the bravest thing i’ve done for love is this: tell them. i’m sorry there’s no fireworks or quirky story (although i did once write to a then-Presidential candidate for an ex’s birthday)(who in turn sent a signed, personalized headshot, NBD) but i think that’s sorta the point, you know? it doesn’t have to be confessing your love through skywriting or some kind of elaborate scheme that involves spelling things out in pepperoni on an extra large pizza (but if you’re fishing for a charming idea, shazam, you’re welcome). i think the bravest thing anyone can do for love is to let someone know you love them.
i have done this. probably more times than my mom considers dignified for a young lady (then again my mom swore up until 4 years ago that Abe Lincoln was our first black president)(yes! i came out of THIS WOMAN’S vagina!). sometimes they’ve worked out in my favor, sometimes i spend weeks hiding out in a crusty hoodie crying into a tub of ice cream. but i do it because i think it’s important and also because i don’t think people do it enough. the world can always do with a little more love echoing out into the universe.
so if you think someone’s the cat’s pajamas, let ‘em know. yes, your entire entity might feel like it’s on fire and maybe do it in a place where you’re on solid ground without any windows around (my first instinct is to look for escape routes so i can confess-and-dash). yes, it might sting, because yes, sometimes feelings aren’t returned. but what’s the worst that can happen? this person who has been lucky enough to nab your affection can realize what a fortunate being they are for catching your eye, and, if the stars are smiling down on you, reciprocate in this confessional moment. feelings returned or not, you get an answer. and with this answer, you either stay on the train or decide to get off on the next stop because you’ve realized it’s not going anywhere. either way, it is a favor to YOU, my friend.
so that’s my bravest thing i’ve done for love. i put my heart out there, scabs and soft spots and all. don’t let anyone belittle it: it takes a real warrior to stand there and tell someone you think they’re the bee’s knees. seize that moment. own it.
it’s never been anyone else’s but yours.
You must make this mistake once—
pour boiling liquid into a blender, then pulse it.
When you see your burned hands, you’ll scream.
It will be this way with love. It’s not even
about getting it right. You think it’s about
protecting yourself, and eventually you will—
not by learning how to love, but how to do so less often.
By Ryan O’Connell
You will fall in love with someone who annoys you, whose orgasm face looks and feels pathetic. Despite all of this, there’s something keeping you drawn to them, something that makes you want to protect them from the harsh world. What you fail to realize, however, is that you are…
"You see, I love you. And love is exception-making.”
“That love is reverence, and worship, and glory, and the upward glance. Not a bandage for dirty sores. But they don’t know it. Those who speak of love most promiscuously are the ones who’ve never felt it. They make some sort of feeble stew out of sympathy, compassion, contempt and general indifference, and they call it love. Once you’ve felt what it means to love as you and I know it–the total passion for the total height–you’re incapable of anything less.”
Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead.
I do not think the ending can be right.
How can they marry and live happily
Forever, these who were so passionate
At chapter’s end? Once they are settled in
The quiet country house, what will they do,
So many miles from anywhere?
These blond ancestral ghosts crowding the stair,
Surely they disapprove? Ah me,
I fear love will catch a cold and die
From pacing naked through those drafty halls
Night after night. Poor Frank! Poor Imogene!
Before them now their lives
Stretch empty as great Empire beds
After the lovers rise and the damp sheets
Are stripped by the envious chambermaids.
And if the first night passes brightly enough,
What with the bonfires lit with old love letters,
That is no inexhaustible fuel, perhaps?
God knows how it must end, not I.
Will Frank walk out one day
Alone through the ruined orchard with his stick,
Strewing the path with lissome heads
Of buttercups? Will Imogene
Conceal in the crotches of old trees
Love notes for beardless gardeners and such?
Meanwhile they quarrel and make it up
Only to quarrel again. A sudden storm
Pulls the last fences down. Now moonstruck sheep
Stray through the garden all night peering in
At exhausted lovers where they sleep.
- Donald Justice (1967)
i was looking over my doodling journal and there, in sad pathetic tragic sopping bolded capitalized letters was FUCK LOVE in all its jaded glory dripping with i guess a sickening sense of entitlement and youth-motivated rash honesty.
and while the inner brat inside me is nodding its head and pursing its diva lips, i know better. i always have. it’s not love. it’s people. we’re such complex beings, with stuff going on inside us all the time, with all of these ulterior motives and feelings and outside pressure and distractions. everything that sucks happens inside you, and inside you is where you’re all soft and vulnerable, where every blow sends bits of you lost forever. if these things happened only on the outside that would be fine. at least we could wash it off at the end of the day. the inside is where things stick, like it’s coated with gorilla glue, where even the deepest colonoscopy cannot reach and make it clean again. the inside is where the scars are here to stay.
but my point is that when we get something that pure, it makes us crazy. we’re not equipped to handle any of it, but we’re learning, and we want so badly to try. so don’t bash love. bash people, but do it kindly. we’re still babies. we’re still eager and learning.
I woke up this morning in a bit of a funk (that ‘Speak to me and I will kick you in the face no matter how much I love you’ kind of funk) because I had this very emotionally-arresting dream. Emotionally-arresting by which I mean painful, like it’s your subconscious kicking you right in the nuts without warning.
