I don’t know why, and sometimes I wish I do. About why sometimes the searing feeling finds no outlet through words. How do you even say that—the right way, at least? Yet all the Twitter profiles and Facebook pages proclaim it loudly and clearly: I want to be a half of a whole. Perhaps, also—I want that, right now.
So here’s the question that Hamlet never asked but my girlfriends sure do: How do people even—?
What an excellent question, complete and perfect in its ambiguities, its negative spaces. The feelings which wrap in and around the sounds and visualized letters are right, because, how on earth do people even fall in love? Or pursue the soul of their choice? Or know what it is if all you base it on is Chopin’s Nocturne no. 2 in E flat major, or the way Hemingway writes, or the way you think Van Gogh must have handled his oil brush? Or worse—what if none of the above? And the terrifying void of the next decade faces you like it revealed itself to Nick Carraway, taunting and mocking: You’re never going to fall in love. You don’t even know what it is.
Not true—and don’t blame it on angst. We blame enough on it already. But let me tell you something about that feeling in your chest which, like premature butterflies, seeks the nectar of unripe flowers and bright red rain pails. The sudden numbness in your shaking arms down to your wrists—the fingers which want to be unexpectedly caught. Yes, we all know it. In our bones. That’s the first thing I want to say.
Let me tell you, again, about that innate desire in your ribcage which wants to be loved. And here’s the second thing that I can tell you about it: it’s a four-dimensional concept which demands not to be fully or physically grasped. It is an ever-evolving part of the soul which desires elaboration, specificity, and constant exploration. Because the more you know of your insides, the more you know of what you are, of what you want. And who wants you.
As for me? I want to be best friends with a man who will mimic Al Green with me (albeit poorly) in the light hours of the night, who will read Nietzsche with me when outside the summer is pouring rain. Who will love Jesus with me. Who will support my career in law and diplomacy. A man who doesn’t object to my drinking of Earl Grey tea even though, like the UMichigan dad in Starbucks confirmed, it is most definitely an old people’s beverage.
So then we can read Albert Camus together, and catch red maple leaves in our bare hands when the autumn just starts to crystallize. Let’s sit on the edge of an interstate where the Tarmac is laid bare, naked, and pale from toll-free driving, where our feet can feel the earth deep beneath and around us. Dancing is alright with me, too. Will you agree with me that train stations are an integral part of the romanticism of train rides? Or that stars are more seductive than anything else you’ve ever seen? And let me know when my asyndeton is bordering on excessive.
Let us dance on our wooden deck to Chopin and feign we are waltzing on white marble above a Rue de Romance in Paris. Then let’s actually go to Paris, drink bitter coffee in an upstairs café where Ernest Hemingway sojourned, and let’s not leave our love in a metal lock bound to iron wires—no, but left out in the open air where we can see it and feel it on our skin.
I want a best friend. A life partner. A someone who will thumb my right eyelid which is slightly smaller than my left, who will take these small hands and trace the callouses left by callous late-night violin playing; someone who, through all the marital rashes which grow insidiously on the soft parts of the body, and all of the April showers which somehow last through September, will say, with me, “That’s quite alright. That’s quite alright with me.”