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                         Me, after begrudingly examining the lint of my soul for this topic:

                                                     

Now I've got that out of my system, I realised my disdain for having feelings makes me unable to impart pithy wisdom. But I remembered I have been asked this question before, and recently.
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29th November, 2012. Oriental Kingdom, Left Bank, Cuba Street
I was already getting uncomfortable with the conversation, but Simon was on a roll. He looked significantly across the table at Lena, then both looked at me. Simon's face was intense; Lena wore a wry smile. Simon pointed his finger at me, shook it in my direction
"So, do you love him?" he asked.
The gears of my brain jammed. I twisted my mouth to the side, considering my options for answering, and chose maybe the worst one. "What kind of a question is that, Simon? How - I - well?"
"You DO love him!" Simon crowed. Lena intervened. "She didn't say that, Si. You can't just make those assumptions."
"Damn straight!" I followed up, anxious to be supported. "I didn't say that, how could I say that? I haven't known him for more than a few months really -"
"Yeah but you were getting busy, we know - we saw you in the club, remember. Pretty romantic."
"We weren't. And you were much too pissed the other night to see anything... weren't you? Besides, believe me, all that time you lot were nudging and winking I was still trying to figure out if he liked me."
"'Liked you'." Simon sat back, shaking his head sagely. "But isn't love a many-splendored thing, Frith? Aren't you two madly, deeply in love?"
"I don't know. How can I possibly know that?!"
"Oh, if my hand transgress - " Simon was grinning, he likes his Shakespeare, too. "Does your heart go fast when he walks in the room? Are you sitting there working, looking up every time someone walks past, hoping it's him?"
This was beginning to cut a little close to the bone. My brain kicked in, yelling at me to engage avoidance mode and do it quick. I moved the conversation on to how on earth Simon had been quoting Shakespeare* and therein ends the pertinent part of my dinner-time inquisition. But I don't think my friend Simon is right. He's annoyingly perceptive, but he's not right about love.
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Love is your heart going pit-a-pat? Love is your longing to be by that person's side? Is love, like someone else suggested, knowingly sacrificing your own interests for another, and doing it gladly? These all seem like symptoms to me. It is the cause, it is the cause! (We're well into Shakespeare in the History department.) Where is this mysterious cause, this 'love' thing? Who can pin it down?
When A and I broke up (I'm being serious here, be gentle with my feelings), I was dreadfully upset for a while because I never said the fatal three words to him**. I never said them because, for one thing, I wasn't sure, and for another I didn't want to freak the giddy boy right out. I said things like "you make me happy" and "I'm glad you're here". Things that are true and sure, that I wouldn't look back on and regret as a lie. It's easy to fool yourself, so, so easy. It seems a little thing to toss those words out and say to yourself, "yep, this is the real thing, that's it right there". But how cheap.
I think, tentatively, when you love someone you have ties between you built of the two of you, like twisted roots of a tree and as hard to uproot. You might resent them sometimes, you might not even like them at times but those ties stay. You might try and try to loosen the knots but they're there, a web of actions and words and time. So you might know in retrospect what happened, you began to love someone, once upon a time, and then later you look back and say to yourself, "ah, that was love, right there, that ungainly knot. I see it now". But I can't recognise a pattern while I'm in the middle of it. I am not the guru this time. I am theorising, maybe I am in denial, I am certainly uncertain. How do you know when you love someone? I don't know at all. Maybe one day...
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I only wrote about romantic love (lit. lerrrve) because, well, because it was preying on my mind. Is that so wrong?
And in case you were wondering... we didn't end up together, but it worked out happily anyway.

*This led to some interesting revelations. There are upsides after all to a very small, very gossipy society, even when you're the subject of said gossip.
**
and maybe then he would have staaaaaaayed with me, we would still be togeeeether, woooooooe was meeeeee***, ****
***
I think it's more fun to do emotions like opera - that is, melodramatically and at full volume.
**** I am very very glad, now, that we did NOT stay together

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