In this dream I kissed one of my guy friends while he was wearing a peacoat. Which is odd because I don’t even know if he owns a peacoat (albeit a good investment, to the very little population of males currently reading this — and if so, bless your soul). And it was terrifying because then you pull back and you’re like, That’s it. The end of our friendship. We aren’t mature enough to pretend that never happened. Hello! We’re 21. The fact that we still get excited about buying alcohol says volumes about how so immature we are.
Not every person you’re going to love is going to deserve it. Not every person who’s going to love you is going to treat you right. Love is hard and messy and can sometimes feel impossible. But the most important part is remembering that even though it’s a lot of work and searching and maybe even waiting, you deserve it. The whole package. So don’t settle, and whatever you do, don’t give up.
On our way back from a party:
I asked, still slightly inebriated, “Do you ever think about who you’ll end up with?”
He said, without hesitation: “All the time.” And then, after a moment’s pause, he said, “But even if I didn’t… end up with someone, I mean, I think I’d be fine with just music. Music is what I love. It fulfills me. I mean, I know I can’t touch it, or anything like that—”
"Which is what groupies are for," I reminded.
"—But I can see myself being devoted to it for a long time."
"I used to feel the same way about writing," I said. "Breathing it and living it and all that. I used to want nothing more. But then those hours of the night creep in, when it’s really late and no one else is up, and it’s just you… and suddenly the tables have turned. It’s like something crawls into your chest, and it proves you wrong. It tells you that you’re lonely, and that you need people. And I think about why I write in the first place, and what compels me to write. It’s people, if not at least really people-oriented things, like feelings, and wanting to belong. And I think about all of my favorite songs, and how they’re about loving something, or something. Maybe loneliness can serve as a great tool for inspiration, but it would be nothing like love, you know? When you love something that much, that’s when your best self comes out to greet the world or whatever. For once, it feels like it has a reason to show up.”
I’ve been sitting on this ask for awhile now, and the timing is sorta impeccable because ‘Skinny Love’ just popped up on my iTunes. Bon Iver, the Patron Saint of Heartbreak, has blessed this post.
This is a tough one because there is no black and white answer for this. I think marriage is a commitment that shouldn’t be taken lightly (for a very vivid example of Holy Matrimony Don’ts, just refer to Hollywood) and is worth waiting for. But I am also a big fan of the concept of divorce in the fact that it can release people from what can be a loveless, constricting relationship.
I’ve probably read Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller a total of three times, and a thought that always occurs to me when I reread it is that he doesn’t make Christianity inaccessible. He echoes all of the same (if not at least similar) doubts and questions I have had and still have about Christianity, and he writes it so relevantly, so conversationally without those religious terms that can often put people off. He eases you into it.
I appreciate that a lot because growing up in a very church-active household, there is no easing you into things. You’re just born into it. Kind of like when you’re born to a royal family, except with probably less (earthly) gold plated silverware. You know the story of Adam and Eve before you even know how to add. Which at some point can be problematic because it becomes hard to separate yourself from your “religious education” and really think about what you really believe, not just what you’ve been taught to believe.
But that’s not what I want to talk about. I was reading it late in bed last night (after finishing an issue of Cosmo - I know, talk about hopping through the spectrum) and I came across this part in the book that I’d underlined. Donald Miller is talking about how sometimes he talks to his pillow as if it were a woman and he tells her that he loves her and that she’s beautiful. (It’s such a weird thing to start with but it gets relatable, I promise!)
It used to be that all our front yard ever grew were weeds. My mom used to fill up empty milk gallons and put them on our front yard to keep the dogs away, which made our yard even uglier. Then my parents saved up enough money to have some landscaping done. Gone was the dry, dead soil and the persistent weeds. What replaced it was lush, green grass and birds of paradise and brick red wood chips.
During the summertime, the grass would turn crispy and yellow from the dry and constant heat. My parents loved that yard, but my dad loved it most of all. Two weekends out of the month he spent a Saturday working in the yard, pulling out the weeds, trimming the grass. He used to wake us up in the morning, too, and we miserably dragged ourselves out of bed to help him pull out stubborn weeds in our backyard. We did this for years until we got older. We complained so much that one morning we woke up to see our dad working in the yard by himself, his face shadowed by his big straw hat, but still moist with sweat. We waited tentatively to see if he would come in and tell us to help. He never did.
I remember walking into the garage once and seeing the bags of fertilizer on the cement. My dad said that the grass was dying and that the fertilizer was needed. And my mom told him to be careful, to only give a little, to be patient.
A few days later we looked at the dead patch of soil that the fertilizer had burned through in our yard. The grass was lifeless and crumbled when you touched it. My dad touched his forehead while my mom scolded him about the fertilizer. “You put too much, and now it killed it.”
And I remember standing there, feeling sorry for my dad, and thinking how weird that was. That something that was supposed to make it better only killed it in the end. My dad loved that yard too much so he was generous with the fertilizer — which is what happens when you want to do right by something — and it only made it worse. Isn’t that what happens to us? When you love something enough, you don’t remember how to be balanced. Your emotions go from extreme highs to tragic lows. You can love something so much you smother the life out of it, even without meaning to. You think you’re doing right by something until you see the hole where your love had burned right through. You only see it then, the imbalance that made everything fall apart, when it’s already too late.