mark, who had his own place but spent most nights at my place because it was bigger and more comfortable. There was Mel, who was in and out back from the Soviet Union and her grandmother, Yola, who lived downstairs and who was my old, Italian landlady and who kept me in line, and when the fog cleared and everyone left, it was most often just Ian and I, as it had been before we got divorced, just the two of us and both his and our cats, who immediately took to each other and fell in love and spent the days mooning.
It was a regular boarding house. Now there is a place where you can find real love because you had a bunch of people who technically should never have gotten along and yet they did. They got along and more, they became good friends and for this two year period in our lives, we were one big, messy, co-dependent family and we were all there for each other. I still have a photograph of my husband and my ex-husband walking on the beach, their profiles side-by-side, their grey heads and blue eyes pointing west as they fixed their gaze on the sun as it dropped into the ocean. I love this photograph because the improbability of it existing is huge. It should not exist; this moment should never have happened. These two men should hate each other by rights, and yet here they are, as friends.
We were all there, one actually helping the other and being there as each of us went through our respective crises, and there for me as I saw my best friend mowed down by a Dodge Caravan and dragged four city blocks before the car dropped her, her head dragging between the wheelbase and the curb and her brain literally splattered all along the route and I got the call and ran — ran faster than the wind to that hospital only to find a person in ICU that I could never have recognized. I tried to catch my breath. I tried to look. I remember looking at what used to be her face, and then everything went black.
When I woke up, I was in a chair in intensive care with a nurse holding my hand telling me of course it was a shock and explaining Caroline’s condition to me. I also remember her lover showing up. Then I remember the same day, her husband showing up and me being there in the middle, not even knowing that my best friend had had a husband – she had told nobody it seemed – and having to explain to him who this other man was. I remember how they shook hands over her comatose body. How her concave head and blueberry eyes gave no sign of life.
I remember going there every day for hours and sleeping on the windowsills where the air came out and being cold and scared and I remember most losing my faith in god, in love, in everything. I remember having to drag myself to work and do my job as Director of Publishing and everyone tip-toeing around me because they knew about C. and that she was in a coma and if she ever woke up, shit, she would never be the same. No. Our Caroline had died. We had lost her that day on the street.
I remember going home one night, after being at the hospital late and collapsing on my bed, briefcase, clothes and all, and then I remember waking up to “We Walk the Same Line” at about 10 pm, loudly from the kitchen, because my friend Melissa who, like everyone, had a key, came in and knew that at that moment, this was the song I needed to hear.“If you lose your faith babe, you can have mine….” I remember that line. I remember that this person would be there to catch me if I fell and I remember knowing that this was love.
To be like Amber Waves is to be ready to take in and take on the disenfranchised children who have been told these awful things about love and I am here to tell them or you or whoever you are that love does not have to be what your mother told you or what your friend told you. That instead, it is far more serious than that for it is up to you to define what love is to you; I don’t know anyone who can really define love.
I’ve known couples who have survived several affairs and are still deeply in love, if not more in love and I can tell you that if that were me, I’d be out the freaking door, but who the hell am I to say what works? I have even heard of “kinds” of love and I believe that – I believe there are kinds of love, I believe you take what you can get, that you define it how you like, that you meet someone or several who are like-minded and you work it out if you can because that’s the best you are going to do in this world and that may sound harsh, but it’s true.
I don’t have a bad take on love. Quite the contrary. I think love is the answer, as Lennon said and I think love is the Power and I think love is everything. I really do. I would even fill the world with silly love songs, but I don’t’ think love is necessarily silly. Yes sometimes, and I’m not into this “amour noir’ either, so don’t bother with that comment. I’m talking about a real and solid love that is worth finding and worth keeping if you find it and if you have found it, shit don’t risk it or waste it on something not worth having or that you think is worth having in the moment but a thing that turns out not to be the real deal at all.
I realize I’ve rambled and gone on and on. I realize I have said many things here, and I realize too that this is messy and maybe even difficult, but I hope that the main point comes across and that is that while love may hurt and may go out like a lion and all that I’ve said I believe to be true, I also believe that true love is lasting and worth finding – all I’m saying is don’t bother wasting it for someone who will not be there for you.
As I step of this curb in my t-strap shoes and my long skirt, some other steps off the curb in a pair of black oxfords a half a world away and we can look at the same moon and we can see the same things and we can have a meeting of the minds, perhaps a meeting of the hearts. I cannot say. The great thing about the world is that it spins and you just never know where you are going to wind up or how. All I know is that I want the right person to be there to catch me when I step of that curb and my ankle reels in it’s socket and our eyes meet and I feel myself start falling.
Are you there?
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