dating, fear, Jack, miscellany, NYC, reflections, relationships

this is what we call love

This is what we call love. When you are loved, you can do anything in creation. When you are loved, there’s no need at all to understand what’s happening, because everything happens within you.—Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

This isn’t a love story, not really. More accurately, not only. To brand it a love story places it into a genre easily dismissed as infatuation (at best), lust (at its most carnal), or delusional (at its most heartbreaking). Perhaps in retrospect, should this fall apart in ways unanticipated and unpredictable (of which, of course, I am as certain as people are under these conditions that it will not), I will feel silly and ridiculous and embarrassed that it was, after all, merely a love story predicated upon sexual desire, an infatuation with one man’s body/mind/being, a delusion I’d tricked myself into believing actually existed after so many years of telling myself it had vanished the moment a certain casket closed on a cold January morning nearly six years ago.

So call it a love story, to make it simple, if you like, but it’s so much more than that, I hardly know where to begin.


The power of a glance has been so much abused in love stories, that it has come to be disbelieved in. Few people dare now to say that two beings have fallen in love because they have looked at each other. Yet it is in this way that love begins, and in this way only.—Victor Hugo

Watching The Affair yesterday there was a scene in which Cole is making love to his fiancée. He is looking into her eyes, she into his, as he moves on top of her, and though they are but actors they are superb ones. The feeling of deep connection, of a love beyond the physical, nearly leaps off the screen and into my bedsheets.

Two months ago I’d have dismissed this as fiction. I’d never looked into a lover’s eyes for more than a fraction of a moment, the prospect of intimacy either too uncomfortable to bear or too preposterous to imagine. Even before and after sex, being gazed upon (or gazing back) was an exercise in extreme discomfort. Who could possibly stand for another human being to see them so deeply? I’d imagine at times. Others I’d tell myself that I was just different. That I needed more space than most people, that I wasn’t meant to let my guard down so much. Or, actually, at all.

Today my lover and I look each other in the eyes so often I can’t remember a time this would have felt foreign. Finding his gaze upon me as I read, or cook dinner, or work on an email, brings a smile to my face rather than embarrassment. I feel loved, connected, safe. I also feel as I do not deserve these gifts, these blessings, but I’m working on that last one. Because if I got what I deserved in life, I’d probably be dead by now, so eschewing gratitude for skeptical questioning of my worthiness isn’t likely my best plan of attack.


You know, when it works, love is pretty amazing. It’s not overrated. There’s a reason for all those songs.—Sarah Dessen, This Lullaby

I try not to give out too many specific details about current relationships out of a respect for my partner’s privacy. I will say he took me to some hot springs in Northern California last weekend, which rocketed our relationship into an entirely new stratosphere (as probably only a four-day stay at a clothing-optional resort in the area could). And that I’ll be meeting (and spending the holiday) with his family and kids. And that while you may think this is proceeding quickly, time takes on an entirely new meaning when you’re dealing with two people in their 40s who’ve been divorced a long time and whose kids are older and who pretty much know what they’re looking for.

Beyond that, it’s becoming more and more apparent that perhaps what I had with Jack was merely a prequel to my life today, as that former relationship has either been forgotten enough or many elements really have been transcended as of late. Maybe this is my One True Love, and the grief was what I needed to see it when it was standing in front of me on Thompson Street, a little over a month ago. I know that’s what I’ll be thinking when I meet his parents next week; this is the man I love, the man I want to grow old with, live in NYC with, and go on a thousand or more adventures with. The fact that it happened so quickly never crosses my mind as we drift off to sleep cuddled up every night. No, what I’m thinking then is that I’m the luckiest woman in the world.