So, Love. (Thoughts on Love Post-Valentine’s Day, Written Before Valentine’s Day)


photo credit: lurking via photopin (license)
photo credit: lurking via photopin (license)

So, love.

Love’s like, the greatest thing. It’s your favorite team winning on your birthday and free donuts for everyone, plus also no red lights at all and the best songs playing in every store you walk into.

Love’s like, also, this really sneaky snake that has just enough venom to make it so you can’t walk or breathe. And it bites you over and over, and seems to live in your sock drawer. It kills you slowly and over and over.

And I’m not sure you ever find a cure, even if you want it more than all the best Eagles records and also playoff tickets. Free playoff tickets, in that section where they come and take your drink order.

Some years, Valentine’s Day turns you into a dreamer, high on a feeling and willing to do anything, like cook dinner for that special someone and maybe even rub their shoulders. Just their shoulders.

Some years, you gag a little inside for every Etsy email that comes through talking about your sweetie or darling or love in the air, because it’s like someone sprayed an entire aerosol can of “in your face” in your face.

Love invokes us to believe in miracles and magic.

Love leaves us courageous and love leaves us bitter. Love invokes us to believe in miracles and magic.

Love also forces our eyes upward and palms out to ask God, Jesus, Allah, Buddha or whoever has the shift of Destiny right now and asking, “What the effing hell is going on here??” Love cuts and slices, waits for you to heal – and slices again.

Love brings on the Norah Jones Pandora station and it wraps around you like a fancy resort blanket and fulfills you like a bacon double cheeseburger on someone else’s tab.

Love also punches you in the kidneys right when you’re falling asleep and is that Adele song you hate but is so effing true. Love can lurk on counter-top corners on the lookout for your funny bone.

And yet, we hope for it. We dream of it. We cannot wait for Valentine’s Day.

Whether love wraps its tendrils around you loaded with all the right voltage of electricity to activate your dreamer and motivate your passion, or it tightens around you like a python in barbed wire, sometimes you see love, or what could be love, and you stop for a minute and forget your own pain.

Love can be small and insignificant feeling, like a warm breeze on the African coast. Those warm breezes can become hurricanes.

In your own pain, you sometimes forget that no matter how your love played out, it started something like this. Small and insignificant feeling, like a warm breeze on the African coast. But those warm breezes sometimes become hurricanes.

It takes such perfect circumstances, it feels mathematically less possible than the Cleveland Browns making the playoffs or drafting a quarterback who isn’t a punk.

Back when love couldn’t decide whether it would be tempest or temptress for me, I saw this thing happen between two people I think are really stinking awesome.

It was small. He’s a boy who reminds me of me back in the day – awkward as a burp in church and hopeful as a lottery ticket. And he smiled at this awesome girl.

I felt a twinge of jealousy. Just for a moment. That he was in a spot to like a girl like her. That’s all. Because of the high opinion I have of the girl, and how I think he’s a good kid.

And it reminded me of how simple and beautiful it was.

Am I seeing the start of something good here? Maybe, maybe not.

The whole boy meets girl thing.

I wondered. Am I seeing the start of something good here? Maybe, maybe not.

But you know, love and all the good shit that goes with it, it’s awesome. Even when it has sucker punched you a few times and broken your pinkies on purpose and things like that.

The universe does good stuff every day. Saving puppies and manatees and dropping pennies in people’s paths to give them hope. It’s storybook endings and bliss and an ability to stay still long enough to drink in joy.

It also wreaks some serious damage, like category 5 damage with angry stingrays and harsh chemicals. It’s shocking lows and twisted words and abandoned faith. It’s believing  you’re part of a greater whole – but discovering you aren’t.

So, love.

love quote

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38 thoughts on “So, Love. (Thoughts on Love Post-Valentine’s Day, Written Before Valentine’s Day)

  1. Wow on your definition of love. I will say that as a married woman, Valentine’s Day is pretty much all but guaranteed, but I have my own issues with this one day as it is the anniversary of the day my grandfather passed away some years back. So sadly still not my favorite day for that reason by far.

