Think of the small marks we make on the world and imagine if they rose up at once, almost an orchestra of dispossession and abandon. A pair of trainers worn because someone found them beautiful in some way. The skirt with its fringe. A ring given by someone who has gone. The boarded windows of a shop, a failed enterprise I can see from its name would fail. Often the last thing I am interested in is success. I love the things that struggle to thrive because they mean so much.
That phrase: high maintenance. You don’t want to be caught up in something with a high maintenance person, do you? That’s an impossible person. Where are you in that? Difficult people, though, they’re different. They don’t make demands like impossible people do. Difficult people can be very kind … and difficult. Their love, because they do love something in life, and something in themselves that they’ve let in from the big unknown, complicates things. So what’s difficult about a difficult person? Life becomes more complicated, maybe more real. Don’t mistake someone difficult for someone impossible. Big mistake.
My name is Balloona,
I rise up in the night,
And I purr near Moona,
Like me is lovely white.
I am most dreaming cat,
Who up into the sky,
And go after night-cloud,
And I fly, and I fly.
I love little Moona,
Who I have watch so long,
You silvery, you up,
I wish I could make song.
What is this why we rise?
You Moona bird and I,
What is you lovely Moona?
I love you make me cry.
Every time you try to describe me, you simplify me. You limit me. Immediately I am no longer me (not, perhaps that I would do any better). The only kind of truth that will ever reveal as much of me, of you, as would a lifetime of getting to know each other, is in poetry; and then, perhaps it could even be more.
I remember receiving letters and the writer had perfumed the paper. Before I even opened the envelope I was in some way already with her. What happens with emails? I wonder, what happens. I touch the keyboard of my computer as I open a message, but that touch is so familiar it goes undetected unless I remind myself to notice – and wheres the fun in that? A message is presented to me from behind glass: on my phone, which I hold in my hand, or on the screen of my laptop; and with it, always a web of connections and escapes.
Do I really remember holding a letter, sitting at a window, in the sun, at a table in a café in Paris? Do I remember the softness of the paper and the scent of a perfume, and an arrangement of objects on the table: a pen, a ring and a postcard from the other side of the world? Or do I picture this flatly as I see my email messages, and look for the idiosyncrasies which make a message feel special to me? An arrangement of words and characters, maybe kisses, at the end. Gaps between paragraphs or a single cloud of words, one edge, almost always the left one, cut sheerly.
Has something happened to the way I remember, and what does that mean about how I love?
Another love: I can think of a cricket match and the race and blur of a bowler dismissing a batsman. A slow motion replay of the bowler. The ball barely visible and the stumps exploding. I saw a clip of a cricket broadcast last week and realised how much of what I was seeing I never saw when I was learning to love the game. And I couldn’t love it as I do if I got to know it like that: dissected and suspended in moments that broke apart the blur, the motion. All that urge to look, and why? If I studied a face like that I would still never know the person looking at me. I would need to see them move, hear them speak, feel them alive.
All that attention to work something out – when I know, for me, the main thing about cricket for me remains the grass. The smell and the feel of the grass. After playing a game I’d walk bare-footed across the pitch, always. I’d stand on the square and feel the strange carpet of grass underneath me, remembering what had happened and breathing the memory in, as I did with letters.
Smell and touch, and a different attention to detail. There’s a shape to this piece of writing which doesn’t come from what happens behind a screen, electronically; maybe something like smoke. I’d smoke a cigarette reading letters. I also know, as my father was an electrical engineer, and my car caught fire once in Scotland, that electrical circuits smell of caramel before they burn, and I prefer electric to electronic.
I was on my way to meet a friend for lunch yesterday and realised my mood had spiralled downwards after a run of irritating things. Tuesday had been patchy to rotten, yesterday morning was rotten to patchy, both in spite of (or perhaps exacerbated by) some lovely moments. Then a colleague showed me a picture of a kiss. I told her about a kiss I’d seen yesterday: Tom Hiddlestone as Henry V kissing the French princess. I wish I could show a link here but perhaps it’s best left to the imagination, and Shakespeare, to whom I think the actors somehow managed to remain faithful:
(KING HENRY V)
You have witchcraft in your lips, Kate: there is more eloquence in a sugar touch of them than in the tongues of the French council; and they should sooner persuade Harry of England than a general petition of monarchs.
That got me back on my feet. I then found some Frank O’Hara:
And love healed all. I felt free to enjoy lunch with my friend.
Denial leaves people saying all kinds of things: the right thing, the wrong thing. When denial, a fundamental emotional disconnection between me and not me, occurs … anything goes. A person carries on acting as if whatever’s not them isn’t really there; and the world of not them languishes or prospers from the effects of what they do, but only co-incidentally. A coincidence becomes the only real point of coming together. Outside of coincidence, the world outside is kept magically apart – when of course it isn’t. Denial’s a recipe for disaster, another holocaust, a cold world in flames.
I can offer a few thoughts that might help, but it depends how you’re listening. What’s love? It isn’t so much that nobody knows; more a matter of everybody knowing without realising they do.
A lot of people asking questions about love are looking to confirm something they already believe, or feel strongly about, without realising it. Tell them something about love they disagree with and they’ll dismiss you out of hand, or shoot whatever you’re saying down before it barely gets off the ground. Love is a hell of a feeling. Continue reading “What is Love?”