Love is Old, Love is New, Love is All, Love is You
“You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.”
― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
I dreamt of autumn last night. I felt it rush in like a thousand winds on a single wing and my soul was refreshed. My dreams aren’t always that eloquent- not hardly.
Lately my dreams have seemed a collaborative mess between my psyche and my heart. They have been fueled of course by events in the world, in my own life and the heat- the ridiculous scalding dry dust bath that is central Texas in high summer.
A few Fridays ago the owner of the company I work for was disgruntled with me, and rightly so. There was no error on my part, more a sin of omission, but I had not been entirely forthcoming in the omission and there were cross words and hurt feelings (on both parts) and I almost cried. (I know, again with the crying…) But she and I are friends and have never been sideways and I regretted the incident deeply.
I told the Cajun I was having an unreasonably bad day at work. He immediately answered and was appropriately caring in his response, but also added, “It’s the heat- it’s making everyone testy.”
I wish I could wrap the events of the last few days, weeks, months, years…into a tidy bundle and place ‘blame’ on the weather. If perhaps the global warming some of us decry was actually bleeding over into our actual lives then we have a reason for all the bad behavior. It’s too bad that‘s really not a “thing”.
I don’t really want to have a ‘gun’ debate or a ‘mental health’ debate or a ‘political’ debate about the state of our union or the upcoming shit show that will be our presidential election. I kind of just want to tell you, dear readers, how I feel.
One of my best friends Karen always tells me I am brave; when I ask her to clarify what she means, she says I “live my life on my own terms”. I usually self-deprecate and tell her she is mistaken. I mean, ‘my terms’ is a fair stretch. This is not the life I’d have chosen if there was a giant Life vending machine. (Wouldn’t that be awesome?)
I would have picked the one where I was always tanned and toned and skinny. The one where I never had to worry about eating the doughnut or the filet with the béarnaise (or the vat of homemade peach ice cream I consumed last night around the witching hour).
I would have a fat bank account- not only so I could pay my bills without getting physically ill, but also so I could always provide for my boys and spoil them a little. This bank account would allow me to travel and set up charitable foundations and live on the beach or in the mountains- or both. It would provide enough money for me to pay for the boys’ schooling and attend seminary myself without the Bishop’s approval; if for no other reason than for me to get my masters and then PhD in Divinity or Theology or Philosophy- or maybe all three.
I would pick the one where the man I love loves me unconditionally and worships me for the intellectual, intelligent goddess I am. He would laugh at my jokes and write me poetry and let me have all the dogs I wanted.
About now is when my friend Patty would appear and say (while clapping her hands loudly), “STOP. IT.”
One of my great loves passed away recently; Thomas George Maurer, (T.G. or George as he will always be affectionately known by me). He died from complications arising from a routine gall bladder surgery. We weren’t together any substantial length of time and yet, the love I felt for him was never defined by a number. He was such a good person and he was always so beautiful to me.
His death stunned me. Drew dying almost exactly a year before and then George- I’ll tell you what… I’m glad my heart is my strongest muscle because I’m not sure how much more I can take.
Death is kind of this crazy conundrum. When you believe like I do, that there is a God and a Heaven (whatever that looks like for each of us), then it really shouldn’t be a sad state of affairs but rather a celebration- a giant bonfire with all your closest people and a cooler full of your favorite beer on the perfect autumn evening. Even so, I find his death reminds me of where I am in my life and perhaps more importantly, where I’d like to be.
There is an urgency (for me) that sets in after someone dies- a very real alarm that I have let people go without letting them know they mattered to me and why. I generally try to stay on top of the things I am grateful for and my thanksgivings, but not always. Frankly, does it hurt to allow for extra heaping portions when you feel them arise inside you? I think not.
Sometimes it stuns or embarrasses those I am telling how much they mean to me, but most all the people who I am close to in my life have adjusted to my outbursts of adoration.
For awhile now I have been uncharacteristically holding in check my feelings for the Cajun. Now when I say this, it does not mean I have not let him know that he is loved and admired. Simply put, it means I have not told him I am “in” love with him.
