You may have gathered from my previous posts that I was/am a little bit in love with Iowa City. It’s hard not to be right now. First off, it’s FALL. A time that makes EVERYTHING beautifall. (heheheheh) Secondly, it’s initials are IC. The same two letters I write on most of my grocery lists — a certain staple found in the frozen foods section. In addition, I love how easy it is to find parking and how safe the streets are and how comfortable I feel.
[In the paragraph above, I am skirting the issue.]
So. Now. Well. As terrified as it makes me, as vulnerable as I will now publicly become, I hereby declare that I am in love. I have a very VERY good friend, who opened a conversation with not-just-me-but-many-of-her-acquaintances early this summer with, “I’m falling in love.” I squinted my eyes in consideration. Was I glad she was falling in love? Certainly. But what did I think about the verbal salute to her humanity like so? Well, I thought it was either beautifully brave or psychotically stupid, depending on the day. The ratio of my personal disclosure has rested on how apt I feel to embrace my emotions, on a given day. But that is no way to follow Alice Walker’s guidance about love: to ‘honor its coming with all my heart’.
Normally, I hide like a ninja from men, my weapons at the ready. I avoid them, then seek to enrage them — and if one decides to battle me for my affection, I engage. The problem is, those who want to battle for my love are fighters like myself. And thus we build our battleground.
Furthermore, I have a complicated relationship with love itself. I fear it eats away the rest of life, the tiny delicacies that can fill us up in the absence of a partner. I want to taste everything — and when we fall in love, there is a streamlining of our energies away from the world and into just one person. Mother Theresa was who she was because she had no husband and no children. She had a TON left to give to others, because she wasn’t funneling all her time into a family unit. Her arms had space to hold the whole world. I have wanted the ability to take in friends and children at 150%, never leaving them in the cold while I cuddle with someone…held up in a tiny love huddle.
But as with all things, there is give and take; there are pros and cons. And there is a reason why people keep signing up for this shit: it’s really good shit.
In my last relationship, I chose someone who tapped into all of my self loathing. It was like dating my own inner critic. It was painful and pointless. This time, I’m going to choose the nicer side. Kindness begets kindness. It feels like I got a new lease on life. I am a better version of myself.
I was walking through the great beauty known as Hickory Hill Park, admiring the trees, thinking how excited I was about still being here come spring. Getting to love this place now, through winter, and into spring. Looking forward to seeing it!, day after day, no cap on time. And I realized…if I could look at love like that, too — I may be onto something. If I could imagine loving him come spring — not deciding that that is a statistical impossibility — maybe I can tap into some part of love that I have previously avoided. For I know Hickory Hill will be here – it’s a permanent fixture. I’m just never sure that people won’t change their minds or their position on me. I preemptively distance myself, for fear of displacement.
I do love him. I know I do. I’ve loved a few people over time, and each time, I have known. Your whole being seems to radiate with the words until you cough them out. You are aware of it as you ride your bike, take a shower, eat cereal. You are alive with the truth of your heart. The first time I told him I loved him, though, was with a contraction……a contradiction, rather…thrown in. ‘I don’t love you’, I told him, scared to death.
I’m going to tell him I love him freely from now on. I’m going to take out the contractions, the pauses, the fears and the annulments. I’m also going to add a few words into the mix. I’m going to tell him that he is like Hickory Hill. I’m going to tell him that I look forward to loving him.
Because I do.