Friday, October 27, 2006

Love?

Let me ask you about love.

When do you know it? How does it manifest itself? What things tell you, "this is the one?"

Why would I ask these things of you? After all, I know love. Love was in me and around me for more than twenty years. I know its shades and variations, its richness, and its pain. I know love. I know how love can see you through rage and anger and frustration and sorrow and loss and disappointment. I know how love can see through you, exposing your fears, your faults, your weakest inner self, and even then embrace you. I know how love feels when it is new, and when, like a fine cellar-aged wine, it grows rich with each passing year. I know this about love.

What I wonder now is how does it happen? What is it that tells you that this special person is different from all of the others? Is it smell? Pheromones? Looks? Brains? Talent? Touch? Sex? What is it? If someone had asked me these questions some time ago, I would have given an answer that might not be the same as what I would say now. For, you see, I may be in love again, but I have never seen her, touched her, felt her, held her, looked into her eyes and inhaled her.

I have read her, talked to her, and seen photographs of her. Is this enough? I have never experienced anything like this before, never begun to know someone from afar, vicariously through this medium that we all share. Is it real?

These questions now taunt me. What is different about "knowing" someone on line and "knowing" someone in the flesh (aside from the obvious tactile senses)? Can you know someone through the words they write and the sounds they make over a telephone? Is it the same as getting to know someone you meet in a crowded bar, or at the grocery store, or the theater?

When you go out on those exploratory dates, what do you learn about that other person and how do you learn it? Do the words that come out of their mouths carry more meaning than the words heard over the phone? Does body language and all of the bandwidth of human senses lend more legitimacy than words printed on a page or inflections heard from afar via a wireless connection?

What is love and how do you know?

Let me be clear about something even as I ask these questions. I know what I feel for this person. It is the beginning of love. It carries all of the joy and headiness and bliss and longing and smoldering feelings of new love. That is not what I am asking you about.

You see, I am surrounded by skeptics who view all of this with the disdain that is available only to those who have never felt the bite of love's sword as it cuts you off at the knees; toppling you helplessly into the gutter to gaze in wonder at the stars so heartbreakingly beautiful, and so out of reach.

"You are doing all of the things you warned us about," they say with proud truth. And it is the truth. I met someone on line. I surrendered a portion of my privacy (and along with it, my family’s) when I shared first an email address, and later, a phone number and a mailing address. If one of my children had done this, I would have read them the riot act. Instead, it is they who read it to me.

"You are vulnerable," say wise friends. "You have just lost your wife and partner of twenty-one years," they truthfully point out. "This was what - three months ago?" they pile on. True, true - it is all true, I say. I am the classic example of "rebound" I think in response. How can I defend myself against these earnest and honest parries? How can I reconcile the desires of my heart with my parental responsibilities? Am I truly doing the right thing? And what is it that I am really doing?

Am I opening myself up for a huge fall? You see, all of this is impossible to make sense of in a "real" way. If I fall in love with this person, how are we to proceed? We live a thousand miles away from each other. We are both parents with lives and responsibilities and ties that hold us to our places. How can we possibly make a go of this? Is it fair to our children to undertake this Herculean task of long-distance love?

And then there is the age difference. I know that a few years means little beyond the self importance of high school, but we are not talking a "few" years. She could be my daughter if we counted the span of time between my birth and hers. What will be the response of the mother when her daughter brings home a grizzled man, grey with the passing of years, and stamped with the deep grooves of life lived at the limit? What price is there to pay? What tax will our loved ones exact from us for this illicit and forbidden love?

These are the questions that tumble through my head from my first waking thought to my last bleary view of the bedside clock at the end of the day. But once more, let me make some things clear.

I am no longer a heartsick teenager waiting for the postman every day to see if there is a letter carrying a faint scent that filled my senses one magical summer's night on a bear skin rug before a roaring fire that burnt to pale embers as the dawn was breaking.

I am no longer a randy youth out on the town, empty headed and seeping testosterone, cruising hungrily for something to scratch an itch so primal and so strong that it pushes any semblance of reason or maturity down, down, down until only animal instinct animates my gangly flesh.

