Sunday, January 06, 2013
So I saw Tishie's Australia photos and thought to myself, "Finally, you're home." And it's true: there she is smiling like I've rarely seen her smile, cheek pressed against her husband's. And the guy looks like a million bucks to boot.
As happy as I was to see Tishie looking that way, I couldn't help but feel raw, cut open by all the old griefs that I'd thought time, illness, alcohol and a skeptic's rationality would have buried under a mountain of forgetfulness. No, Tishie and I were never an item. As a designated "granddaughter," she was off limits and I preferred it that way. It's just that what they have is something I'll probably never truly get. Not if I still want to make something of myself. Not if I expect a partner to stay with me in spite of herself, when time, poverty and familiarity drive away whatever affection she may feel, like so many dead leaves kicked about by the wind.
Of course, I could let it all go, allow myself the luxury of courtship again. Enjoy flirting. Enjoy sex. Commit to someone. But what would be the point?
I know what love is. And it's not what everyone else thinks.
It's not God. It's not the feelings, actions and brain states resulting from the machinations of fate or a capricious winged love-genie, even if how love acts can be aptly described that way.
It is the emergent thing arising out of our evolution-driven identification of "other" with "self"; our equally evolution-driven need to breed; and the varying ways by which we internalize, express, project and intellectualize the feelings, transactions and brain states that come with these inexorable drives. For all its power, beauty and complexity, it is nothing more.
When we love, we are simply raped by a natural compulsion. We perceive its power, and being the pattern-seeking, meaning-hungry creatures that we are, we project upon love its shapes, its textures, its smells, its features, its complexity. "Love" is what blossoms between husbands and wives and it blossoms with equivalent force and alacrity between husbands and mistresses. As each person is different, each will contribute to the experience of love with his own sights, his flavors, his memories.
"Love" is the same force that keeps women in the rural areas trapped in a cycle of pregnancy and regret. Every generation hosting mothers who "fell in love" and got themselves pregnant before they could finish school, learn to fly or otherwise fulfil their personal dreams-- before they knew any better. The same mothers promise themselves that they'd vicariously fulfil these dreams when their daughters finish school, learn to fly, or otherwise fulfil their own.
"Love" is what keeps someone hoping, against all sanity, in spite of the accretion of years and distance, that someone else will fondly remember long walks to the bus stop, stolen kisses in a parking lot and nonsensical stories on "their" bench.
When lovers are lucky, or truly committed, Love is beautiful and it works and we don't care how. We want everyone else to be this happy. When lovers are neither lucky nor truly committed, it's ugly and it can scar you for life.
Love is dangerous for the person seeking self-actualization.