I suppose everything has been said about love that needs to be said, and quite a lot has been said that really should have been left unspoken. Love has become kitsch and hokey, folksy and much maligned by everything from disco to chicklit. Love is a tragi-comic figure at this stage in the game, but still its old grandeur remains, decaying in the rose garden of Aphrodite, behind crumbling walls and broken fountains, cracked paths and unweeded beds.
Let’s say I have been playing in the rose garden for a while now, seeing what I can dredge up from the depths of its shabby glory, what can be dug up in unturned soil, what can be clipped and returned to the page or the strings of my guitar. There are worse things to do with time than do a little rose gardening, but I cannot think of them right now: I have a love-hate relationship with the Garden. All manner of things that slide on their bellies and crawl on shortened limbs creep around in the undergrowth and hide under the film of green algae that sits on the stagnant pools, and these things can distract and destroy with a glance in my direction.
But enough of the perils of the garden, back to the business in hand: Love. Is a love holding your hand worth two loves hiding in the bushes of the garden? It depends on the quality of the love in question. Love is not free, and there is not nearly enough of it to go around.
They say nothing can be destroyed, only transformed, so what happens to love once it is broken by death, separation, conflict, distance or circumstance? Love turns easily enough into resentment or hatred: that red hot burn of infatuation flips over to reveal a dangerous poisonous fiery underbelly almost as fast as it forms. But true love, broken only by some insurmountable separation? What then? What does it become? Some remains as love, only crystalized in memory, photographs, objects and places. Some of it becomes pain, sharper than any thorn.
A little of it surely becomes sadness. Some turns into anger. How can happiness and that easy companionship, all that is good and sweet and marries up so well, ripped away not hurt? Love is wearing your heart outside your body and giving it to another to take care of. Sometimes they are not so careful with that tender bloody lump of gristle and affection. Sometimes they let it get hurt, batter it around, to get injured by the various arrows, shopping bags, busy people and maddening crowds. How rare it is to find someone who cares for another’s heart as if it were their own. Like Jesus and the Mary Chain once sang
“‘Cause hearts are the easiest things you could break.”Candy Talking, Jesus and the Mary Chain
That is the real Candy Talking, love is the real sweetly addictive stuff that we will go to the ends of the earth to procure and keep safely away from the pigs who do not appreciate love, or addiction to things which feel good and serve only to make us lovers feel sick and ill and jonesing for some of that real love, not fake, not pretend, not lust and obsession masquerading as love, but that pure kick. “I want stuff!” sing that 80s goth band with 90s pretentions. We all want the good stuff, the kind stuff, the gentle stuff, the passionate stuff, the wonderous stuff…that love stuff.
Longing and denial of desire and need for love are not easy to live with. I finally accepted that for me I will never have that love stuff that lasts. For me it has been fleeting and the only real love I have ever had which lasted is the love for my children, which burns eternal. But it is not the same, is it? Now it is all too late for me. Better to have loved and lost than never loved at all? Perhaps. I honestly don’t believe I have ever truly been loved by someone else in a romantic way. Perhaps I don’t understand love at all. Maybe there is something missing in me, lost or on the losing side. Maybe it just is not for me. Perhaps I have some kind of soul-stain which stops me from finding a mutual love. Who knows. I looked for it all over, in the right places and the wrong ones, and never really found what I was looking for.
I spent Pride weekend in San Francisco looking at the sweet faces of people in love with each other, sharing drinks, sharing laughs, sharing smiles, sharing food…sharing each other and I felt a detached pang of joy for them. How much time has got away from me. How long did I spend trying to love a man when I knew from the very start that was not how I swung. I often think that if my first girlfriend had not died so traumatically and early that I would have got the whole thing figured out faster. As it was I went into a self destructive tail spin and instead reached for a ‘normality’ that I figured would be less painful to me. Oh how I was wrong! Better cope with the judgement and mocking disapproval of bigots than to have a life half lived without love.
I am too tired for any of it anyway now. Love is a past possibility. Now all I have energy for is to love my Boy while I am still here, and think wistfully about what could have been if only I had managed to glean a fragment of lucky-in-love happiness when there was still time.
Where does all that love go? Where do all the possibilities fly to? Does it fly up into the ether to disappear in the clouds only to rain down on other people and their young lives not yet lived out? Does it remain somewhere in solid form? Is it reborn with a soul or does it fly away like dandelion seeds in the wind, looking for somewhere less rocky to plant itself and grow? I don’t know. I never did.
But I do know this…love is love and it is not worth fighting against nor pushing away if you are ever lucky enough for it to knock on your door with the good news that your soul mate is just around the corner looking for a light in your eyes that is just for them.