“Memory scratched at his closed eyes
And growled through his sleep;
But weeping was a year or so away.
Carefully he released the blinds,
And reaching for the cancer stick,
And puffed himself into the day.
Mornings, alone are always the same. We slip into routines, and there is no one there to interfere. H. M. standing by the window, sipping coffee, smoking his cigarette did a mental drift.
‘Love,’ he thought, ‘is essentially an interference, a moment by moment interruption’.
Easier to think about love than to do it. Maybe that’s why so many love songs are rhythmic pleas to be loved. That is where we all start isn’t it, born into loving arms. Our only requirement, at first, is to simply be the who and whatever that we are. Curiosity and excitement leave no room for expectations.
Growing up changes all of that. It may be fair to say that the essence of adolescence is discovering the reality and power of expectations, those we have of ourselves and others, and those that everyone else has of us.
One common confusion is that the almost overwhelming attraction we feel for someone new is love. For many of us, that confusion can last into middle age or longer.
We think about ideas that are central to our identity, but we rarely recognize that some of those idea are closer to confusions, and those confusions are also central to our identity.
For H.M. in his senior year in high school, romance, lust and love sang off key in his heart and mind and the tunes were central to who he wanted to be.
Romance and Lust are different from the day in and day out of loving. Either they are reciprocated, or they are rejected. If reciprocated, the satisfaction is mutual and immediate. The biggest questions are where to go for dinner, and after diner, where to go, your place or mine?
But love is a daily test of memory: did I do the dishes, did I remember what I was supposed to bring home from the grocery, is her birthday this Thursday or next, and what did I say we would do to celebrate?
At graduation from high school, after his sweet heart of the last two years explained she was going out of state to college, but she would “keep in touch,” she gave H.M. a book of poetry, she knew he would like.
Mid way through the book, he found this poem, read it over and over, and a year later, struggling to make sense of his freshman year, and all of the encounters, academic and intimate, he had it printed large and framed.
“Romance is Love’s adolescent sister.
She is the temptress that brings you
Knocking on the Family door.
‘Did you know she’s out wandering again?’
I ask the dour father of them all,
the progenitor of the three sisters
Whose pictures adorn the wall.
There she rests, a smiling innocent
And next comes Lust destroying thought
While finally, pushed to the corner where light is rare,
Resides poor Love, so often forgotten for the other two.
‘I thought they never left each other’s side,’ I say,
Surprised to see them seem so separate and alone.
‘They come and go just as they choose,’ he shrugged,
‘I have no say in what they do, nor would I care to hear
The stories that they tell each other
Late at night and over morning tea.’
‘Love looks forlorn and lonely,
Why is she the only one in tears?’
I puzzle, surprised to see the one most talked about
So distant form the others.
Their father laughs, an awkward laugh,
As if I were a child
Or a fool,
‘A question from one your age
Demands the answer you already know.’
He shrugs, and looks away,
Unable to hide his dismay.
’She is left with all the work
Her sisters refuse to do.’