I am no longer a young father, panicked to near insensibility at the thought of raising a child so precious, so new, so magical that the sight and scent of her intoxicates my senses and sends me reeling into spirals of joy and fear and memories of all of the wounds inflicted in the parent/child wars of my youth.

I am a man in the second half of my life. I am a man who lives with a diminutive, but fatal, demon, inflicted by genetic mutation at some unknown time and place in my past. A man who knows mortality in an intimate sense. A man who wants to live, to love, to bathe in the wealth that those who wander aimlessly through this life know nothing of. A man who may not have much time.

I know this. And knowing it, wish not to waste a precious minute waiting for others to see the light that shines down around me whenever her presence makes itself known. I know the timing sucks, but so what? Love does not show itself on a schedule like the morning express train into the city. I already have known more love than many and to know it again is a pure blessing. I cannot, and will not, regret any of that.

Do I have the right however, to put my happiness above the needs and feelings of my children? I have stated, and believe, that my number one priority is that of providing for the health and welfare of my children. My needs come second. But where is that line?

Can I be a good parent if I cannot be true to myself? There is a conflict. When is it appropriate to see to myself in opposition to the wishes of my children? When do I become one of those who leaves their kid in a car while I spend the night in the bar or casino? Not the same, I know, but I am vulnerable to the charge, however it is laid at my feet.

None of this will be resolved tomorrow – or the next day. I do look forward to the day when I can run my fingers over the cheek bones of a face that I have known only in two dimensions. I look forward to breathing deep the scent of her hair and feeling the press of her body against mine. We both know the challenges we face. We both know the odds. For me, all I can say is that this is a gift, every day a gift that I carry thankfully. The future will be what ever it is.

4 Comments:

Blogger Cheesy said...

Oh P~~~ First off [please excuse language if I offend].. That my friend was a fucking beautifully written post,,,GAWD DAM!

Now that I have that out of my system...
So many thoughts to share... and no true answers in any of them but here it goes.. I think "what is love" is a question and answer session dif to all breathing beings.. But it sounds like you have the beginings of a lovely friendship at the least. No one can tell you when love hits.. sometimes it comes out of the blue and smacks you right between the eyes like a bug on a windshield. Can leave a horrible mess but sometime the colors are fascinating. I can only share where my heart has taken me and for many years I did not let love approach or conceive I could ever love again.. but it IS possible and some of this part of my journey,, hell most of it I keep to myself [sans my blog buds], I to hate the thought of being judged for the affairs of my heart. So I keep that just for me and the person I share my mind and soul and body with. I do believe you can love someone you have not meet in the flesh.. You can love someones mind.. heart and soul but meeting them, smelling them, touching them and sharing eye contact with surely does cement the deal. Well IMO it does and you will never know unless you shoot for the stars as there aren't really true do~overs in life. Take a leap~~ all that can happen is you may get bruised and have to dust yourself off and start a new quest for happiness. You never know when the perfect companion may shine into your life if you don't at least stay open to the chances.
And as to the amount of time any of us is allowed to grace this earth.. it's all percious and meant to be shared,,, healthy or not... we are all on a finite timeline... So my long twisted answer to your question is... how the hell will you know love if you don't at least try love.
And... with love in your heart and life.. I can see no harm it could do to your children.. it can only make you more compasionate and caring... even if the rest in your life can't see it that way.

10:04 AM, October 29, 2006  
Blogger Tiffanie said...

That was a beautiful post. Brought tears to my eyes.

8:59 AM, November 01, 2006  
Blogger Sister Spikey Mace of Desirable Mindfulness said...

You know, I didn't even realize I was thinking about this post still until the answer popped into my head as I was driving home tonight:

Delight. That's how you know this person is different than all the rest. Pure, electric, uncontained delight at their just being in the world, and now in your world.

7:42 PM, November 01, 2006  
Blogger Tommy said...

I'm happy for you man. You deserve a little happiness. Good luck.

12:59 AM, November 04, 2006  

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