Infatuation is carrying around a defibrillator on your hip like a fanny pack because you suffer from heart palpitations every time he glances your way. I wore heals to work once--big mistake. Every time he rounded the cubicle wall to ask me a question, I tripped over myself. My students guffawed at my lack of grace while helping me pick up fallen stacks of paper.
Adoration is finding the willpower to hit send on that text message you've been rewriting for an hour. After multiple revisions, a bought of panic, and two minor mental breakdowns, I settled on the classic "heyy," no capitalization (that would be too eager sounding) and two Y's for mild flirtation. No emojis, because we're probably not there yet. Place the phone screen-down because he doesn't get off work for another hour (you memorized his schedule), and you refuse to let yourself check for a text back until he's clocked out.
Desperation is sitting on the red couch an hour past your bedtime waiting for your phone screen to light up. Maybe he's fallen asleep. Maybe he didn't see your text. Maybe he regrets asking to exchange numbers. What if he's ghosting me? He didn't leave me on read! I scrolled through instagram for an hour, not really looking at the posts, just waiting for a message notification to grace the top of my screen.
Love is when you wake up the next morning in a pile of your own drool and look down at your phone to see a notification. "Hey! Sorry, I fell asleep! :) What's up?"
You Can’t Have Everything
I’ve ran out of ways to describe how you make me feel. And yet,
I haven’t even begun to graze the surface
I feel you in the wind and I feel you in the chilly afternoon air
I hear you in Netflix series and in The Beatles songs
I think about you every day, in the morning and the night
The second I wake up to the second I’ve fallen asleep
Even sometimes, my dreams.
You’re nothing tangible anymore.
Nothing more than a whispy lavender nostalgia.
L is for the lump you're married to
O is what I shrug and say to you
V is very very - very ordinary
E is even less than anyone might ever guess
That love is not a flame that burns your soul
Love is not an instant “thing” you’ll know
Two in love, well, maybe
- We both worked our ass off, baby
Love ain’t what you reap, it’s what you sow
- (a parody of L.O.V.E. by Sonny Lemaire / Paul W Martin / Randy L Sharp
The love we can’t give
-Love is a strange thing,
It comes in many different shapes and forms,
But all I see it as,
Is a sorrow filled storm,
My friends can have their sweethearts,
I have no objections,
But that doesn’t mean they can come into my love life and apply corrections,
They hate that I don’t fall in love the way they do,
But I’m like that for a reason,
To be anything but,
Feels like self treason,
I don’t want to love another,
For I always lose them in the end,
Just like I did my best friend,
The people I get set up with,
Don’t understand me,
But I put up too many walls anyway,
And refuse to give them the key,
I’m the way I am,
Why can’t they just leave me be,
Why can’t they just leave me alone,
And allow me to keep my dignity,
I don’t want to fall in love right now,
They need to accept that,
Because they are getting me into un needed crap,
I can’t give my love to someone,
For I have no love left to give,
I am distant and antisocial,
It’s just the life I live,
I don’t want any of it,
I never did,
I can’t just fall in love,
It’s something I forbid,
It’s not rocket science,
There’s nothing complicated about it,
So why cant they stop,
Why can’t they quit,
This is all just something I don’t want to relive,
Its just simply,
the love I can’t give.
amo, amas, amat.
You are seven.
Your mother tells you she loves you, and you accept it, because these words have dripped from her mouth for countless years to the point where you wonder what it really means. You think you love her too, because there is a funny feeling in your chest when she makes your favourite meal or helps you with homework. Then you see love in movies. It is usually between man and woman, pink lips on another’s mouth, hot hands seeking across adult bodies. You say ”gross,” when the phrase is said again.
You are thirteen.
Teenage years have taken unusual tolls on both your body and mind. Your friends ask if you like so-and-so; you say no, embarrassed. So-and-so likes you. The two of you agree to go to the cinema and press lips together like they do onscreen. At an attempt of flattery, you tell your date you love them, but the words are hollow. Empty. They fall from your wet lips and shatter on the theatre floor amongst the discarded popcorn and candy wrappers.
You are sixteen.
A student from school tells you that they love you, and you believe it this time because they shower you in gifts and attention and slather your face and body in gentle kisses and soft words. You tell your parents that you are in love. They look at each other and laugh.
You are twenty-five.
There is a colleague that meets your eye whenever you are in the same room. When your boss cries for a meeting, you find their gaze and they roll their eyes in response. Laughter ensues, numbers are traded, and over the weeks, you become closer. A friendship is formed. You love them, and decide that it doesn’t always have to be romantic.
You are thirty-something, nearing forty.