Every article you read (and yes, regrettably, I have read a few) says you must never tell a man you love him first and certainly not until a certain amount of time has passed or whatever the ‘rule of the month’ may be. Well, George’s death lit a fire in me. Actually, that’s not entirely true. The fire was ignited one winter long ago when the Cajun topped the stairs and looked at me and has been a slow burn for years now, with George’s passing simply fanning the flames.
I think back to Karen’s words. As much as I want to say she is wrong, she’s not. I DO live my life on my own terms- where I am able anyway. I have been carrying around these feelings for the Cajun in my belly like a stove overflowing with burning hot coals for long enough.
So, in a last nod to George and the way he lived his life out loud, last Tuesday I told the Cajun exactly how I feel and why. I mean, I really vomited it out. (Those of you who know me, can imagine…) There was talk of seeing the world in his eyes and my heart singing and hell, I threw in clown cars and fireworks just for fun. I left nothing to chance either- not a shred of doubt as to what I meant.
I did not tell him these things to elicit a response, or issue some hard-line ultimatum (or to scare the holy hell out of him either). In fact, I did not say them hoping for any kind of action at all. I told him how I felt because he deserved to know.
When someone makes you see the whole universe when you look upon their face, aren’t you bound to tell them? Don’t you sort of throw caution to the wind understanding the magnitude of how you feel requires the person who makes you feel that way aware that in his (or her) life they have made another human feel so close to what God wants us to know of love?
I know that is a heavy burden and kind of a weighty statement, but honestly, I just had to let him know.
When you fall in love with someone it can be lightening quick or develop slowly over time. I’m struck by the memory of taking a Polaroid picture and waiting for what seemed like eternity for it to develop as I fanned it and blew gently waiting for the images to appear.
I knew I loved the Cajun the moment I saw him. It was as if my soul was saying ‘hello’ to a dear old friend. I don’t really know what you might believe about reincarnation or not, but there is no doubt that I have known him much longer than my forty-five years. Haven Kimmel said in a favorite book, ‘There are people in this world so perfect that the fact of them feels like a personal gift.’ That’s the Cajun.
Here’s where it might get tricky for you. I have not heard a word in response. Now this makes most of my best girlfriends, my sister and my sons (to mention just a few), want to throttle the Cajun and send him packing (in lead-weighted boots) back to the bayou.
There was (I confess) a moment however brief, when I hoped for a bunch of wildflowers tied with twine and a shy smiling face standing before me at the threshold when I opened the door. The sun set and rose on the next day and I found myself happy with the decision I had made and unequivocally certain I had done the right thing. Regrets are for things lost or unattained. Neither of those applies. The love I have remains and so it is that I have been blessed to know it.
Here’s the thing: when did love become something that necessitates a reaction or an answer or even a mirror image for the giver? When did we become so unsure of ourselves and frightened of our own feelings that we must have them validated for them to be true or meaningful? If you are putting love out in the world in the hope of being loved in return, well you’re sort of missing the point.
Why can’t we just love- pure and simple; unadulterated by what society deems we should do with who and what and how we love? Oh, that’s right. We CAN; and I for one, will. (This doesn’t mean that I don’t trust that in my life others will love me, it simply means I am not dependent on it.)
Honestly, I don’t choose who I love; I love everyone- even the people I don’t like very much. Everyone is deserving of love and if we let loose with more of the unconditional love Jesus so freely gave away during his brief time here the world would be a much better place.
What if when people mattered to us we just told them? What if we didn’t wait to let those we love know how much we love them and why? What if we knew that telling the teller at the bank her haircut looks fantastic was as good a form of love as any? Or that saying thank you to the trash collector and taking him an ice cold glass of water was a way of saying, ‘I love you’ too?
What if when we felt love we let it out and gave it life and voice and purpose in the world instead of wondering what the outcome or the response would be or depended on the reciprocity? What if we just gave it away..?
What if we quit letting barriers and beliefs and bogus ideals about what love should look like dictate who we love? I’ll tell you what. We’d see a whole lot more faces that looked like Christ’s than strangers or suspects. The reservoir of our hearts would be overflowing and the universe would breathe a sigh of respite and relief.
Now you know why I told him I loved him. Now you know why I love you too. And if ever there should come a day when you doubt it, just ask me- I’ll tell you.