First written: July 20th, 2011.
How many times have you been in love?
More than once, if that’s what the question implies.
The question might also imply that such a simple question is best answered with the hindsight of 20/20 vision.
The nature of adolescent love is such that when things don’t work out, one falls back on the only notion of relationship one knows at the time, which is friendship. And so one hopes to be “friends forever.”
One such love had to do with a soulmate, which you can read about here. Friends since 16, we found each other (romantically, I mean) too late—a case of not being there at the right place at the right time—and although we haven’t forgotten each other today, it is the most superficial meaning of what “friends forever” can mean. For being a friend forever connotes an enduring presence, whether real or virtual, a point of contact, a form of continuity, no matter how brief and intermittent through the passages of time. We are no longer in touch.
The least sentimental definition of what it means to be in love comes from one of my favourite authors, Truman Capote, in his book, Other Voices, Other Rooms (1948).
“Let me begin by telling you that I was in love. An ordinary statement, to be sure, but not an ordinary fact, for so few of us learn that love is tenderness, and tenderness is not, as a fair proporlian suspect, pity; and still fewer know that happiness in love is not the absolute focusing of all emotion in another: one has always to love a good many things which the beloved must come only to symbolize; the true beloveds of this world are in their lovers’s eyes lilac opening, ship lights, school bells, a landscape, remembered conversations, friends, a child’s Sunday, lost voices, one’s favourite suit, autumn and all seasons, memory, yes, it being the earth and water of existence, memory.”
There is something so deep and so true about this definition, that being in love is about how the other person transcends thought and memory, and becomes a part of everything else that one loves, whether it’s a sunset or an unforgettable tune.
Everything else pales, though, in comparison to the one with whom forever is first a dream, then a vow, a reality, and, a decision.