Welcome to the Church of the Wayward Gypsy. Is there anything like the month of May to make our hearts and heads turn to the idea of love? And what is it about the month of May that seems to make the very air quiver with love’s longing? Today, in honor of that particular and peculiar madness, we’re having story hour. So, gather ‘round children, and let me tell you a tale of true love.
Once upon a time there was a girl who thought she knew what love is. She had read great volumes on the subject, had watched countless romantic movies, had imagined its overwhelming greatness in her head, and had spent hours philosophizing with friends as to its nature. She had even been in relationships that were based upon love. Alas, after so much effort on her part, what she knew of love, to paraphrase Carl Sandburg, was an approximation. This, because what she failed to realize as so many had before her, is that love is beyond definition.
A well-read girl with a penchant for words, she turned to dictionaries for help, and found none. Definitions were based upon feelings. “To feel affection for another…” she read, and “a feeling of warm personal attachment…” or, “a beloved person…” even “the personification of sexual feelings for another.” None of it defined love, it only phrased how love feels. Even as phrased feelings the definitions fell far short.
Over the years there were many times when the girl was tempted to give up on love altogether. Love, for all its loftiness, had left her wallowing in a ditch more than once. Love, for all its sweetness, had reached in with serrated talons and ripped the very heart from her on one occasion. Love was a fickle trickster wearing clever disguises, cajoling her to climb great mountains only to cruelly push her off at the top. It often came on like a lamb and then left with little warning, snarling and spitting like a wolf.
Well into her career of searching for love and its defining, and after a particularly trying bout with it, she exclaimed, “Enough! I will leave this love issue to the philosophers and dreamers. I’ll be bound by it no more.” Once again, the intelligent girl had made a foolish statement with absolute certainty. As most enlightened beings know, this is a sure way to challenge and humor the gods, often spurring them into I-Told-You-So action. Still, she went to the river, and with tremendous fury threw stones into it, the whole time cursing the ridiculous conundrum of love, and the irrational quest for it. She did this until her arm burned and her cheeks were hot with tears that would no longer come. She collapsed upon a boulder, exhausted, and sighed out, “Enough. Please, enough already.”
She felt better after that, a little bit hollow, but more herself. She felt more in charge of who she was and what she wanted from her life. She began to enjoy her time alone; expending her emotions on artistic endeavors; going for long walks in the woods; eating whatever she wanted at whatever time of day she felt like; sleeping when sleep felt good and not worrying about what the light, or lack thereof, in the sky dictated in terms of nocturnal rest. “Ah,” she said to herself. “This is a good life. This feels right. I’m happy at last.” However, this statement was only mostly true, but she was very adept at ignoring certain feelings, so the nagging little itch at the base of her reasoning didn‘t bother her a bit.
Then one day, she met a stranger who didn‘t seem like a stranger at all. In fact, she felt she had known him all her life. She immediately recognized that he was a good man, a humble man, a man who more than equaled her intelligence, a man who clearly knew the value of good humor, a man of great compassion, and one who obviously had instant affection for her. However, she was not to be so easily swayed. A stubborn girl, she balled up her fists and whispered to the night air, “I find you amusing and charming, and there’s nothing I don’t like about you, but I will not allow myself to love you.” Of course, she did not say this aloud to him as that would have been cruel, but she resisted the feelings she felt stirring in her and wrote them off as a mere physical attraction and need.
Much to her surprise, the man stayed. He was patient and understated in caring for her. He showed his feelings by doing little things for her without her ever asking, like fixing a screen door, bringing her dinner, stroking the knots from her long hair with his strong, but gentle fingers. He demanded nothing of her, save that she allow him to love her. She felt it was the least she could do, given how much attention and affection he bestowed upon her. One balmy August night as he smoothed her hair, she could feel her resistance waning. She thought, “This feels an awful lot like what I used to imagine love would be.”
Then one warm, late Summer morning she awoke to find herself wrapped in his long arms, his breath soft against her neck echoing the slight breeze coming in through the open window. The sun streamed in through the blinds as if to say, “Open your eyes, Girl. See.” She looked at him as he lay there, still mostly asleep. She looked at him for a very long time without him knowing. She saw with clarity. Finally, he opened his eyes and caught her looking. He smiled, his eyes still heavy-lidded with sleep, and whispered, “Good Morning, Sweetheart.” She smiled back, and before she could stop herself, whispered back, “I love you.” In return, never was a cheek more tenderly touched, never was there a kiss more sweetly placed upon a woman’s shoulder than his to hers. She at once understood that she had, at long last, found the definition of love. It was there, waiting patiently, in his eyes.
After all those years she finally understood why she had never found a good definition, as there is no such thing when it comes to love.