It is a Sunday morning and light has begun to gild between the crevices of your bedroom curtains. The bed is warm, but the space beside you that should be occupied is empty. You wrap yourself up in a spare robe. Upon entering the kitchen, all tension leaves your body as a welcome sight greets your eyes; your lover of many years, making a late breakfast among the sound of cooking utensils and smell of various ingredients.
You say it too often, but it always means the same. “I love you.”
“I love this song.”
“I love that dish.”
One word is not enough to describe the feelings you contain for a thousand different forms of it, and yet, you love.
It was January and she felt like crying. Those two things she was certain of.
She watched him quietly as he worked. The haphazard way he threw ingredients into the bowl was both mesmerizing and relaxing. He used no recipe. He removed sugar, baking powder and flour from the cupboard. He bent his tall frame to just above the counter and measured a cup of flour with only his eyes. His mouth never stopped moving, as if his chatter were the rhythm of the erratic yet confident dance he made around the kitchen.
And she said nothing, because speaking meant releasing the knot that had recently taken residence in her abdomen. A release that would inevitably be accompanied by tears, which she knew, so she stayed quiet.
She envied the confident way his hands worked, mixing all the ingredients around and around in the bowl. The rhythmic scraping of the spatula along the bowls walls was distracting.
“Hey,” a voice broke through her daydream, “you going to help me or not?” He smiled at her, his blue eyes laughing before his lips even curled into a matching smile.
“You want to help stir?” He prodded.
She shook her head, “No, I think you are doing a great job. Besides, I’d make a mess. I am terrible at cooking.”
He watched her intently as she spoke. “I can teach you, you know.” Again she declined, and he shook his head but kept stirring.
Once all the ingredients were mixed into a smooth batter, he greased and floured two round pans, and with the same ease and dexterity he’d shown moments before, he filled the pans to the brim and slid them into the oven.
“If I cook them just right, this should be a very moist cake.”
Moist. She scrunched up her nose. Gross.
“ I hate that word so much.” She smiled.
“ What word?” He asked, his forehead creased, “Moist?” Again she cringed.
This time his brow relaxed and he released a loud laugh that reverberated off the kitchen walls. His reaction startled her. And he kept on laughing, and laughing and laughing. Eventually he turned his back to her, forearms resting on the sink. He remained hunched over the sink, his laughter echoing off the dishes until eventually he turned back around, wiping tears from his eyes.
His laugh was infectious and she could not help but laugh at the stupidity of the whole situation. Normally she'd have been embarassed by someone belly laughing at her expense, but today his laughter gave her something that felt like permission He let out a long breath, as if he had been holding his breath that whole time.
“ I have never met someone that hates the word…. That word.” He caught himself.
“It’s weird….I know. But I just hate how it sounds.” She laughed, not quite meeting his eyes.
He rested his palms on the edge of the sink behind him, leaning casually.
“Do you laugh this hard with anyone else?” He asked, still smiling, “ Because if there is one thing you should be able to do with someone, it's laugh.”
She wanted to say that many people made her laugh that hard, but she would be lying. She didn’t have to tell him about the knot in her stomach or the tears waiting just behind her eyes. He knew about them. He could sense her feelings regardless of physical signs. He always could.
As he pulled the steaming cakes from the oven, she felt the knot loosen, and she smiled from deep down in her gut. She watched as he removed the cake from the hot pans, and with the rising steam came two certainties: she loved him, and she felt like crying.
When You’re Ready
I learned how to love by meeting people who taught me about myself. Then I met someone who let me be myself. The love was not instant. It was not love at first sight; it was none of our firsts actually. I knew I loved him when I stopped unpacking my past and my life, and did everything in my power to unpack his so I could learn more. I was hungry to know him better than anyone. I fell in love with a Rubik’s cube and all I wanted was to solve it and relish the rewards.
But this was impossible. He would be a monster for a thousand days, and on the thousand and first he’d be mine again. He would look at me with eyes of adoration and care, and the next day look at someone else with lust. He pushed away every emotion thrown at him and anyone who conjured those emotions inside of him; in the process, I was destroyed.
It took months for me to realize it takes more than a person to destroy me and it takes more than someone else’s denial and ignorance for me to lose myself. And that is when all the love I felt became almost tangible. I didn’t want to solve him. I didn’t want to make sense of his actions. I stopped waiting, I stopped worrying, I stopped hanging off of every word. Because suddenly his actions all made sense, his words supported them, and his heart became clear. I had become a translator, fluent in his heart’s complex language. My love wasn’t about having him for myself anymore, for solving the Rubik’s cube to reap the rewards - it was about watching him solve himself so when he does, when he’s ready, it will never be complex for us again.