Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Valetine's Day

I wrote this several years ago, and I am sure I have already posted it here, but too bad for you. It is as true now as it was then, and really has what I like to say in it. Enjoy:

A very good friend of mine once told me I could not use the word "love" as a verb until I was fifty. "OK," I though, "She probably has a point." I can see the idea behind it perfectly: When we are young it is easy to throw a word around without ever thinking the power behind it. As we age we better grasp what it is we really want out of life, we get a better sense of self, and we are better equipped to make such a heavy statement. It all seems very practical.

Well, to hell with practical. Let me tell you about some of the times I was in love.

In first grade I loved my neighbor. As truly as one person can love another, I loved Blair. I would have given my life for her. We built or friendship around mud-pies, a lean-to made of lawn chairs, and a remote controlled robot. A week before I moved away we played "you show me yours and I’ll show you mine." And the day I moved we closed our eyes, pursed our lips, and lovingly ran into each other’s foreheads.

In fifth grade I fell in love with Angel. She was a fourth grader, so our love was forbidden. Lest the Montagues of fifth, and the Capulets of forth find out, we hid our love behind a merry-go-round and a delivery ramp. She gave me a picture to put on my desk at home, and all bets were off. On Valentines Day I bought her candy, and planned to sing "Everything I Do" by Brain Adams. Ms. Peppin made me stay inside that day, which was a Friday, so on Monday I walked out in front of everyone and gave a command performance. I ate the Chocolate over the weekend. I loved her, but chocolate was a treat.

My love progressed onward. In junior high I tried to love them all. I think I came closer than anyone else around me, too. I loved one so much I hurt not to be around her. I had one or two love me back, I think, and more than that pretend. I was in love with being in love, and loving every minute of it.

I went to a summer camp and loved an older woman. Without knowing it she taught me about love with longing, love from afar, and love of beauty. She taught me to love unequivocally. I forget her name, but her eyes still enchant me.

In high school I learned I could love a man. To this day, I do. We shared thoughts and secrets no one will ever know. The last time I talked to him was August 15th, and the next time I talk to him it will seem like no time has passed. And to date he is the only man living who can say I love him.

I loved hard my first summer away from home. I met an enchantress who could make me love and hate her in the same breath. She taught me I could love and hurt, and hurt who I loved. She taught me I could let go of love without losing it.

Freshman year I loved more than ever. I loved a lifestyle, I loved an atmosphere, and I loved a book. I loved an idea of myself as I could be. I loved potential.

Last year I loved two women. The first I loved for who she could be, and who she couldn’t be. The second I loved in spite of myself, and my friends. I loved her so much I gave up myself. And I love her still. More and different than any of the others. I know her by this love, and it reflects in our eyes when we talk. This is the love I was not supposed to be able to address until I was fifty.

Now, my friend might say these things were attachments, infatuations, blindness, or just childish. In her eyes, she may be right. In mine, she is being one of the worst kinds of bigots. Age exclusory, I think I will call it. Ask a 5 year old what love is, and I bet you dollars to pesos they will give a more profound answer than someone ten times their age. And it will make more sense, to boot.

Now let me tell you how I know what my love is, and that it is real. You can judge after that, and I invite you to put it through all the paces. I know my love for these reasons: I smell her on my pillow and reach out to grab a body not there. I learn things about myself in her eyes. I hurt when I think I hurt her, when I think I might, or when I think I don’t know any other way. My sister likes her, and thinks we communicate. She smiles at me when I am not looking, and she smiles the same when I am. She calls me out when I try to pull one over on her, and better when I try to pull one over on myself. And her head fits in that space between my chest and shoulder.
That’s love, plain and simple. I am not fifty, and won’t be for some time. Maybe when I am, this paper will look quite a bit different. Maybe. But the same odds I laid about the 5 year old says she’s still in it. They all will be. I loved each one.

I love.

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