Here I find myself caught in the tempest of high flying emotions. From all sides I am assaulted with squalls of that four-letter word, the dirtiest word I can think of: love. If it’s true that we as humans are afraid of what we do not understand, then I am fear’s most devoted protégé.
A few cases; a few points.
A friend has expressed his undying love for another human recently, and although I’m sure the utterance was at first in person, I was the unfortunate recipient of this knowledge via the internet. What a cold, unyielding messenger. The lucky one-and-only, the object of his unrequited blathering, however, is not the wide-eyed innocent you’d expect her to be. A series of ill moves on her part in the midst of Spring Fever left the boy’s heart broken—and what’s worse, there was no Relationship to speak of yet, so the shattered feelings found themselves falling on indifferent ground. There was a period of anger, a period of bitterness, and finally a long stretch of silence. It seemed that this relationship (lowercase ‘r’) had dissipated, as many (or most) relationships do.
However, in the heart of this boy was a spark that I’ve yet to define. But this spark led him to do the unthinkable as the fall turned its bashful cheek to the summer. Forgiveness? Not a dirty word like love, but no less mystifying. And now, the detached pronouncement over the World Wide Web has confirmed it: the boy is in love.
And in the midst of this, another weighty gust of wind pushes itself over the horizon. The logical conclusion of the Love declaration is, of course, marriage. And here, in the disjointed, disillusioned land of Private Christian Schools, the logical conclusion of a first date is also marriage. Of course.
But in this case, there was a proposal, a spectacular view, and a ring: a modest wink of a diamond grafted to the still-polished golden band that signifies so much within its wide-eyed countenance. And now two people with whom I’ve grown and experienced young adulthood with have united their own individual pasts with a vow to the future.
My friend was practically cross-eyed with delirium. She seemed younger than I remember (since I last saw her, two days ago), awash in wonderment and carrying the undeserving posture of someone who has received an unexpected, yet lavish, gift. I could see in her eyes that she was facing herself for the first time, in a way I wonder if I will ever experience myself. And now she is planning a wedding, and what’s more than that, a life—planning adulthood, charting a map for the future, drawing the road and stretching it toward the horizon. But it was her language; the mystic way with which she formed her words, that got me thinking.
It seems that she and so many others around me have tapped into a formidably sacred and highly secretive code: a new language, accompanied by new expressions, by a new flicker in their eyes.
“He loves me.” She declared, her voice quivering with earnest disbelief. And yet there was belief behind her words, and a stronger, soul-stirring confidence that I hadn’t noticed about her until now.
It was then that I suddenly felt myself teetering on the edge of a great divide; a chasm created by the earth suddenly yawning, shifting, crumbling, parting ways. There were still words, to be sure, and lengthy explanations for every tiny detail of the blessed Proposal and ensuing matrimonial plans. But the voice had gotten far away, had sunk inside my head until it was only a muffled garble, like swimming in a pool while the chatter of the party continues above the surface. You’re still there, but suddenly you are disengaged.
It seems that in my dwindling comprehension of that four-letter word, I have discovered inside of myself a distant, empty-eyed soul, illiterate and dumbfounded. I can see my friends, but there is something unfamiliar about them. It’s similar to a beloved blanket or pillowcase being laundered with different detergent; it’s still the same thread-count, but the smell is different—the familiarity has been jarred.
Here’s what I’m trying to get at. There is something stirring in me lately that I have yet to understand, much less explain. It’s a feeling akin to homelessness—rootless, rooting through the dredges to find a shred of the proverbial. It’s as though my heart has yet to find its home; its place of belonging. I suspect it is precisely that which causes such dissonance between these new strangers and myself. I suspect his or her heart has found a home—in confidence, in ownership, in grace, in the comfort of someone else. Whatever it may be, it shirks my feeble attempts to understand—much less attain—it.
What’s more, it seems impossible to write about love. Especially if I don’t understand it. So whatever you want to call it—and to my detriment, there seems to be no other qualifying statement that better explains that bitter mystery—love has eluded me. And until I can grasp its powerful effect on myself the same way my friends have, I will remain homeless.