Give me unrequited love over requited apathy any day.
≈ Her Point of View ≈
I once had a little burgundy room that required seven coats of the color when I painted the walls. On the floor lay deep red hand-woven rugs, silk purple cushions and Moroccan tables. I called it the Opium Room. In it, my writing desk sat between two windows that overlooked a heart-tugging Tuscan setting in the Hollywood Hills.
A grayed-out day came when rain poured relentlessly to drain the trees and hill houses of color. But my poppy room was a pulse of blood encased in glass, hovering over a watery world. How grand it was to sit within as if the rest of the world was a dream in grayscale.
At my floating desk, I wrote about my addiction to pathos. And hard hitting fixations that did away with my focus and emotionally incapacitated me for weeks. This time I had developed a mad, irrational, overnight crush. I thought I saw signs everywhere that there was a reason for it, something right about it, even if a ‘sign’ was merely our matching phone digits.
Perhaps it sounds too earnest to sober ears, but the sweet ache of that crush, the burning in the style of old verse, syncopated with my every second. It spun in the air molecules I breathed. Who is ever sober through a crush? I was mercilessly attuned to words, songs, birds, a delicious breeze. It wasn’t the first time.
I know it isn’t difficult to fall in love because I’ve thrown myself off that cliff again and again. As much as the crash is human breakage, the ride through the air is human flight. The patter of adolescent love in a grown-up heart is magic.
The way I see it, within three states of love — its abundance, its loss, or its neutral absence — the third is the safest, sanest place to be. It’s also the most deadening. I recommend it only if you have important work to do, such as figuring out cold fusion or finishing a novel. In fact, maybe just cold fusion, because you’d surely write your best novel while living with the loss of love, assuming you’re capable of writing through your personal breakage.
As for attempting to get anything done while in the first stages of requited love, don’t bother. It’s true that new love demands the same attention as a nursing infant, but that’s not why. It’s because no matter what kind of druggie or alcoholic you may be, nothing skews judgment more than the beginning of love. Better to wait until your miracle is at least toddler-age. (If your love happens to produce an actual infant, all bets are off.)
Both the loss of love and pining for an unrequited love share the same context: something you want but don’t have. The difference is, having had love and losing it dismantles you, while wanting it prior to having it pushes together every bit of you to the brink of implosion.
In my Opium Room, I wrote every single day after I met him. I couldn’t help it.
He was a phantasm that both dwelled in me and surrounded me. I was owned. Years later, what stands out to me from that kind of crush is the habit-forming quality of the heart pangs. The feeling was imprisoning yet irresistible, like any addiction. Still I say, give me unrequited love over requited apathy any day.
Imagine all that pining and tension to be a cosmos of suns and shooting stars sealed inside your ribcage. Now, flash forward to the moment just before the first kiss, and you are face to face with the object of a universe of longing. The moment of culmination, that still micro-instant before the galactic combustion of your cells meeting for the first time, makes all torment over love worth it.
I would spend a lifetime prolonging the moment before the first kiss if love itself didn’t take over to run the show.
My fantastical crush and I ended up together. Somehow that added to the magic instead of taking it away.
I knew it was rare for anyone’s object of daydreams — and nighttime dreams and everything in between — to lead to a real relationship. It made sense to me that people subconsciously pick crushes they can’t be with because they’re addicted to the pathos, or the fantasy, or the dopamine, and don’t want it ruined by the reality of a flawed flesh-and-blood person. So call it fluke or cosmic design, but in spite of warning that such consuming fires burn out quickly, he and I remained together for a good many years.
Was it the default pining of long distance that infused the relationship with magic? So many hours spent on the road to reach each other. He was also a daredevil, therefore he could die, and though he gave himself to me fully like I did to him, I could lose him in one miscalculated second. Something, whatever it was, kept the moment of pre-kiss combustion alive even as we burned for one another, and continued to burn after pedestrian dysfunction led to our relationship’s demise. It took us another few years to let the love shift from abundance to loss.
