Dear Eros, Agape, Philia, and Caritas,
It’s Valentine’s Day, and today is dedicated to you. In my life, that’s true of every day, for the most part. But this one day a year, I let out my inner romantic along with my outer one, and boy is the world awash with all I hold inside me. The lot of you haven’t always been kind to me, but I still believe in you and your infinite variations.
Today, and on Christmas to some degree, (you can blame Love Actually for that usurpation), I tie up my apprehension, my fears, my overgrown sense of propriety and bind, gag, and shove them all in a closet for the day. Today is a day to love, openly. That doesn’t mean I run around screaming declarations of love to everyone I love. For the most part. ;) But it’s there, heavy in the spaces between the words I say. Today is a day for love without limits.
As it says in Corinthians 13: Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. While I admit in my attempts to read the Bible cover to cover I’ve always found myself grounded to a complete, unobjective halt in Exodus, the passage from Corinthians rings truest of any I’ve encountered in the book.
To me, this means that whatever I love I have to give is given freely, without expectation or demands on those I love. Sometimes that’s a little rough on me, because my own wants and desires go unfulfilled, but that goes with the territory. When you love someone, you want them to be happy, even if you don’t get to play the part in that happiness that you long to play. I suppose this is one of the times when there are no small parts, only small actors.
My parent’s and the books they left lying about on bookshelves for a curious child to read taught me how to love. No matter how much of a pain in the ass I was, no matter what money I cost them, how angry I’ve made them, or whatever stress I caused, my mom and dad have found it in themselves to love me, and each other, unconditionally. My parent’s relationship isn’t always typical, since for at least the second time in their lives they are married but living in separate states. But in it I see them talking every day, flying miles and miles to spend time with the one they love, and finding opportunities to bring a romance in their lives that had waned as they finally settled into one place for longer than my mom had ever lived in her life. Yet she says, even to this day thirty-five-ish years into their marriage, that he has always been her white knight.
How could I not want to be that man for whoever lies in my future?
Ultimately, I want to share that love with someone as we build not only a life together, but help support and build each other into better version of ourselves individually and as a relationship, partnership, and friendship.
As I told someone recently, I have discovered what it means to love in a way that all those strange Greek and Roman names I dedicated this Valentine to are so mixed together that I can no longer tell where one begins and one ends. And perhaps this is what it means to mature, grow older and learn what love is. Perhaps it was this revelation that I was waiting for before I actually found the one I’ve been writing all my “Love Song[s] for No One” to. As always, it may be that I haven’t met her yet, or that we’ve just not gotten to know each other on that level yet. Regardless, all the past disappointment will be worth it to love, and be loved as I have grown to understand it.
The best part is that, like a great redwood, love never stops reaching it’s branches into the sky. May my love, past, present, and future exceed the bounds of even those mighty trunks and their leafy shade. I will always believe the heart is a thing of dimensions, existing in terms of universes layered one upon the other, and like a universe, expands at an immeasurable rate. I have forgotten what it means for love to come to an end. Every time I think one is truly past, I find that the door was simply closed, that love just faded into the background to be renewed when the door opens again.
Behind some of those doors you will find my family. My dad, my mom, my half-sister. Behind others, loves thought lost, or simply comfortable friendships that hang silent in the stars like constellations waiting to be rediscovered. You may find some of those universes expanded further than others, loves better understood or treasured and developed for longer.
And then there’s the one universe with a question mark painted on the door. Galaxies swirl slowly in clusters, stars go through their cycles of birth, growth, collapse. Planets spin lazily around their solar systems, their suns, fertile and waiting for a tiny bit of definition to give them life. Sometimes, another universe looks so close to the one with the question mark that I think perhaps it is, but so far, none have proven a perfect fit. Sometimes it is some other gravity that keeps them apart, and sometimes it simply isn’t the right piece to the puzzle. There are so many pieces out there, but only two can make this puzzle whole, and I hold one.
I value love beyond almost anything, and am most inspired by it. I am a romantic and a creator. The creations I love best are those I was driven to create by one muse or another. I enjoy making my art without one, but my favorites are always inspired. It is the greatest gift I have to give, and I give it freely. Those I give it to may never know, and that’s fine too. If it were that important, I would tell them. I know they are loved, and I can show it in small ways if the opportunity presents. Otherwise, I am content to hope for their ultimate happiness.
Someday I hope to find someone whom I love in that incomprehensible mixture of friend, lover, passion, commitment, duty, goal, partner, inspiration and, without asking for that love, receive it in return. We will share our love, the way we’ll share a bottle of wine or two or an evening out dancing. It won’t always be easy, I’m practical and realistic, whether it sounds like it or not, but I will enjoy fighting and working to compromise and move forward with her as much as I do making love to her or making her smile. Yeah, there’s a little sadomasochist in me. ;) I have come to understand though, what the character in whatever movie that was meant when he said, “I’m here because I’d rather fight with you than make love to anyone else.”
This Valentine letter ended up much differently than I imagined, but I think the expression I shared was no less important that for it. I introduced myself to a lovely Valentin Malbec this evening, so I think I’m going to spend the rest of the evening getting to know it intimately. =)
Happy Valentine’s Day, my dear, dear friends.