For almost half a year, Shelby and I have been using the word “love” to describe our feelings for one another.
It fits. It feels right.
In her case, this is fairly novel. It’s not a word often used in her family, nor in her previous relationships.
Love was openly expressed in my home as a child, usually to signal a transition or departure. “I love you,” we said at bedtime. “I love you,” we said when ending a phone conversation. “I love you,” we would holler when heading out the door.
That carries over to my generation. My kids are told they are loved when they go to bed and when they go to school. They hear it when they go off to their mom’s and when we talk on the phone.
Sometimes I throw it out there when they don’t see it coming.
Just to keep ‘em guessing.
I grew up to consider love a very powerful thing, expressed by an elastic word that varies according to need, yet always remains true to its meaning.
It can be solid as bedrock, or diaphanous as mist. It can provide links to the past, reassure in tremulous moments, and offer hope for the future.
I used the search bar at the top of this page to look for moments I have written about love in this blog.
I love Dacia. I tell her this now and then, and not just because it’s a kick to watch a smutmonger blush. I tell so she knows that year after year, it has been great to have her in my life, and I look forward to remaining in hers for years to come.
I love Marcus. He’s a great friend, a trusted confident and a white-hot lover. As our relationship has evolved over two decades, we’ve been many things to one another. We have a few decades left to see what more we can do with love.
I love Lucy, my ex wife. I can’t manage to erase all the years we put into creating our marriage. In most respects, I suppose that love is somewhat finite in its potential, rather like a project that was undertaken, executed and filed away. It remains intact and unchanging, but that lack of change is restrictive.
I once loved May, my ex girlfriend. Our break up was finalized by her move out west. I can hold a candle with the best of them. But we don’t speak, as she needs to put this all behind her, and communication keeps fresh the wounds of our separation. And so the candle is extinguished and put aside.
I love Shelby. It’s a good old-fashioned romantic love. It includes a healthy dose of longing, as we pine for each other when we are apart. When we are together, we pull out our love and look at it and pass it back and forth, still impressed by its comfort and intensity.
This love makes me very optimistic about life.
And, as we often think, it may not be so bad that geography keeps us so often apart. If we were always together, it might just be a bit much. We take this as it comes, and take care in doing so. It feels resilient, yet neither of us wants to see it damaged or challenged.
I want to be sure it is there when the dust settles—you know, if the dust ever settles.
So love abounds, yet I can see the limitations I place around it.
Just two years out of my marriage, I don’t seek someone who is with me day in and day out, laying claim to all the love I can generate.
Most of that energy, I reserve for now. My kids may get extra helpings as a result.
Still, love assumes many forms. It can seep out of the boxes we create to contain it.
And so it was that I found myself talking about love with my online girlfriend Madeline.
Much of our conversation occurs as though we are neighbors, trading notes on children and divorce, music and books, and just keeping track of one another’s daily lives.
We take comfort in each having found a friend who can understand our lives now, who can be there for one another in an ongoing way.
Because parenting alone can be tedious and lonely.
Of course, we aren’t neighbors. We are separated by twelve-hundred miles.
And while we may be great online chums, we also knew from our first and only weekend together that there is a strong sexual connection as well.
Once we started to talk about love within the context of our friendship, it was only a matter of time before we thought about meeting again for more of the fine sex we had.
Because single parents can have great appetites for romance.
We made plans.
We agreed to keep things simple. We didn’t want to interfere with the relationships we are building in our “real” lives.
Or to mess up our relationships with our shared boyfriend, Marcus.
We wanted it to be easy.