  2. This is brilliant. It’s SO where I’m at – falling halfway off cloud nine, with broken pinkies, punched kidneys, and (not the good kind of) tied hands. But still very much starry-eyed and hopeful.
    *sigh*

    Hope your valentine’s day was a good one, or that it’s better now it’s over.

    1. Thank you Lizzi. There’s plenty of company in that in-between space. So long as we never lose that sense of wonder of it all.

      Sigh indeed.

      I was glad to see the shelves cleared of hearts and candy; but it also wasn’t such a horrible day after all.

      1. I’m glad it wasn’t so awful. And I was glad to see all the sweets and gimmicky bits of tat shoved out of the way to the reduced shelves, even if it means the shops are now all packing for Easter.

        There’s plenty of wonder to be had in the in-betweens. There are bits of it I even rather love 🙂

  3. Yes, this all about right. Love is a terrible mess. It can hurt or heal and either is just as powerful. It’s like watching the ocean, I think – it can be calm, soothing, placid and in mere moments, a churning stormy wall of devastating proportions. And yet we keep coming back. So there must really be something to it.
    But do we need one day for it? No. Definitely no.

    1. Glad you agree, Lisa. It can be, can’t it? There are elements in the periodic table like it, but not on this scale.

      Reminds me of the Big Thompson River in Colorado, too – majestic, life-giving, but also destructive, potentially. It’s life-giving and it’s life-sucking. The idea of containing it in a day is as silly as containing that broad river. There should be some valentines in every day.

  4. Dear Eli,
    Thought about you all day yesterday – with hopes and prayers for your fairy tale and happy ending. Your definition of love is spot-on. Loved the imagery of the young boy and I truly appreciate the man behind the keyboard who brought this to life. Hope your day was special. Michelle

    1. Dear Michelle,

      Thanks so much – I hope your day was awesome. Love’s all over the place, isn’t it? That boy kind of lives on in the man, and I hope he always does.

      Turns out this day, today, was even more special.

    1. Love, right Jennifer? I will check out your post now. Can’t wait, actually. The definition can change and wane, but the base is broad, isn’t it?

      Love is more amazing than a triple play in baseball, a hail Mary pass and a stuffed crust pizza, times a million.

  5. I think the Everly Brothers sang it best back in 1957 “Love Hurts”. And Bob Marley questions it in “Is This Love” and we all know that it is. Love the African breeze turning into a hurricane metaphor. Love can blow us away…

    1. Don’t forget “Love Stinks” and “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling” by the Everly Brothers (and Hall and Oates.) Love’s also like Ohio State Route 128 and a Jack Ingram concert, but who has time for all that?

  6. Love is so many things that drive us wild with fury, turn us into hopeless romantics and reminds us the without it, life is really just too quiet.

    I love this post! May just be my favorite to date sir!

  7. Holy BLEEEEEEEEEEEEP, Eli. I really honestly truly think this is my favorite writing you have ever published… I just…

    Ugh, I loved this so much. And I ❤ that you put this out there, because it shows that not all love is oversized teddy bears and boxes filled with chocolates. That sometimes it's the thorn on the rose and it will never ever be perfect and it's about time we hang up all of our expectations.

    Despite the fact that I knew Bryan cares even less about Valentine's Day than I do, I still had HOPE that it would be THEBESTDAYOFMYLIFE and how FARKIN stupid and naive of me because 1) what am I? 18 years old? and 2) Who gives a crap? Because inevitably what happens is we end up fighting about why he didn't do anything (uhm, he told me we wouldn't do anything and we BOTH agreed it was stupid)

    Which takes me to this morning when he gave me a kiss on my forehead as he left work and gently told Buster to look out for mommy and how I went out of my way to go to the liquor store because I know that one carries his favorite beer. It's not a day reserved for sentimental sh*t sticks. It's about the small gestures you do for each other every day that don't always add up to Hallmark version. Those are the pieces that count.

