The thing about love, I said at work on Friday afternoon, at dinner last night, at brunch this morning, is that whatever type it is and whomever you do it with, it’s always hard. It’s hard when you’re partnered, it’s hard when you’re single, it’s hard when you’re somewhere in between. It’s hard when you love someone who doesn’t love you back and it’s hard when someone loves you whom you don’t love back. It’s hard with all of your families, the ones you’ve chosen and the ones you haven’t. It’s worth it, it’s always worth it, but it’s hard and the rewards don’t always seem to balance out the costs.
Love is behavior, I said at various times, the other afternoon and last night and this morning. It’s not just how you feel, it’s what you do. Passion is intuitive but compassion is learned, day by day if you’re lucky, and hardly ever at all if you’re not. Sometimes the years pass by and your heart calcifies and atrophies because no one can give you what you need no matter how many times and how many ways you ask. You’re able to avert your eyes from people who call out to you because how can you know that there will ever be enough? How can you give what you don’t have? How can you accept what you cannot reciprocate? The longer the math doesn’t work out the smaller you shrink and the tighter you fold, the darker you fall.
Sometimes someone will refuse to participate in your starvation economy and will reach out and try to save you. Sometimes they will catch you and hold you and carry you, sometimes they will let you rest for a while, sometimes they will be so generous regardless of your protestations that you will find your hands overflow with their good gentleness. Kindness can soothe you enough to open and uncover, can sometimes allow you to save someone else if you get the chance. It’s a big luck and a bright sun when you get it right, the thing that makes you fully human.
You can go a long time, though, not understanding how it all works, fighting the whole time and running out of breath. You can go a long time just partly a person.