The Opium Room existed in another lifetime when I lived in a dreamlike hill home. Those luscious blood walls have long been painted back to a conventional color, and this story isn’t actually about my fantastical crush come to life. Until him, I had loved truly and deeply in the best of relationships that hadn’t begun as crushes. He was one of many devastating crushes, but until him, none had carried over to real life in a meaningful, longterm way. The crucial element, however, is that when we met and my heart awoke each day aching, and ached still once we had one another, it proved to me that my reactions to situations, rather than the situations themselves, were the true cause of my torment.
In those days, the handyman not returning my call about reglazing the bathtub felt like a stomach punch not dissimilar to my love taking an hour to text back instead of the usual minute. I experienced all perceived rejection and censure the same way, be it getting honked at for cutting off another driver, or not booking a coveted acting role.
Did my false-alarm infatuations guess they could be my pet obsession, my latest form of self-torture, and still it was less about them than my attachment to an internal galactic conflagration? What it had always been about was my nature, an amphitheater where the actors shift but the stage is constant.
For me, suffering without a reason meant having the proportional capacity to feel great joy, the yin-yang of intense feeling, paradoxical in the same way really alive persons court death through daredevilry. If joy is renewal and renewal is born through destruction, well, birthing hurts.
Oh, but the birth.
It’s the first day on a trip in a brand new country; it’s laying eyes on that new love after a prolonged absence. Getting to know a crush is getting to know yourself all over again because everything you do and say becomes fresh.
And you know the tragic loss of childhood wonder, the loss that messed you up for life after you grew up? In those moments right before the first kiss, or as you touch a stone on an ancient Celtic castle, or watch the surreal glow of bioluminescent waves at night, that tragedy eases a bit, because life, stones, the veins of a leaf, brim with intoxicating, incomprehensible possibility.
Of course, for the too-earnest among us about love, the grandest of possibilities is a crush that could translate into enduring love.
A friend once asked me, “Do you want to stop suffering?”
I thought for a good hard minute.
I was the girl who wrote from the petal of a poppy. I floated in a drop of beautiful blood.
I finally said, “No.”
Not if it meant giving up my romance with pathos. And my capacity to perpetuate the moment before the first kiss.
≈ His Point of View ≈
Bitches be crazy.*
- Fearing pain can keep you from great joy.
- Joy and sorrow have more to do with internal perception than external circumstance.
*This piece was originally written in response to a Weekly Writing Challenge. The October 21 assignment was on point of view, hence inspiring “His Point of View.” The “phantasm” is a flesh-and-blood person who exists and remains my friend. While he probably doesn’t share “His Point of View,” many men the world over do.
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You really have a way to weave your words into a story. Though at times I felt like I was on the outside (not sure why), you brought me into the situation and made me reflect on my own experiences. (Though, to be fair, none of my fantastical crushes ever went anywhere… maybe one day?) These crushes have been a part of life and I wouldn’t change them for anything. And knowing things I know now, I do wonder if they would have been as wonderful as I once imagined or if it would have flamed to the floor.
It also made me wonder if this fantastical crush is still a massive part of your life? Or if this person was part of your life? Or if he’s real? A dream? That’s what I really like about this piece — it can be read in many different ways.
It’s easy to look forward to your posts. I just wish they came more than once a week!
I wish I could do this several times a week, already I don’t have time to sneeze…
P.S. – Yes, he is real and still part of my life.
Haha, his point of view is ON POINT. 🙂 Loved this. Thank you for sharing.
And thank you for reading!
My thoughts exactly. The man’s one.
But don’t forget who actually delivered “your” thoughts.
Fair is fair.
Sorry. By that I actually meant that women think about lots of things and we think about very little. I didn’t mean what the man said. Just the brevity.
I was completely kidding with you. You have nothing to be sorry about. You illustrated my whole point.
Don’t ever feel you can’t say what you want here.
And I laughed. I was being funny back, but in a hardass way…
Dang it! You totally tricked me! For this, you will pay a terrible price. I will get out my bitter sword of justice and fight you with your sarcastic sword of truth.
Let the battle begin. Actually, I’m too tired now. I’m going to go take a nap.
No, you tricked yourself, but you can blame me for the nap.
