It would be easier to talk right now than to write. I don’t want to write, I want to smoke cloves and drink beer and fade a little bit. I want to do nothing, become invisible and be entertained at the same time. I most certainly do not want to fall. Not off a cliff, not into my glass of Classic, and definitely not in love.
Can I say, right here and right now, that I’m tired of love? Love is a bitch.
No, love is a sickness, a virus, a dis-ease. And love makes us her bitch, until we’re whimpering sick on a street corner trying to decide which way we should turn. Go that way, and we might just impress our template a little more firmly on another’s psyche. Go the other way and go home and wake up relieved that we did.
Love is the sickness destroying our current world. Not that dying by heart-felt emotion is anything new. Ask that ancient Greek, or some or other Rumi, or romantic-era poet, and they’ll tell you everything you need to know about dying and wasting away because they never got to do that nymph, or that hijab-headed girl, or that corseted debutant who paraded her virginity across all of London in that otherwise wonderful season of glory. Ask them, they can give you the code, the way to perfect a distinctly haunted visage and that certain crumpled gait a true victim of amore should adopt.
They’ll tell you how to be sure to refrain from any direct mention of your affliction. It should always instead be up to your immediate society to declare in sure whispers amongst themselves that you are dying of a broken heart. You yourself are to possibly admit to a mild cold, hint at untempered humors, or suggest that all you need is a bit more rest, and possibly a nice extended holiday at some relaxing seaside resort. Your family, though, if you are from a pre-modern era, is obliged to let the neighbors and the county know that you are wasting away from unrequited love. And though they may offer you tea and even a weekend away at their country home or estate, they are more than happy in some twisted way to let you die of your affliction. You’ll be the sacrifice to the gods. And if you pass unto the heavens for having opened your heart to that certain beauty, boy or girl, woman or man, it means the heavens will be appeased for that season, and your neighbor or cousin won’t have to give up their own ghost for that same raw passionate longing, so similar to yours.
Ask a poet or a madman or some ancient beautiful prince or princess what it feels like to lust over the milkmaid, or the shepherd, and to never be able to have them. To be stopped at every turn in a time of slow-posted mail, delivered by clipper ship and weary nag, letters written by desperate candlelight, laden with saline tears and heavy black ink, in fervored script, slow in places and rushed in others where the passion flowed freely before despondency set in. The weeks wondering where your letter has gone, and if your beloved will ever even see it. The wonder and the mercy! A storm could set in and capsize that ship, the vessel guarding everything you’ve ever felt was real in this now-blighted and barren earth, this planet you are forced to inhabit without your truest darling by your constant side. It could get wet, your sweet dear words of love drowned in a torrent sent down by a jealous god, filling the mail pouch and turning the hand-made, perfume-scented paper back into pulp, now greyed by the very ink you dipped your most-perfect feather quill into so sensuously with your ardent heart. Months may pass. Ask a poet or an actual classical-era lover how it really feels to know nothing, and for so very long. A year might go by, or two, and a reply might never come. Ask them how it feels to be in love, and how it feels to die of a truly broken heart.
We know nothing of love. And I think, personally, that I’m done with it, or tired of it. I can’t honestly compete with millennia of deep and dire want, me with my instant fixology, and my need-to-know attitude. Color me modern, but we’re sick with it, aren’t we. Sick with the lust and the flirt and the want and the need and the ego-laden business and the drive to know anything, anything, outside of ourselves. We want to touch anything, we want everything and we don’t really want to have to pay a single blessed emotional cent for any of it. And we call ourselves lovers and say that we’re in love. But fuck if we’re willing to die for the length of even one Sunday evening for that person who’s commanded our attention. In a me world, all I have to do is claim detachment to be able to avoid having to actually experience love the way our ancestors did. I can be in the now, and you can’t stop me. That’s how it goes down in our new world.
Love isn’t, love is not a thing. It’s not the same thing it used to be. It isn’t living and it isn’t dying and it isn’t creating and it isn’t forgetting or remembering some lifetime long ago when we were so small and we were as big as the universe. Love now is a hunger, and barely that. It’s an addiction, an additive, it’s emotional msg, it’s crack and we try so incompetently to manage our voracious needs.
