Tomorrow it is that most sickening commercial celebration of love that leave people all over the world distressed because they don’t have people who give them cards or chocolate. All of life for one day will be filled to the brim with a facade of twee affectation about love.
Me? I’ll spend the day until then thinking about the nature of love, and how different it is from what I imagined before it. Truth be told, I can barely remember what it was like not having this complex, shifting, ungraspable and diffuse feeling inside of me.
I mean, I can go back and read what I have written, but there’s only a shallow resonance there. It is like there is no real understanding about what I used to be. And I know how strange that seems, and I know how lucky that makes me, and I know that maybe I should feel a bit guilty about all this having happened to me.
I don’t think I could coherently describe love even now because it is not one thing; not one state; not one essence; not one feeling. It is this shifting, twirling, bouncing, pulling, pushing interaction between a set of different emotions.
I suppose there’s the animal bit that just wants sex, and there’s the intellectual bit that just wants a meeting of the minds. There’s the incredible bedrock of trust, and the quicksand of fear. There’s the underlying doubt and the overarching joy. And which emotion is the strongest changes from moment to moment, from day to day, from week to week.
At the same time I can trust implicitly while knowing that I don’t deserve it and that Mark could do better than me. At the same time there’s the animal need to rip off clothes and shag on the floor coupled with the moment of ego-extinction when I look into his eyes. There’s the fury of jealousy when someone looks at him in an admiring way, and the desperate panic when I compare myself unfavourably to the admirer, and the relief when he constantly choose me. There’s that moment when I recognise what he’s feeling, when he looks at me. Me. Like that. And everything sort of disappear.
How can a stupid commercial day of the year when merchants and traders want us to pay good money to trade silly cards compare to that look in his eyes, that crook of the neck, that crease of a smile? This day seems to cheapen it, and make that into a superficial thing.
Like the hypocrite that I am, I have bought the chocolate and the card, and I’ll give it to him tomorrow. I have it in my school bag, wrapped in paper. That’s the only place I know I can count on him not looking for something. But it’s just a token; a shadow; an empty gesture. That look is all I need. That he choses me, again and again is all I want. I hope it’s all that he needs from me.
How can this stupid box and card compare to that? How can this day even begin to describe all this complexity? It has to fall into a cliché, and as it falls into cliché it becomes a shallow thing, a lie, and a bit of theatre.
The three hardest words in the English language are “I love you”. They’re so hard because the words are bottomless pits that you can fall into, and keep on falling into the words forever. And it could take a whole life, more, to understand all the nuances of what is actually meant by those words.
In that sense, I suppose that I fail as a writer. Any word I ever put on the page or the screen or the piece of paper are going to be empty, thin, shrivelled, and distorted ghosts of the real thing. There is a limit to language. There is a limit to communication. There’s a limit to expression.
I wish I could transfer the meaning of those three words into you, so you could see how big and bright and burning and ice-cold and deep and wide the words actually are to me. I wish I could show you all how big, massive, deep and tall it all is.
But I can’t.
In extension, I can’t transfer that to Mark. I can give him silly cards, boxes of chocolate, and use short-hand clichés that doesn’t actually mean anything, because in the end that’s all I’ve got. That, and hopefully the unspoken looks and gestures and signs that maybe can bridge the gap where my words can’t.