Well written. Your observational and descriptive skills are extraordinary. My opinion is that a great deal of the clash of concepts that you have delineated can be resolved with a “small” paradigm shift. I have to engage for a quick moment in full disclosure: I firmly believe that there is a higher intelligence. I am not particularly religious, although I certainly understand why some people are. To that end, one helpful idea from the Torah is that when two concepts are equally right and yet contradictory, there is a higher umbrella concept under which the two coexist.
For example: “…paradoxical in the way really alive persons court death through daredevilry.” Overarching concept is faith. Or to rephrase: “Really alive persons actualize their faith by appearing to court death through daredevilry.” Paradox is gone. Love – best definition I’ve seen (it’s a rough first cut but is workable) is from Socrates: “The desire to be one with.” Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that we “love” and yet “Love” also exists as well, completely outside of our creation. In other words, if there were no humans, Love would still exist. So, we are endowed with the ability to create love as a reflection of the universal “Love” that exists independent of us. If the overarching concept is the universal “Love” then when we cannot actualize our own love, we understand what we are missing. In other words, we feel a loss: pathos. That pathos is apparently contradictory to love and yet is clearly covered by (could not exist without) the universal “Love”.
As a side note – it has come to my attention (over the years) that that big concepts link together; to me another sign that there is a higher intelligence. For instance, if Love is defined as the desire to be one with – it is without a doubt one of the driving forces in our emotional existence. Yet, at the same time, Gravity can be defined exactly the same way, only applied to the physical world: all mass attracts (desires to be one with). It is a fundamental physical force that that allows the universe as we know it to exist, much as Love allows life to exist. Coincidence? I think not.
Oh, your child’s wide eyed wonder at the world? It is still there. I picture the “progression” of our lives not as a line along which we “progress”, but rather as the rings of a tree – everything you have ever been, done, accomplished, etc, is all still there inside of you as you grow “older” by adding layers like rings. It is possible to access – it is not “lost” to time or circumstances.
Thank you Gunmetal Geisha for getting me back to thinking again. Keep up the good work.
This is incredibly beautiful, what you’ve written, and I can’t argue with its truths.
As for the rings of the tree always within us, thank you, that is most comforting – not because it’s an artifice, but because it also, em, ‘rings’ true.
I have lots more to say to you, but I have to think about exactly how to communicate it.
Beautiful writing. Any comment I would attempt would not do it justice so I will just leave it with great, as ever.
“And still I say, give me unrequited love over requited apathy any day.”
Oh my good god. There were too many instances in reading this, where my heartbeat quickened and a smile of surprised understanding hit my lips. Too many quotes I could pull, which resonated. But the one above, most especially.
I’m only sorry I haven’t commented sooner. Your blog is a firm favourite, and how trite even this sounds, when what I mean is “Bloody hell, how wonderful to find someone else who understands the sensuality of language, the true aversion to peace and calm when we could have Passion, and oh yes, old friend Pathos.
These crushes. …They don’t inhibit the growth of love, as my mother has always insinuated (“get yourself a real man, stop daydreaming!”) Rather, they teach us more about ourselves. That part hit me hard, too – finding ourselves reborn through a new crush/lover. I’ve recently split from my long term partner. It was amicable, but we had run our course. I no longer looked to him for encouragement, inspiration or attention. It’s then that I know love is over.
My latest crush is a married man… aren’t they always. Sigh.
Beautiful and evocative writing. I feel inspired to do some of my own now.
I could only imagine the gorgeous turns you would take with this particular subject.
“Finding ourselves reborn through a new crush / lover” – yes. It’s much more about ourselves than the momentary ‘guest stars.’ We realize it each time we look back on particularly silly objects of longing…
Reblogged this on celenagaia and commented:
A blog entry that hit me hard in the heart, as all the best ones do. My affair with Pathos goes back a long way, to a daydream-childhood filled with crushes, into adulthood wherein my frustrated mother forever rags on about me finding The One.
What if I want fantasy? What if I prefer heartache; the fever of anticipation, as opposed to the darkness of reality, dreams met and turned sour?
And then again…frustration often has teeth.
This entry summed it up far better than I could.
