The pitter-patter of a pubescent in a grown-up heart is magic. Give me unrequited love over requited apathy any day.
≈ Her Point of View ≈
I once had a little burgundy room, with 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 day came when rain poured violently, draining the trees and houses of color. But my poppy room was a pulse of blood, encased in glass and hovering over a watery world. It was a grand thing to sit in there 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 incapacitated me for weeks.
I had developed a mad, irrational, overnight crush in which I thought I saw signs everywhere that there was a reason for it, something right about it, even if the ‘sign’ was simply matching phone digits.
The pitter-patter of a pubescent in a grown-up heart is magic.
The sweet ache of that crush, the burning in the style of old verse, syncopated to my every second. It spun within the air molecules I breathed. I was mercilessly in tune to words, songs, birds, a delicious breeze. And it wasn’t the first time.
I know it’s not difficult to fall in love because I’ve thrown myself off that cliff more than a handful of times. The ride through the air is human flight as the crash is human breakage. And it’s okay.
The way I see it, there 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. I recommend it only if you have important work to do, such as figuring out cold fusion or finishing a novel.
Actually, just cold fusion, because you’d surely write your best novel while residing within the loss of love — assuming you’re capable of writing through your personal human 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 more attention than 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 first stages 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. I couldn’t help it.
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.
And still I say, give me unrequited love over requited apathy any day.
Imagine all that tension and pining to be a cosmos of suns and shooting stars sealed in a jar within you.
Now, flash forward to the moment just before the first kiss.
You are face to face with the object of such universe of longing. That moment of culmination, the still micro-instant before the galactic combustion of your cells meeting for the first time, makes all torment over love worth it for me.
I would spend a lifetime prolonging the moment before the first kiss — or all first kisses — if love itself didn’t run the show.
My phantasm and I ended up together.
It’s rare for anyone’s fantastical crushes to lead to real relationships. My theory is, 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.
Call it fluke or cosmic meaning, but in spite of warning that such consuming fires burn out quickly, he and I remained together for a good many years. We continued to burn for one another even after pedestrian dysfunction led to our relationship’s demise.
Until him, I had loved truly and deeply in the best of relationships that had not begun as crushes. And as far as crushes, he was one devastating out of many. Yet, he was also the only one who carried over to real life.
It was during that time when it dawned on me that my reactions to situations, rather than the situations themselves, were the actual cause of my torment.
In those days, the handyman not returning my call about re-glazing the bathtub felt like a strike to my body not dissimilar to my crush 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 devastating false alarms and sundry untouchables guess they could be my pet obsession and latest form of self-torture, and still, it was less about them than my attachment to my internal jar of conflagration?
Suffering (for no apparent reason) for me 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 birth.
It’s the first day on a trip in a brand new country; it’s laying eyes on that new crush. Getting to know a crush is like getting to know yourself all over again because everything you say and do is fresh.
And you know your tragic loss of a child’s wonder that messed you up for life when you grew up? In those moments right before the first kiss, or right as you’re about to touch a stone on a Celtic castle, that tragedy eases a bit, because life, stones, the veins of a leaf, brim with intoxicating, incomprehensible possibility.
Of course, the grandest of all possibilities is the crush that translates 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 ability 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 dear friend. While he probably doesn’t share “His Point of View,” many men the world over do.
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