“great love can both take hold and let go.” - A.R. Orage
i would never be so grandiose as to write about romantic love in general terms. i only have my own experience, which started in the first grade with a crush on a boy with blond hair and beautiful blue eyes who later got held back a grade. by junior high, love brought hot flushes of mortification after gym class, when my best friend ratted me out to my (until then) secret beloved, a boy who, not unlike me, had a shaky home life and at 13 already held a haunted look in his eyes. he teased me mercilessly but called me on my birthday, and that was that.
through all the years since, i have fallen in love many times, all different, and sometimes i didn’t recognize it as love at the time. i’ve felt rootless, can’t-eat-can’t-sleep love, the kind that is all-consuming and takes you frighteningly outside of yourself, a kite without a string. i realized one man who I loved deeply was terrible for me because even though i was a seasoned baker, every dessert i made while with him was a disaster. i was always in a state of anxiety, emotionally never able to see or set foot on dry land.
i’ve had best friend love with a brilliant, gorgeous, talented man who was sweet enough and wise enough to always capitalize Love. with him, just driving in the car through the streets of atlanta with the windows rolled down while listening to cheesy hip hop mixes was deeply satisfying. he made me laugh, and while we both made many mistakes, we always came back together as friends. he died going on three years ago, and there is not a day i don’t experience the world through his lens.
we tend to evaluate love through its outcomes, but the truth is that even when it’s real, our paths aren’t always aligned. it doesn’t mean Love isn’t true. life is essentially a string of experiences, and at the end of it to me what’s most important are the significant, deeply moving moments of connection with others, the ones where you know you’ve been seen. we can’t know where any connection will take us. the times i’ve worked hardest to protect myself are also those when i’ve been hurt the most.
at the end of it all, whenever that may be, i want to feel i’ve put myself on the line, that i’ve stepped forward when it counted and refrained when doing so is actually the highest expression of love. i want to be continually courageous enough to extend to those i love what i most deeply need: the freedom to roam, physically and psychically, and the openness to return and be enfolded because of (and sometimes, in spite of) who i truly am.