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[It’s not romantic, it’s bizarre and almighty and so much better than you think]
Let me tell of you real love. Neon, staggering devotion. Let me paint the picture as I see it.
I won’t make this sentimental. I won’t be tender or aching about it. I’ll be wild instead, fiendish, disturbed, and mad with adoration, just as I like. I’ll destroy and resurrect. I’ll growl. I’ll do anything but play that wistful raw-hearted darling the world is so fond of, because I am much too audacious to wear the sweet flush of the lovelorn or trace sonatas across my skin. My nails are rough at the cuticles and my hair flies out of my skull the way it pleases, and I can tell you much about falling in love, but I won’t do it the way people want. I will do it my way, in my time.
Falling In Love, however you look at it, is terrifying. It has been plucked and prodded and molded for centuries, eventually becoming known as some shining thing; salvation for the lost, mercy for the suffering, joy for the empty, but this is romanticized bullshit and it has no place in my sphere. If you believe in that myth, you clearly haven’t been in love, because when you are you realize that you have fallen into something much like a great void, and that this void is full of monstrosities and starlight and a billion, throbbing maybe’s.
When you are, you realize the object of your affection is not flawless as everyone told you they would be, but ridiculous and incorrect and fully appalling. They’ve got dirt under their nails, and they peel the dry skin off their knuckles, and they shout when they shouldn’t, and they do the wrong things, and they talk with food in their mouths. They make you writhe with impatience and seethe with anger and throw yesterday’s paper at the wall, and for some shatteringly bewildering reason, you want it to be them annoying you for the rest of your days. Them, always, and no one else.
But there’s more.
If I could dissect for you all of humanity’s misconceptions about romance I would. In a heartbeat, so to speak.
We’d discuss the stupidity of The Swoon. I’d enlighten you, mention the historical buried context behind that so-called starry-eyed tableau—women stuffed into whalebone corsets, dancing with their beaus to thunderous fiddle and drums, while trying not to pass out, to breathe and stay upright, stay proper, even as their diaphragms were being squeezed like fists.
We’d dispel the idea of The Beauty and The Beast. I’d beg the question of why we cannot be both monster and marvel, why we always have to make a distinction between the two; good and evil, saver and saved? I’d stand in front of you with my misshapen body, my solid body, my curves freckles scars body, and I would laugh and yell and spin round and round with my arms thrown out, and I would show you how to be both.
We’d dismantle the concept of anything being Written In The Stars. I’d tell you that in a planet of seven billion there are too many random acts and intersections to believe that anything is set in stone, that if one lover leaves, you’ll never have another. I’d teach you how to enjoy whatever lands in your path then how to let it pass away with keen grace, when the time comes.
We’d discover that no one, no matter how violently you adore them, can complete you or heal you or restore the things you’ve lost. I’d inform you that they can love you, absolutely, and that you can love them, but you can’t save each other. You can only fight your way through the haze side by side.
Love, as I know it, is a drunken sprint for the finish line. It’s a grueling, constant decision to stay and be and do for another. Senseless euphoria. Days and days of boredom, itching at each the other, hitting all the wrong nerves until you both blow up in a blistering melee of fury and fear. Leaving and coming back, leaving and coming back, leaving but always coming back. The two cups of coffee set on the kitchen table even though one was never asked for. Displayed weakness. Perfect synchronicity. Breakdowns. Their arms around you, holding you to Earth. Abbreviated sentences that need no explanation because you speak the same language. Their fat, your birthmarks, their yellowing teeth, your knobby elbows, their cowlick, your nose, and the two of you completely infatuated with each other regardless. Lazy morning kisses until your combined halitosis reaches critical mass and you break off in giggles. Cleaning bile from each other’s hair after a night of too many drinks or the flu. Thunderous pain. Turning up the radio not because you like that song but because they do. Clear, gutfelt laughter. Walking into a room and feeling watery in the stomach at the sight of them, even after years and years and years.
That’s what this is. Insanity. Huge, implausible reverence that will bloat your heart until you think you’ll die from the stretch, and it won’t stop there.
Love never stops there.