Kem said it. I love the song and grooved to it, but I didn’t think twice about the words. I love to listen to love songs and think, man if that was only true. How could a man feel so deeply about you that they would write a song about how much they love you. How could a man desire you for more than a fling or a heated, lustful encounter? I realized that even after almost ten years of marriage, I didn’t believe in true Love. I didn’t think it was possible for an unquenchable yearning and everlasting love to live within the hearts and soul of a man. I grew up learning that men were only out for themselves, that all they wanted was sex and that they would always leave you for another woman. I believed that deep, passionate love was only acted out on television or written in love songs. I knew the people in the movies were acting and I believed the songwriters and performers were only writing what they felt the listener wanted to hear or whatever would sell. I didn’t have to hide from love because I didn’t see any evidence of its true existence.
I remember puppy love. I was fifteen and met the most gorgeous boy who went to the neighboring boarding school. We were both in school in Virginia, but had the same home connection. I remember the first dance and how good it felt to be close to him and to get that first kiss. We wrote letters to each other almost every day and I couldn’t wait until they called me to the pay phone in the dorm and told me that it was him on the phone. I grinned from ear to ear. He told me how beautiful I was, and I blushed. He told me he loved me and I knew it had to be love because he said it and I felt it. I trusted him and I knew he wouldn’t do anything to hurt me. When we got accepted to different colleges and I still wasn’t giving up my virginity for him, things seemed to get strained. There were fewer phone calls and fewer letters and my female instinct told me that he was straying.
My mom made sure I was one of the best dressed students in college. She wanted me to look the New York City part and I did. I was pretty popular and so of course was pursued by the popular guy on campus – the six-foot something basketball star. He was tall and slender, had high cheek bones and piercing eyes and looked like he was an asian-african mix; a chai latte on a stick! Again, the long phone calls, typing my paper for me while I slept, cooking me dinner, I mean how could I not fall for this man! He stole my heart and also my virginity and I was hearing wedding bells at 19! I knew I was in love and wasn’t hiding from it. I dove in head-first and loved every minute of those warm feelings, yearnings, desires and big strong arms. Then one day Love stabbed me in the chest.
He told me that he would be out-of-town and off campus. My friends told me that his roommates were having a party, and I was of course not going to miss a campus party. Although I missed my baby, I got dolled-up and headed to the party with one of my girls. I happened to arrive as they were playing a slow song – I’m sure it was “Reasons” or “I Do Love You” or maybe even “Portuguese Love” – a song that expressed the writer’s undying love for another. As I walked into the crowd, there it was. Love was in the middle of the floor, plain as day and big and bold as an oversized valentine. My Love was up against the wall slow grinding with some other woman. I knew her. It was a friend of his best friend’s girlfriend. I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t breathe. I was in shock. My girlfriend advised me to go in there and cuss both of them out, make a scene and pretty much stop the party. All I could think was – how could he! I gave up my prize possession to him and this is what he does with my Love? He lied to my face and then discarded it like a child does an old toy that is no longer fun to play with. I decided the classy thing to do (and my mom always said that a woman should behave classy always) was to say nothing. I walked in and stood behind the woman so that when he opened his eyes from his brief slow grind in ecstasy, he would see my face. I didn’t need to say anything. I just wanted him to know that I saw him cheating. I wish I had a camera for the look on his face when he saw my scorn. It was priceless and painful all at the same time. I left the party with him in half-tow. I told him not to follow me and to never call me again.
I grieved through my poetry and my writing. I got angry, sentimental, frustrated, confused and vengeful. I subconsciously vowed that Love would never find me again. I dated a lot of men since him, but I always ended any relationship quickly that I thought was headed towards love. I ducked Love, I ran from Love, I stepped around it and I had relationships with men who didn’t want love or who weren’t in the position to promise love or who were just unavailable emotionally. And I felt that I evaded Love. Even when I was married, I chose a man who was safe – emotionally unavailable and financially stable. My heart was completely broken from the loss of my mother and I ducked the hell out of Love. Happiness would suffice. Babies, family, a husband to take care of me and who loved me more than I loved him. Happiness. I was completely hidden behind my fairytale marriage. Love could never find me here. No. Love wasn’t calling and I was content enough not to seek it. I was cloaked in grief and expectations of a life of happily ever after when I walked down the church aisle. I was looking for comfort, security, joy and freedom from the broken heart and sadness that followed me like a lost puppy. And I thought that the love we made between us would suffice as a substitute for true passion. I wasn’t inviting love. I was hiding from it.
This time it was grief that made me afraid to love again. I thought that if I never loved anyone with all of my heart and soul, then I could never be heartbroken.
But after years of grief therapy, coupled with more than a decade of journaling, talking, reading and working hard on my abandonment issues, I was out in the open, participating in my life. I was feeling a wide range of emotions and couldn’t hide anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I was still a little skeptical. I wasn’t searching for Love, but I wasn’t going to allow the fear of losing Love keep me from the feeling of ecstasy that consumes you when you are head over heals in Love.
So, come on Love. I’m not hiding from you any more. I won’t lie. I’m scared to death of the feeling you get when you are undeniably crazy about the person that has been placed in front of you. The person who you constantly think about, want to be with, can’t get enough of and want to have babies with; the person who you are falling in love with. The honest truth is that I want to be in control of love. I don’t like feeling like my heart is on a free-fall, and I can’t stop it.
Stop the world, I want to get off…. (Teena Marie)
Yet like a rollercoaster, I love the tickle in my stomach and the exhilaration of the ride, and the immeasurable release when I scream at the top of my lungs. I am scared to death yet every cell in my body is alive and feeling and enjoying the thrill.
So come on with it Love. I’ve been running from you too long. I’m not hiding any more. But when you call me, say my name slow and soft so I won’t be afraid of you. And just maybe I’ll answer this time.