Thursday, June 19, 2008


"All love is unrequited"

-Susan Ivanova, from the TV show Babylon 5 (yes, I realize I am a scifi geek)

Friday night at the retreat we had an interesting conversation about love and relationships, the nature of connection and the validity of unrequited love. It was definitely a stimulating conversation (and not one I expected to have with half a dozen guys and only one other girl). I also found it interesting that I had written the following passage just a couple of days prior in one of my daily writing times (I am trying to write a little something every day, like Anne Lamott recommends):

If you asked her why she loved Ethan, she would not have been able to tell you. She could list his pros and cons, the things she loved about him, the things that drove her mad. But to answer 'why do you love him?' she could only say, because I do. Love is something that cannot be reasoned-it simply is. While you may give up hope of it being requited, it will never leave you. Likewise, you can try to convince yourself to love a person because they seem to be everything you thought you wanted, but in the end, if your heart, your soul, does not beat wildly in anticipation of their very presence, you know that your admiration is not enough.

Of course, people will say this is merely romance, or worse, lust. They argue that love is a choice, a commitment. True, but still there is a mystery to real love, something that makes a person stay when their spouse has hurt them, makes a parent see a child through years of rebellion, makes a wife care for a husband dying of Alzheimers. That connection that brings the deepest part of you into communion with the other-that cannot be found on a pro and con worksheet.

This was the kind of love that Abby felt for Ethan. She knew she would always love him, despite the uncertain future of their relationship. There would always be a place in her heart reserved only for his smile, even decades in the future, perhaps after she had given the rest of her heart to someone else, someone who would love her back, with whom she would have children and would grow old with. Even then, when she sat in her rocking chair and looked at her grandchildren, she would remember the love that she felt for Ethan, and a bittersweet smile would steal its way onto her face. And when her granddaughter asked her what she was thinking of, she would pull her onto her lap, and say, "let me tell you a story, dear. A story about love."

This little section, while just a random bit of freewriting, will hopefully (in some form) be part of my grand novel someday. But for now I think it expresses some of my current perspective on relationships. We can talk for hours and days about what we look for in a significant other, perhaps the merits of a particular person, or what we believe is most important in a relationship. But in the end, we fall hard for people in spite of our logical, rational arguments for or against them. And while I am rather practical when it comes to the reality of how hard relationships can be, and that no matter how much you care for someone, sometimes it doesn't work out, I am still a romantic. I still hold to the mysterious nature of love and the beauty of the process. And I trust that someday I too will have beautiful stories to tell my grandkids.

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