Yesterday, I had a disconcerting talk with a friend of mine. He is in love, you see, or he thinks he is in love, with a woman who very well may not even be aware of the depth of his feelings.
This man is pretty fabulous, and seriously, a catch. And for the last year, he’s been living inside his head, believing everything in his life will be better if he is just with the “one.”
He admits that when he and the woman were in a relationship (the engagement was broken off last year after a whirlwind four-month courtship), they fought constantly and were seldom content, but it doesn’t matter.
The air is cleaner, the sky is bluer, and his love is only for her.
This conversation got me to thinking. How does love feel? I believe true love is the most difficult expression to verbalize because it feels like nothing else and is unique to each of us. But, what if we could display what it feels like for others to see?
As an early teenager, I pictured love as warm and fuzzy, rather like a Love’s Baby Soft commercial of the ‘80s. I envisioned myself working at a ski lodge, wearing a lavender angora sweater, with short blonde hair, a la Olivia Newton–John, and Gloria Vanderbilt jeans. My eyeliner would be deep plum and I would be popular. I would work behind the ski counter (okay, I’ve never skied, so give me some credit here for originality) and would look effortlessly, breathtakingly beautiful. The mysterious blonde man, who looked rather like Christopher Atkins from “The Blue Lagoon,” would walk right up and fall in love with me. And that, dear friends, would be that. I would be whisked away from the humdrum life into pure, sweet oblivion, because this guy had made it so.
Yes, I smile as I write that memory, but here’s the thing, that daydream of mine wasn’t so different from my friend’s current longing with his ex.
Both of us, my friend and my teenaged self, thought we wouldn’t be complete without that special person, as if we were waiting to begin our lives at that point, and not before. That’s not love, that’s avoidance.
Anger I can communicate, as well as betrayal, distrust and hate. Those feelings are hot and red and whoosh in from someplace deep inside. And I’ve felt many other things, like lust and obsession, and all of those have been fun and sometimes dramatic, and often electric. But, for me, love came from a place I had not yet known and it brought with it a sense of peace, of calm.
The first time I realized I was in love, I was stunned. It was a grounding, a centering of my self. Although everything in my life was already good, this emotion just added a subtle layer, rather like tasting a slight undertone of cinnamon in a brownie, it’s often there, but you have to place it. And I’m not sure if it’s like that for others. We only know our own realities, after all. I held on to it as long as possible, not wanting to share with anyone but the intended.
And once it was over, the space was empty and hollow for a long time. The void it left behind is much easier to describe, but I won’t.
It’s funny how the commercialization of love goes over so easily, via Valentine’s Day. I have never understood the sentiment of expression for that one day. Why then? And what makes red and pink hearts more special to something so sacred? I don’t know.
As for my friend, he’s working on those feelings and he’ll move on, eventually. And when he does, he will be all the better from this life lesson, I hope. My wish for him is that soon everything around him will be good enough or even great while he is on his own.
I have no idea what I’m trying to say here, except that I appreciate how rare that feeling is and sometimes when we have it, we forget that we lucked out in finding it. It doesn’t happen every day, so take a moment to celebrate the gift you’ve been given.