Almost, Maybe Love Stories (Part Two)

Dopamine.  Norepinephrine.  Serotonin.  Love.

Didn’t I say that I’d come back to it?  Romantic Love?  The best (brain) chemical overload known to man?

And, so here I am, ready to write about it but wanting nothing really to do with it.  Love.  I’d rather get a heftier-than-thou serotonin release by licking one of those psychotropic toads.

Seriously.    (And, yeah, the poison of the Colorado River Toad can be used as a psychedelic stimulant.  No, really.  Don’t ask me how I know this…)

Okay, so, I haven’t made much progress from my Love Stories (Part One) post in which I admitted to only writing about unrequited love, romantic tragedy, and abuse.  Maybe I’ve even backslid, regressed, fallen deeper into the hole of anti-love than I was before.  It’s just that, barring the whole initial gut-wrenching giddy, to make romantic love last (or at least to make a partnership last) takes more than a magic love mushroom and more, even, than hard work.  Furthermore, it’s so, so messy and wildly unkempt.  That love.  And, while not bitter (I’m telling the truth, I really don’t feel bitter), I’m not interested in rejoining the muddy world of love work.  I’m just not.  And maybe never will be.  Is that so bad?

I will not go down the “I failed at love” path.  Nor will I lament that “love failed me.”  That’s simply not true.  I’ve known love.  I know what it’s like to look into the eyes of another human being and see only beauty reflected back.  I know that gazing into those eyes can last for long, long moments, half-hours, full hours. I know what it’s like to believe that a divine force has brought  a lover and I together and that, perhaps even death, while frightening, could not fully separate the two of us because the soul is just bigger than that and we had something otherworldly between us.  Yeah, I’ve had all that.   I just don’t have that type of romance in my life right now.  Simple fact.

And, nothing can sustain that sort-of intensity, and I didn’t really expect my love to remain at that inferonic level.  At least I think I didn’t.  I knew better than all that.  Right?  Right.  (And, no, “inferonic” is not a word.)

But, it was so good while it lasted and, in that way, I have no regrets.  “Better to have loved and lost…” and all that jazz.  I am just so thankful to have seen the blaze. To know that it exists, dopamine or no.  It was so tremendously bright and beautiful.  And divine.  I don’t discount that part.

(By the way, I probably do not have to say this, but, my marriage did not fail due to disappointment because the skillet stopped sizzling.  I just want to be clear about that because I think that some people assume that when marriage gets tough or, at least, less romantic, then people start running.  Think what you will from the outside, but I know that our case is not that case. We tried to be realistic about romance in that way and things are always more complex than some in-the-box judgmental assumptions. That sounded a little like I assumed you were judging me.  You weren’t.  Most defensiveness stems from self-projection.  I am just covering my bases here folks.)

Still, I suppose I am a love cynic and that’s okay.  I think.  (So much better to get swept away with, my dear.)

Or, maybe, as I reread what I have just written, I realize that I am not a love cynic at all.  I want there to be romantic love.  I want people to get swept away with the natural re-uptake inhibitors of eye gazing and hand holding and love making.  I do.  What sick and ugly world would we live in without these things?  Furthermore, I want people to make their love last.  I want them to be able to take what started out as something whimsical and mind blowing and, well, devouring, and turn it into something sustainable and long lasting and healthy and beautiful.  I believe in partnerships, lifelong or however long.  I guess I just don’t really want one for myself.

All that said, this is probably where Bachelor #1 enters the scene and I gasp and eat all my I-don’t-want-love-in-my-life bullshit, right?  I don’t know.

Maybe I’m afraid.  Maybe I’m not ready.  Maybe I’m just enjoying life swinging solo.

As an exercise, I opened a book of love letters given to me by a friend for my, I don’t know, 22nd birthday or so, and opened to a love letter from the 12th century Heloise to her former lover Abelard:

“But if I lose you, what is left to hope for?  What reason for continuing on the pilgrimage of life, for which I have no support but you, and none in you except the knowledge that you are alive…  Of all the wretched women I am the most wretched, and amongst the unhappy I am the unhappiest.  The higher I was exalted when you preferred me above all other women, the greater my suffering over my own fall and yours, when I was flung down; for the higher the ascent, the heavier the fall.”

Maybe, unlike Heloise, I want to stop while I’m ahead so as not to feel like I have no reason to continue “on the pilgrimage of life.”  I’ve known romantic love and wasn’t completely destroyed by it.

Or maybe I just need to back this train up and stop talking about romantic love.  I could take the energy I just spent denouncing my need for romance and put it into loving myself and the wonderful others around me—friends and family—that hold me up and sustain me despite my flaws.  Because, yeah, that’s love too! True love! And, because it is generally unconditional, it is also safe.

So, yeah, I went on this date recently.  The best date I’ve probably ever been on—not with a grown man, but with my son.  We had a gift card for the Olive Garden—a restaurant he had never been to before.  He dressed in a shirt and tie and told me that I looked very pretty in my dress.  He acted with the utmost maturity —napkin in lap, no fidgeting, pleasant talk in quiet voices—and more than one person commented on my “handsome date.”  The highlight for him was a fruit drink from the bar (Oh no, Mom, only adults can drink from the bar!) all fizzy and with sliced strawberries.  It was so tall that he had to stand up to drink from it.  He kept thanking me, hands folded on the table and a smile on his face, and commenting on the fanciness of the restaurant, the kindness of the waitress, and on how much he loved me.  With dates like that, who needs the inevitable chaos of romantic love?

Perhaps I lie.  Perhaps, despite the scientific knowledge about romantic love– the knowledge about dopamine and norepinephrine, the knowledge that the feelings of newly-in- love release tons of that marvelous, happy brain juice, therefore, maybe, discounting romantic love as pure biology– maybe love is something substantial and necessary. Maybe I will realize that and fall in love again.  Or, maybe I won’t realize it and fall in love by accident.  Or, maybe, with any luck, I’ll just be happy as a hot single young chik getting my serotonin from spending time with my son or my girlfriends or from Zumba.  Much safer means of requisition, don’t you think?

Nah, you probably don’t.

Still, months ago, I promised you a real love story and I will not recant.  I’m working on it.  Stay tuned…




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