Just around the time when life moves from youngster to adulthood, I found myself lost but wondering if there was a reason I felt this way. I was wandering in a sense and searching, like always, and trying to find this thing we call love.
Of course, I knew what love was. At least, I knew a little about love. I knew that I had love for people in my life. I knew I felt love before but this was different. I knew love was a feeling. And I knew that I pretended to love. But love I was searching for was different.
In previous attempts, I had tried to place myself on love’s path. But I was on the wrong road, which led me to the wrong places. I tried to find myself in love, and by any means possible. I tried hard too just so I could feel this “Thing” people talked about. I wanted to know what it was like to have someone walk in a room, and then suddenly, everything changes, consecutively, and ongoing.
I was somewhere in my early 20’s and standing in a wedding party. The groom and I went back as long as life could allow us. He was my first best friend and now he was about to marry his new best friend. I remember the lot of us, standing in a small group and laughing about the people we used to be.
One of my old friends, Chris, reminded me of a time from back when we were a couple of screaming, longhaired kids and a police officer (I think his name was Officer White) chased us through Prospect Park and me being the derelict that I was; I hopped over a fence and ingested a large amount of controlled substance so not to be caught with it. We laughed about this. We laughed about the things we survived and how we survived them in spite of our own best efforts.
Next, it was picture time before the wedding—and we all lined up, the wedding party and me. We stood out in the warm June sunshine in a garden that was popular for wedding pictures, which, supposedly, everyone knew about except for me. I was never one to know these things like where to get married or when or how pictures were arranged and wedding parties gathered. As a matter of fact, this was only my second time ever wearing a tuxedo.
This was all strange to me. I felt like we were kids pretending to be adults. And now life was about to be different—now it all changed and life picked up the pace and moved to a new tempo. It was strange to me, marriage, and love, and until death does someone part. I wondered what all of this meant. I wondered if things like this really happened. Was this real or do people only pretend to feel this way because nobody ever wants to die alone? Or, maybe this was just me being me, too young and too cynical, and deep down, I was afraid that I would never find myself celebrated like the two who were about to be married.
Just around this time, I met a girl that I had spent a weekend with—and it was only one weekend—and for some strange reason, we pretended to love each other and acted like we were going to be together. We acted this way the entire weekend, as if it were all an ongoing 48 hour role-play, but deep down, we knew it was a game. We knew it was all just pretend.
I thought about this while posing for the pictures before my friend’s wedding. I thought about love or if love were real, then why must it be this ever elusive thing. Why was love complicated? Or did it have to be complicated? What is it? And, if love came along, would I even know what love looked like? And how would I know what love looked lie, especially if I had never seen it before?
That night at the wedding, we toasted to our friend’s future. We swore our plans to stay friends would never change and that no matter what happens or where we go in life; we always swore to keep in touch.
This is always something the young ones say. This is something we said before we understood the stress of life, bills, mortgages, and dare I say it, this is something we said before we knew about heartache, deceit, and inevitably, divorce.
Love . . .
Maybe love was a girl that I had never met before. Or, it could be that I had already seen the girl of my dreams; only, I didn’t know it when she passed and she slipped by me because I failed to take notice. But how would I know love if I met her? What would she look like?
Least of all, love is not this typical thing; therefore, it would be impossible for the girl of my dreams to look typical in any way. She would have to be miraculous, different, extraordinary, unexpected, and everything I ever wanted. But yet, she would look like no one else I had ever seen before. She wold be like no one I had ever known before and I would be surprised to find her, but yet blessed, because I knew she was out there somewhere.
My love would have to be the girl with an unforgettable laugh that would infect me. And I would be able to smell her on my clothes after she left. And I would be able to see her in my mind whenever she wasn’t in the room.
If love were to walk through the door right now, she would be the one who held my attention and nothing else in the world could sway me, not money, not my job, not my friends or family, or anything else. If love walked in the room, I swore, she would be the girl that made me feel wild enough to be young—and I mean relentlessly unforgivably young. I swore love is the thing that makes you smile and say, “I’m just a kid!”
I wondered what she would look like. If I were to find love, would it look as I expected or would love come through the door and be this totally, unexpected thing. I go back to the very first poem of mine, which I meant wholeheartedly, but I shared it with some girl once just to get by, and together, we pretended this combined us when in fact, she only proved my poem correct.
Since I had no idea what love looked like I had no idea what kind of package she would be. And I wanted to find out. I wanted to know. I wanted to feel the kind of love that literally made me feel unstoppable. I wanted to find a girl that made me think the world could flush away and it wouldn’t really matter so long as she was with me.
This was my real first poem:
“If I listen, I can hear you in my thoughts
and if I look, I can see you in my dreams
on the movie screens in side behind the walks of my eyelids
But I only hope that soon
I can meet you
so I can hold you in my arms forever . . .”
I wrote this for an unknown girl in an unknown world. I wanted to feel this way; as if it were me and her against the world. I wanted to feel unstoppable. I wanted to feel this way so bad that I allowed myself to slowly negotiate my terms because i was afraid that I was not being realistic.
Maybe this girl doesn’t exist. Maybe love doesn’t exist—or at least, maybe it was just that kind of love didn’t exist—or, maybe it was me.
Maybe there was something wrong with me; and therefore, I allowed for a compromise of my terms. I compromised my dreams and gave away pieces of my details to feel something extraordinary; however, I never realized that by compromising terms, no matter what I received in return; whatever I got could never be what I wanted because i settled for something less. Instead, I would always feel as if my love was second-hand or coerced.
