Tuesday, 7 February 2012

What is Being in Love Like?

The other day, somebody asked me what love feels like. Nobody could give her an answer.

Well, I gave her an answer, let me tell you. In hindsight, I might have added the caveat that this is what love is like for me. But, on the other hand, I have read about other women--even elderly, married-for-40-years, women--feeling this way, so my answer might hold some value.

By the way, before you read this, I must emphasize that this is a situation in which love is returned and proven. You know how I always say I don't believe in men's pretty words because I believe only in men's pretty diamonds? Keep that in mind. Men can say anything; it's when they cough up more than they can afford on something highly symbolic that I would pay serious attention. (Having no money, B.A. originally gave me his most prized possession, his grandfather's gold pocket watch.)

"Love," I said, "is when you hate being on the wrong side of the ocean from someone because you are haunted by the fear that you might not be able to get back on the right side, or that he might not be able to get back to you. Love is when you have conniption-fits because you are haunted by dread that you might not actually be able to marry each other after all because his plane might crash on the way, or you might be hit by a car, and the thought makes you cry and cry. Which is totally irrational, but that is what love is like."

"Love is also when you are sitting in your parents' house across the ocean for a month waiting for your temporary Spousal Visa, and you cry every day because you are on this side of the ocean and he is on that side of the ocean, and what if a volcano blows up and you can't get back? And it hurts and hurts and it sucks but that is the price you pay for love and it is worth it."

Love is also when you cannot believe your luck, and you hope you don't blow it by doing something egregiously stupid that you would normally never do, but fear you might do, like when you see the fire alarm in the subway station with the sign that says "$1000 Fine or Imprisonment for Misuse".

Love is also being happy most of the time you are around the beloved. When you are truly in love, you love almost everything about the beloved, including his country and his family and his friends and his ties and everything that reminds you of him, and because you are surrounded by all these reminders, you are generally very happy, and people feel happy around you because your happiness leaks out by osmosis.

I recognize that this is a lot for the Single readers to take on board, but I am writing it out for you to read because our societies are so in love with love that we are willing to take a chance on counterfeits and squint intellectually, or take off our emotional glasses, so that the counterfeit SEEMS like what I have just described. We WANT to be in love, so we IMAGINE ourselves into it, and when we feel terrible because the man we are "in love" with is a jerk, we rationalize that by saying "Well, love is pain."

But love is only pain when you are separated from the beloved, not when you are around him, unless he is very ill or dying, and then what makes you feel so bad is that he is in pain and also the fear of ultimate separation. Love is also an elderly lady sitting by her dying, comatose husband rubbing gel on his toothless gums so that they don't dry out as he drags in his last breaths. (I witnessed that myself, and it was the greatest exemplar of married love I ever saw.)

I'm writing all this so that you don't rip yourselves off by settling for, or actually pursuing, the fake instead of waiting for the real. I don't know how helpful it is, but I hope it is at least a clue. As I said to the girl who asked, I give out all this advice and write this blog not to get people together but to prevent divorce. And heartbreak, I'll add now. Cynicism. Jadedness. The slow hardening of heart and soul that too many shocking disappointments can bring.


Irenaeus G. Saintonge said...

Do you think that men and women experience love differently?

Seraphic said...

That is a very difficult question. However, it is one of the great themes of the literature of about every country I can think of, so there are a lot of places you can read about this question. One book that comes to mind is Jane Austen's "Persuasion."

If it's any help, B.A. basically stopped eating when I first left Scotland and was as thin as a twig on his wedding day. We were CRAZY.

Irenaeus G. Saintonge said...

I liked Persuasion! First Jane Austen I ever read. Unfortunately that Kiera Knightley version of Pride and Prejudice turned me off of her stuff for a long time. I was happy to find out it was a lot better than they let on.

When I was reading to your entry, I think to myself that everything you said sounded true enough, but it didn't really strike me to the point that I would go "yeah, that's just like me!" But then I thought about it a bit more, and it does sound a lot more like my fiancee.
Actually reading it again, some of it describes me pretty well also, so I think it's about a 50-50 split.

Anyway, just got me thinking. :)

healthily sanguine said...

Not really on topic (well, perhaps obliquely), but I heard that they are making a new Anna Karenina movie starring none other than Keira Knightley . . . God help us.

ceciliamschwartz said...

I fell in love this past summer and realized that I had been duped and blinded in the past by what I thought love was. Thankfully I was able to recognize that K was different. He swept me off my feet and I learned what true love is.

Auntie, I am ever-so grateful for you and your honest blog posts about the dangers of crushes and misinterpreting friendships, and hopeful encouragement. I hadn’t realized how jaded I had become, but you helped give me perspective. Without that, I may have missed K altogether! So, thanks!

Sundancer said...

My grandparents have been married for 70 odd years. I came to visit them in the nursing home after my grandpa had had a fall, and witnessed my grandmother sitting by his bedside as he slept, stroking his head. I think that kind of love is worth waiting for. :)