Years ago I longed for a person so deeply that I thought I would die from the depth of it. But I didn’t die. I lived and I lived and days passed, and I did stupid things to prove to myself and to this certain person that what I felt was real. But it faded, and all my idiocy was nothing more than fluff and action in a vapid world. All I wanted was the high. All I wanted was to feel. To feel anything at all. Instead of cutting, I scored my soul with thoughts of what should have, might have, could have been. I imagined this person to be perfect in all of his failings, his faults were my challenge, his neglect my personal grand canyon to ford. I was up for the game. At least that’s what I thought.
Oh I died a little death at the tail end of it all, some part of me wilted and maybe a branch of my ego withered and fell off, but I lived. I lived and I still live and I’m still here and that episode only served to prune me into neater topiary. Love isn’t anything, and when you or you or you creates some drama after having laid with that girl or that girl or me, or some fuss about lusting after the glory of our foliage, I can only smile and tell you to wait, because time will show you that none of it matters. We are not 18th century poets, we are not the demi-gods of classical times, we don’t die from some or any one specific love and we don’t even really live for it either. It occurs, some feeling, and then it eventually goes away. I promise.
So don’t expect me to honor your trauma at having crushed on me once long ago then given up. I can’t care anymore. It has nothing to do with me. Please don’t ask me to avoid you, or be responsible for pushing you away when your drunken lusts are exposed. Don't make it mine to have to not answer your call on your lonely late nights. In this little city of ours you’re going to have to accept that you splayed out your feelings and that I witnessed them. And accept as well that after you moved on to your next human-shaped drug I channeled my inner now and took us back again to where we once were - furniture on the sets of each other’s lives, extras in our crowd scenes, flora in the gardens of our existence, the wallpaper you were before you took my hand and told me you could never live without me. There is no love anymore. Your deep longing was the same deep longing that we all feel when our hearts are empty, our addictions unmet. We're seekers and dreamers, hoping someone will fill the gaping holes in our souls. And I wanted to be, in all honesty, that girl, that woman, who you would die for, die while waiting for that letter from me that never arrived...
I've everything I could possibly have done, I’ve smiled at the ridiculousness and laughed in all the right places. I’ve made you all feel comfortable in my presence, even while you've felt the need to look down at your shoes or look the other way. I’ve let you adore me from very far away, from across grand vistas, and over vast seas. I’ve done it all. I’ve read your letters, tasted your silences, let you scent my nearness, touch my arm, whisper your words, gaze into my eyes, and of course rebuke me when the time comes. And I’ve so politely understood how you feel, what you need to do, and I've told you I’ll care for you forever, always, anyway. And as I walked slowly away, I've known in my heart the real secret to those words: forever can’t exist in our new world, and just as quickly as you appeared, you’ll fade away.
So let me be me, and let me not love you in return. I don’t want to love you. I want to bypass causality and never ask that ruthless question why. I don’t want to pine for you or cater to your emotional detox or know that in months or years or in another lifetime you’ll cast a longing gaze my way and try to recall why you ever gave us up. I just want to remember how it was to see you look at me with all that beginner’s longing, and I want to go to sleep at night recalling the wonder of the first time we kissed.
There’s not much more to say or do than that. We live in a fantasticality that doesn’t admit the eternal, and it’s almost illegal to emo your way through the long and lonely days of unrequited passions, or of a broken heart. Follow your desire to the ends of the earth like our old poets did and you’ll be called a stalker, cry too many tears or wait it out too long, and you’ll be deemed to need meds.
Walk your path, and let me walk mine. Because mine does not include wondering how you feel at the end of it all, or taking care of your delicate emotions while you ponder if I’m the right thing for you or not. That’s your deal. I’m here doing what I do, and doing it well. I’m here to take up space and be alive and maybe let you kiss me and maybe not. If I do, and if you decide, later, that you’ve had enough and you need no more from me, then do that. And know that I’ll keep on doing me, being me, perfecting me, and you can’t stop the flow. I don’t need you or you or you to hold me. Or dote, or admire, or adore. This is my life, my fiction, all my truths. I’m unbeholden. And though I might die from any number of things, in this new world I most certainly will not die from or for romantic love.
© Maria Alva Roff. February 14, 2014
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