So long as I compromised and settled for less, my love was nothing more than fake, or should I say forced—and I would force myself to fit like a piece to a jigsaw puzzle that matched close enough. In reality, however, the pieces never quite fit, and because I was so anxious to create the big picture, I forced the pieces to fit. But in the end, all this dis was leave an opening someplace else. In the end, all this meant is I never got the picture I wanted.
And I tried. I really did.
I took into consideration that maybe it was me; maybe I was no good at dating. Maybe lust was too overpowering and it became this interchangeable, mistakable thing that I often swapped with love. But even lust wears thin after the novelty fades away.
But no, this couldn’t be because the girl I loved would have to be the kind of girl that nothing would ever wear thin; not my lust, not my drive for her, not my uncontrollable feeling that made thirst unquenchable.
I would always be hungry for her. I would always want her. I would always need her. As for my love, she would have to be the girl that would push me beyond the lines of sanity—and no matter what happened; I wouldn’t care because it would all be worth it. She would be worth all the risk. And we could risk it all together, she and I.
One night, I met a girl from California at a bar 2nd Avenue. She said things like imagined a girl from California would say. And she was free spirited too, which I liked. She was pretty but slightly strange and provocatively dressed in an older, mature fashion.
As I recall, she was in town on business. She had a huge hotel room suite across from the U.N. Building. She was only slightly older and certainly accomplished.
I waited with her at some Midtown dive bar, wondering what would come next.
And I watched her look around as if she was a woman shopping at a store. She looked at the other men in the room and I swear, I felt as if I were an item placed in her so-called “Shopping cart,” and if something better came along, I believe she might have placed me back on the shelf and changed her mind to go with someone else.
But no, she took me back to her room and together we had a meaningless, worthless time, in which neither she nor I was satisfied at all but we played along and acted as if.
The girl fell asleep and me, I stood in front of this huge window that overlooked the Eastside River. I looked east to watch the sun come up. I looked across the tops of Long Island City, Queens. I looked through the window to watch the colors of sunrise and then I looked at the girl whose name never came through nor was her time even worth the mention; and I looked at the room I was in, which was high-priced, and I looked at the huge, kind-sized bed. I looked at the mess we made and the room service trays, and perhaps this was the first most intimately lonely time I could ever recall in my life.
“What are you doing,” asked the girl.
“Are you coming back to bed?”
“Just watching the sunrise,” I said.
The room was dim and the sunrise was everything to me. I knew that she was out there somewhere, the girl of my dreams, and that maybe one day, I would find myself somewhere with her, watching the sunrise, and she would know this meant everything to me.
My love would have to be the girl with the unstoppable smile. And she would get me too. She would understand. She would know it all without me having to say anything.
My love would be the kind of girl that when she stood in front of me, no matter what, I couldn’t keep my hands to myself. And when she kissed me, God, when she kissed me, all the previously pertinent things would simply vanish and become unimportant or inconsequential.
I always wondered why relationships ended the way they did. I always wondered if people would try it all over again if they knew things would end terribly.
I remembered hearing the saying, “It is better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all,” but I also remember wondering, “If this were so, has anyone ever died from a broken heart?” because this is what I was afraid of. I was afraid because what would happen if I found the girl of my dreams, only to find out that I was not the man of hers? What if I stepped up to the table to place my bet and I lost? How does someone come back from a loss like this? How does one deal with the lonesomeness after finding the perfect connection? And what if it’s all a lie and I stepped up to the plate only to find this all overstated and just plainly underwhelming?
Maybe this is why people remain stagnant. I assumed that love might possibly just be a hoax, and in just such an occasion, people connected for the selfishness of self and in fact, there was nothing selfless about love at all. But still, I wished for it.
As for my attempts at relationships; the worst ones were the wrong ones. And they were all wrong because I tried to love them for the wrong reasons. The worst thing about them was the trades I made and the exchanges we accepted because same as they weren’t for me; I wasn’t made for them either. We were more like mutual hostages to each other. And I remember some of the break-ups. I remember some of my poor choices in female company, and sometimes angrily, I wondered where my real friends were at that time because they never tried to warn me, “You might wanna be careful on this one.”
I remember having break-ups in which, afterwards, a few of my friends came over and told me, “We knew she wasn’t good for you,” and this infuriated me because then why didn’t they tell me before the eruption had to take place?
But in fairness, I was so jazzed to find love or feel it that, honestly, I probably wouldn’t have listened anyway.
What is love?
To me, she is that girl that makes your heart beat. To me, love is that girl that I cannot get out of my mind. She is that girl that makes me feel like a perpetual teenager and no matter how hard I try, whenever I see her I would feel like, “I’m just a kid,” and I would have no other choice but to give in to her, impulsively, unregrettably, and wholeheartedly.
Sometimes, I wanted to feel this so bad that I excused my poor choices and settled for a “Less-than” kind of romance. It beat feeling alone, or so I thought. But the worst part of this was felt when being with “that” girl and still feeling alone. And worse was being with “that” girl and wishing I was with someone else.
it was this thing
I swore if I saw her, I would know
And I would know because when I saw her,
a thousand things
would flash through my head at once.
And I would be able to see my future
I could see it all
without my past being this terrible deterrent,
which caused my fears to keep me still
And she would be the girl
She would be the one I could look at
without fear because
there is no fear . . .
not when she’s around.
I was thinking about where I was at this time, 17 years ago. I was digging through my own personal history book. I used to go to my job site and climb up on the roof a building at 909 3rd Avenue. I used to stand there look downtown at The Towers. I used to watch the sun come up, and sometimes, I would watch it go down as well.
Truth is . . .
All I wanted was love