First, thanks for reblogging it.
Second, “frustration often has teeth”: You’ve written an entire world right there, and I bet you and I know its every continent and body of water intimately.
Very much so. I mean to keep up with your blog in particular; it feels like a twin of mine. Wish you were on this side of the pond so we could talk properly over wine! As it is, your blog sparked my mind no end today; it was feeling a bit worn out, but I feel reinvigorated. Thank you, dear friend. I feel I can call you this, after a meeting of minds.
The mere mention of “wine” confirms it all to be true. And I’m proud to be called your friend, lovely friend of mine.
For a subject that has been written about so many times, reading about it here made it feel very new. But I suppose that’s exactly the point.
Thank you for this. It was a good, happy, misty way to start the day- particularly the day I get to fly home to my family.
Lovely, thank you. Enjoy your family.
Wonderful from start to finish … I feel you should be immensely proud of your work here, to make naked such thoughts and imagery is staggeringly impressive. I think it is true that the value in knowing another is in coming to understand your own truths, your own merits and flaws, and ultimately that understanding is (sometimes) as defined by loss as it is by acquisition. That has certainly been my experience. A fine, evocative piece … thanks for posting 🙂
Happy you read it and many thanks for your kind words!
Exquisite and evocative piece of writing that hooked me from beginning to end.
These lines are my favourite:
“But my poppy room was a pulse of blood, encased in glass and hovering over a watery world.”
“Imagine all that tension and pining to be a cosmos of suns and shooting stars sealed in a jar within you.”
“He was a phantasm that both dwelled within me and covered me. I was owned. Years later, what stands out to me from that crush and others similar to it, is the addictive quality of the pang in the heart, both stifling and irresistible.”
“I was the girl who wrote from the petal of a poppy. I floated in a drop of beautiful blood. ”
Personally, through my teens and 20s I did not experience life outside of my poppy room…now, I inhabit a whole house, but my poppy room is the heart of it.:)
Again, exquisite piece that evoked powerful memories, emotions and yearnings for me (as all great writing should). Bravo!
Thank you so much my dear!
You picked my favorite line – petal and blood.
I will have to find a picture of my poppy room and include it…
Please never stop suffering! Not if it means you stop writing and living and moving others to do the same. Beautiful piece!
Ha, I won’t! Not that I’ve ever explored whether or not I have a choice in the matter…
Beautifully written. Ah yes, the moment before that first kiss. The draining of blood, the human breakage that comes later…
Life without anticipation – somehow it just wouldn’t do…
“here are only three possible places to be when it comes to love: In its abundance, in its loss, or in its neutral absence. The third is the safest, sanest place to be. It’s also the most deadening.”
Dang. (That’s right- DANG.) Sometimes I read something that actually makes me a little bit uncomfortable and even a little bothered. This is one of those things. And then I have to dissect, rationalize, file away (it gets tedious) and make sense of my feelings. In this case, I know why it pricks my side: because it’s so true.
I just ended a 7 year relationship with my BFF boy/man (17 years my junior) who needed to go off and find his own life, wife, kids- etc. (Isn’t that nice?) Since then, I’ve dove head first into continual hours of academic research, pet grooming, and a flurry of household chores that won’t allow me the reflective time to stare too long into the looking glass. ;0) I’m too “busy”. I think you hit the nail firmly upon the head!
“Poppy” drew me in here (duh!) but yes, I’ve learned something.
Thanks for that. ;0)
Seems besides the INTJ / INFJ personality type we share a similar boy / man experience. 12 years my junior, 5-year relationship. If you ever look at my post “Dating for Martians,” let me know if anything sounds familiar.
I’ll be sure to check that out in a bit!
“As for attempting to get anything done while in the first stages of requited love, don’t bother.”
Preach it sister. I have a grin from ear to ear and I keep saying I’m going to write, but I’d rather breathe in the scent of her body for hours, let her back be the keys I compose my love upon, let her lips be my instrument, bury my mind in hers, and that is the art I am making right now.
Certainly sounds like art. Happy for you!
I adored this. That is all. You inspire me to be a better writer. 🙂