Maybe it was the post about The Lettermen yesterday or the trigger from a tv show that had me crying yesterday, but for some reason, I am thinking about love in all its splendid glory today.
Entering the autumn of my life I realize my definition of love has changed. Maybe life gives you perspective and it is easier to separate things like love, desire, passion, and longing.
I say ‘I love you’ much easier now than in my youth, but I say it acknowledging there are many different nuances of love. I love my husband, I love my friends and I love my family. When I love you, I have no difficulty saying those three magical words.
Saying ‘I love you’ in our youth carries a weight of response and expectation. I wonder how many books and movie scenes I have witnessed that expose the dangling ‘I love you’ that hangs awaiting a response that never comes.
I remember my first boyfriend. His name was Gordon M. and he was in my first grade class. I still have my class picture and see him and still remember how much I liked him. Of course he had no idea he was my boyfriend — but I knew.
I remember all the loves of my youth. They were each filled with a shy awkwardness and I felt my life would surely disintegrate into nothingness without them. Of course that is the dramatic love of first experiences.
I remember being angry when my parents told me “it’s just puppy love”. It never felt like that to me.
When I was first allowed to date, I remember going to the movies with my boyfriends. These were the times of kissing until my lips hurt and that rush you feel for the very first time. I can still remember some of the movie titles (“Prudence and the Pill” and “Good Neighbor Sam”) but I saw very little of the movies. This was a time of electric excitement.
Then confusion ensues when we start to experience the emotions of love and sex and the ramifications of both. These are the times when real heartbreak makes you feel as if everything you know to be true has been disrupted. Maybe this is when you start to realize that trust is as important as love.
Thinking back to prior marriages, I can see a lot more clearly now than I did then. I understand how longing and love can be confused and I can see clearly that ‘love’, perhaps cannot be enough to sustain a relationship.
Love has gotten easier with age. The goals and desires for companionship are easier, at least from my perspective. I remember well the day hubby and I got married. Before the ceremony, we looked at each other and agreed that if we were not In this for the long haul, then why bother?
There are probably more books, movies, poems, and quotes about love than any other topic. That tells us how powerful it is.
Love does not hurt. It does not cause you pain. Love does not co-exist for very long when anger arrives. Complacency can cause loneliness. Comfortable can have an easiness about it as long as it’s not so comfortable that the feelings dissipate. These things bring an end to marriages. Maybe this is how love dies.
I am a huge fan of Rod McKuen’s poetry. I was sad when he died. He wrote about love in a way that spoke to me. He wrote about the emotions that get confused with love. He wrote about love in the middle and late years of life, which I appreciated so much.
I recently read about Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass” and how controversial it was when first published. People were so offended they burned the book. Publishers refused to print further editions. There were aspects of love and life not to be discussed in the light of day.
I had no idea where this post would go when I started writing. I just know love seems easier now. Not lacking passion, or without feeling. Experience and time make it easier to discern the difference between love and other emotions.
It is also possible that we love ourselves and our life that we no longer feel the need to share our time and space with another person. It takes work, even when it is easy. When my father passed away, my step-mom said she might go out to dinner with other people but she would never wash another man’s underwear.
And there you have it.
On that note, I will go about my day. I try not to fall this deep in thought too often.
Three, by Rod McKuen
You see how easily we fit together,
as if God’s own hand had cradled only us
and this beach town’s population were but two
and this wide bed but a child’s cradle
with room enough left over for presents.
Tomorrow I’ll buy you presents.
Pomegranates and breadsticks,
tickets round the room and back
and red, red roses like everybody buys everybody.
Everybody’s got a diamond ring
And Sunday shoes.
Neckties and petticoats,
pistols and tennis balls.
What pleases you?
I’d hock my watch to buy you Greece
or sell my car to bring you rickshaws from Rangoon.
All they had down at the corner
were poppies with some lemon leaves.
They’ll have to do
till I can bring home Union Square.
I found a twenty-dollar bill when I was ten.
I bought a cardboard circus and a fountain pen
and a jackknife because I never had one before.
My mother thought I’d stolen the money.
I bought her perfume from the dime store,
She believed me then.
I was rich in those days,
for a week I had everything.
I wish I’d known you then.