Some Thoughts About Love
Friendship is the truest kind of love I've ever found. It is with my closest friends that I have had my great adventures and found strength and camaraderie enough to follow another human to any moon they needed to reach, if they should ask me. It is my friends who make me feel the fiercest and the gentlest and they are the reason I want to write reams of flowering couplets or ascending prose about loyalty and endurance and magic.
Sometimes though, with the flash of the perseids has come something else. The first time, it split my heart open like a tree struck by lightning and I bled tenderness as rich as sap for someone who carried a dozen mirrors in their pockets, each one reflecting a different face when they dared to look into it. They were broken in a way that meant getting close to them was guaranteed to get me cut but they were still wonderful. Loving them was painful and the love and pain intertwined until they couldn't be separated, and when that happens, love, which is so much stronger and braver, refuses to surrender. It twines itself tighter.
So, it was there I learnt the first lesson of my romantic voyage; you can't always stop loving someone before you leave them. There comes a moment when you have to choose between the possibility another person might change and the certainty that how things are with them, now, is not going to make you happy. You have to be willing to break your own heart cleanly by walking away, rather than letting it fracture badly over a longer time, leaving you with more pieces to heal.
You love again. You always love again, and I did. This time I never told him because I thought he likely didn't feel the same, and so it lived in me like an ocean; sometimes calm and beautiful enough to sail boats on, sometimes terrifying and strange and lost, like a storm and I was a small ship facing it, without the sight of any lighthouse.
My thoughts kept him with me always. The neurons in my brain firing with the light of his existence. His name resting close to me, on the tip of my tongue. My own being a compass pointing in his direction. I had never loved like that; with that dedication and that hopelessness, with that desperation for the merest flickering of the idea it might be requited. I learnt my best lessons there. I learnt that loving a good human has enormous value, regardless of what they offer you in return.
I'm not sure you ever entirely stop loving anyone you've felt about deeply but the feeling can change. It finds its new place, like a puzzle piece in your bigger picture. My love for him shifted again, back to friendship. Before it did though, I got angry. Angry and insecure. It gnawed at me like a hungry dragon, feasting on my liver. I felt as tiny as a seed blown from a dandelion clock. I felt the sting that only comes when the person you want most of all, doesn't seem to want you back. And I am grateful for it. It made me more compassionate. It made me more honest with myself, and it made me realise, too, that love is blindfolded and drunk and picking names from a hat. Sometimes you get lucky but you don't get to choose whether you fall for them, and they don't choose whether they fall for you either. Your names are chosen together, or they aren't, and you have to accept it. It isn't about if you are good enough or lovely enough. It's about whether a curious alchemy between you turns the straw to gold or it does not.
He told me he loved me, then. When I understood that. He didn't mean he loved me in a way that would cover our path with rose petals. He meant as a person. He loved who I am, and that mattered. I read those three words and I cried with the relief of being important to the person who had become as close to me as the breath in my own lungs. I let myself have those tears, I was glad, and then I finally let go of the tangled thorns I had still been holding too tightly in my grasp.
It felt exquisite.
I loved again, because we always do.
Sometimes, we get to keep the glory we find and other times we are asked to love lightly, because we are only borrowing. That kind of love is like a library book we can savour as we read it cover to cover or a sparkling diamond necklace we are loaned for a trip to the opera. We are given a series of moments our minds can scrapbook tenderly, spent with someone we may have to let go of. Not necessarily because we don't want to hold on, but because we can see the shape of the future forming clearly, like pictures in the clouds, in the bright blue sky above us.
But all the time, the love that remains with us is the most powerful of all. This is why I believe it is the bonds of friendship that carry and sustain us. They are nourishimg and necessary, and they make us stand tall enough to face whatever comes.
Love might be tipsy when it tries to pick you a mate, but when it chooses your real friends, it does so sober. It does so on its best day, when it remembers what you like and what matters to you, and what kind of people you need to call your own. The ones you would walk through fire for. The ones you recognise as home.
And maybe one day you find a kiss that makes the stars look like they aren't even trying to shine, because you have discovered a romance which burns brighter than anything you've ever seen before, but even such a grand love must contain friendship, because friendship is the beginning of everything that matters.