    Anyway, thank you for this. I loved every word.

    1. No need to censor around here, Charlotte. It’s an honor to think you’d have a favorite post of mine.

      So glad it struck a chord. I wrote it in 20 minutes. It began with a conversation with a co-worker, and 20 minutes later, 720 words.

  8. Love at you, with all these female readers: all of us clinging to your words about love.

    What do I know about love?

    Apparently nothing.

    It’s okay, though.

    I’m focusing on myself, rebuilding myself from the bottom up.

    Learning to love myself.

    And do for myself.

    And take care of all my needs myself.

    So that, one day, maybe I’ll be ready for the compromise that loving another person requires.

    1. That’s like the Buffalo Bills holding a symposium on sports excellence, Renee. I’m not qualified!

      I think we’re all amateurs at this. It’s not what you know, it’s what you do. In fact, the more we think we ‘know’ about love, the worse off we likely are.

      Even the shortest-term concentration on self seems to show immediate results. I felt it today. From the bottom up. How can we be loved if we can’t see love for ourselves?

      I think when we do that, we’re who we were meant to be. And that probably is far more alluring to anyone than the us we make adjustments to be.

      And I suspect that compromise you spoke of will feel much more like a complement with that person.

  9. Over the weekend, my second oldest son, a boy who sent me pictures of the rings in the jewelry store he was considering, and carried the one he did purchase for two months to wait for the perfect moment/day/time, proposed to his girl .Their youth, excitement and high expectations of love lasting happily ever after filled my soul. It was good to be reminded. Love is an amazing thing… and I’m oh so very happy we’ll be extending our family number someday in the not too far off future, by one. 🙂

    1. Way to go, son! You love to see them then, at that moment of expectation and bliss. You also want to wish them to remember that expectation and bliss when life becomes such a burden. Can they traverse it together?

      Isn’t that what we want? Not just someone for sunny days. But someone you’d go to the ends of earth for in the darkest moments.

      Congratulations, Rosey!

  10. Love is the place where your name is safe on their lips.
    I always – even as an angst fueled infatuated teen – felt that if there was no safe place; it wasn’t Love. Or at least not one worth having. Irony – the romantic comedy has all but killed the notion of love, by planting this idea that somehow we must Hurt, to get love. No no – Love is the Gift! It should heal and Hope. Always. Maybe I am an incurable Romantic, or a hopeless Idealist; but I don’t think any of us should have to suffer to receive Love. I don’t mean it should be all Fantasy all the time, because sure, there will hard days and trials. We are imperfect people who misunderstand and fail; but Love should cover over a multitude of wrongs. How do we get there? We have to understand one simple thing: it’s not a feeling – it’s a VERB. And our actions should always be centered on the well being of the other, and not just our own. I think if we do that – consistently; there’s no “ouch” in Love.

    1. You could have written the book on love, Rore. I feel like I know so little, just my observations of it.

      I’m with you on love without suffering. There are a couple of lines in music about that:

      “when you suffer it shows you really care”

      and

      “boys only want love if it’s torture”

      Kind of sad commentary, isn’t it? Why do we link suffering to love so tightly?

      Romantic comedy hurts love in so many ways. How many times does the jerk get the girl?

      1. It’s actually an interesting historical literary theme: “The Rake Theatre” series from the Restoration Period. The English Rake was a bad bad boy!! But honestly, some of the comedies are amazing and funny. The Rake had two choices in life basically: either settle down with the nice country wife who would reform/enlighten him; or end up in debtors prison — maybe even a slow, horrible death from some VD!!! And there stuck the idea that a man was either penitent, or persistent in vices; and it is the heroine’s job to try and save him. Of course there are varying degrees of “rakish behaviour” as well; from quite artistic/philosophical sorts with basically a good heart, to the truly vicious libertines. But the best part is the wit in these plays is wicked sharp and fast often. And the women get their jibes in too. The Country Wife is a good one.
        Or just basically get Charlie Sheen’s autobiography. 🙂

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