When it comes, will it come without warning. Just as I’m picking my nose? Will it knock on my door in the morning, or tread in the bus on my toes? Will it come like a change in the weather? Will its greeting be courteous or rough? Will it alter my life altogether? O tell me the truth about love, so wrote W.H. Auden.
Oh love, love, love. Silence was the song, blablabla… Is it still worth talking about? What more can be said? An exhausted old word, bruised blue like a violet, it’s been capitalized and deified, praised, prodded and profaned over and over the centuries by the besotted and unrequited, by poets and wailers, sundry keepers of the language, each certain theirs is true.
Love was rarely discussed explicitly when I was child, but I grew up nourishing the most ludicrous expectations. Is it any wonder? All those marvellous tales and breathtaking images read into my head, just before bedtime and dreaming. A promise that handsome Prince Charming would gallop on by, swoop me up and off down that bright winding path one day. Granted those boys were one dimensional at best–I can’t recall them having uttered a single line–but who cared? They were going to make you happy forever and ever.
An endless string of disappointments and you feel that promise slipping away, begin to revile its puerility and, one day, hear yourself bidding it farewell. Relieved, I suppose, though curiously sad to see it go; it had been part of your dreamscape since girlhood. You realize that it’s only that sense of panic that’s part of all rites of passage, why so many people stay in bad situations until long past reasonable or healthy. It can be difficult to let go of old patterns or mindsets before having found a replacement. Familiar misery may seem easier to bear than the void.
Then I just stopped trying, stopped hoping, or so I told myself. I found myself bereft of illusions, wary, tired of all relationships ending the same way. I much preferred to be alone than in some shabby compromise, and found that I had no envy of happy couples, nor of dewy-eyed new lovers. The few attempts I did make were quick shambles, and only increased my desire for solitude and made concrete my resolution that unless… no, forget it.
Oh, damn those clichés of when you least expect it… What is the matter with me? With all the men in the world, why can I think only of you?, a line from Six Dynasties.
You on the other side of the world, turn right then travel the vast continent go by the Arabian Sea. As I was falling in love with him, his mind and his voice, I’d go for long dreamy walks not seeing the landscape, half surprised to discover that I had, apparently, made a sort of checklist in my mind of things I wanted, what I needed to let down the drawbridge, try again. Realizing then and this sent me gasping for air, that this man was making that list pale with shame over its inadequacy, its lack of imagination and audacity. He was leading me in a divine tango and I was learning to dance.
He makes me weak in the knees, just plain helpless at times… feeds my thoughts, sends them racing, makes me laugh like a girl, get nervous and breathless, ambushed, dazzled by how vast this love, this joy, this wild hunger. It terrifies and thrills me (and me, all grown up), respect and lust in equal doses, good Lord! Constant thoughts of his imminent arrival eradicate my ability to speak in full sentences and the urgency of tasks at hand; the remembered taste of him makes me reel. Going places I’ve never been, ravenous, I’m coming back to life.
Cinderella can kiss my butt.