Valentines, dating, loving, and other matters of the heart!
V is for Valentine.
Ten musings on love for all you lovers out there:
A few weeks ago, desire began to nudge against my front door once more. (No, that is not a euphemism!) Something always begins to stir this time of the year.
It’s a combination of the light returning, longer days, the promise of Spring, and the forceful shooting up and out of the earth by young, robust, fresh flowers.
Nature, not yet in its throbbing, seductive, and heady blossoming, begins to tease and tickle us with a promise of the sensual pleasure that it is wildly, ever so innocently, stupendously good at.
2. Touch and Sexiness.
I’m missing touch—stroking hair, skin, the back of my neck.
Touch. I think it’s one of my love languages. I would like a lockdown lover.
With that admission, the razor in my bathroom starts to quiver, whether in fear at the gargantuan task at hand (or the potential frisson of excitement that its said owner is set upon)!
I suppose I do have a high standard that, as yet, I have not been courted with.
A standard exemplified in David Lynch’s “Wild at Heart,” where Nicolas Cage—in his finest role, I will argue—dressed in an oily snakeskin jacket, sings “Love Me Tender” to Laura Dern.
She, moaning in ecstasy and desire, practically comes as he croons his well-oiled, Elvis-like wail to her.
Maybe that’s where I’ve been going wrong all these years?!
3. Love is a verb.
It’s an action. And to admit that we don’t know how to love, without the aged map of the old games, stories, and protection strategies is to arrive in a moment of time with another and admit that we are learning.
I’ve just joined Tinder (and propositioned an ex that I’m back in contact with). Wish me luck, darlings!
I’m no expert in relationships. As the years have shuffled their deck, different lovers have come and gone, so to speak. A few stuck and became a longer intimacy of learning how to love each other. I guess the older I get, the wiser I become.
Most of us have no clue how to “do” love. (As if that’s even a possibility!) All we can do is own up to the fact that we’re clumsy and foolish, we stumble and f*ck up, we will hurt each other, and we will fiercely try our best.
4. Learning how to love.
I still don’t know if I want a full-time relationship. A husband, sure. I’d like to be someone’s wife. Call me old-fashioned, but there’s something about commitment that turns me on. Choosing another human, day after day. A conscious, daily choice to go all in.
It’s a weird thing, isn’t it? To celebrate love. The great Hallmark-ed and stamped validation to know that we are loved. By someone. Somewhere. The secret cards arriving through your letterbox with flowers and hearts and teddy bears on them. Mushy words and poems about roses and violets. Some words from “Anonymous”—sealed with a kiss and a question mark.
Does anyone even do this anymore? Are these the symbols of the modern-day commodified version of love? The “God of Love,” sponsored by a stationery company. If we’re talking about stationery, then I’d rather have a love poem or a song, words that crack the surface of life’s greatest abstract mystery. Or a new notebook!
Don’t get me wrong. I can be a real romantic at heart. Yet the romance that does it for me has nothing to do with a faux fancy or fantasy love!
Though, to be fair, Daniel Craig served mightily as my go-to fantasy lover in January. He seems to have done his job too because as soon as thoughts turn to him late at night, I seem to fall asleep.
5. Share the Love.
Last year, a dear friend and I dressed up as “Love Clowns” on Valentine’s Day. We wandered through the city streets of Manchester, sharing moments of the most poignant and heart-warming connection with folk.
We were so surprised by the response. The amount of joy we brought that day was incredible. Our inner playful fools were out and had a wondrous time.
And the hugs? Oh my! It seems quite ironic now in the days that we are living through where hugs seem to me to be the most precious commodity. The number of hugs that we gave and received was astounding.
We don’t hug as much as we should. Not those polite, awkward, civil hugs, but the long and lingering full-body hugs. The ones that last long enough for one’s serotonin levels to be affected and those feel-good hormones flood the system with well-being and love.
Yes, love is a drug. Bryan Ferry knew.
Love is about respect. It’s an act of generosity—a giving from the continuously flowing pot of life’s juice. It’s vast and infinite and does not ask nor need for anything more. It’s enough in itself.
It is within the minutest atom of every cell, vibrating with the hum of electricity. It’s God’s super-generator that powers everything on this Earth. And it’s the strongest force known to man.
What do you think Obi-Wan meant when he spoke to Luke about using the force?
6. Love is unbreakable.
That’s just a fact. Sure, our hearts can get hurt—badly and brutally. We can ball our eyes out and feel that we cannot bear the pain in our chest any longer. Our hearts can give up the ghost through the pain of losing love.
We hear about this when a partner dies not long after their beloved.
We hear it in all those songs that every one of us is guilty of crying into a box of tissues to—lamenting love and vowing to never again fall in love with anyone else.
What fools we are.
Are you a fool for love? I am.
Romantic love is clever too. It’s fuelled by lust and desire and 1,001 Arabian nights and saucy chemicals that taunt us with the rose-colored tint of pleasure and connection.
Romantic love is the sugar of Hallmark. It’s sex all over the place and then some more on top.
It’s laughing and becoming enchanted by the others’ unique and quirky foibles until one day—whether on the comedown of the honeymoon period or the waking up to the reality of life—we become disenchanted and disgusted by those once cute, now highly annoying habits.
Or, we buckle up, get real, and take the relationship into where deep love’s gateway resides. Into the landscape of vulnerability and damn good, clear communication.
It’s work. Sometimes hard work. But, oh my. It’s worth it!
I recall hearing this many years ago, and it blew my little red socks off! Listening is the highest act of love. Simply listening. Absolute presence and attention, given fully, without anything in return.
Let’s be honest here, how many of us are highly proficient in the art of listening?
My guess is very few. Most of the time, we are waiting for the moment to put our two pennies worth in whilst another is speaking. To hear our own voice.
Listening is an act and art of receiving. If someone is giving you their words, then to receive them fully, we need to let them land. Deep. Deeper than the clever mind with its clever answers.
And sometimes, we listen without the need for petty words. Words fill the space. That space can scare the bejesus out of us, and yet, it holds the key to true intimacy. The silent, spacious, silence of real intimacy.
8. Love yourself first.
Yes, it’s a cliché, but like most clichés, it’s true.
For if we are amiss on the ship of relating with love, kindness, understanding, and compassion toward ourselves—the one person we will be obliged and blessed to share a bed with for the whole of our lives—then we have to start there.
What does self-love look like to you?
How does it feel?
Have you asked yourself lately what you need?
Do you listen to your body?
Do you take time to self-pleasure, to enjoy the pure wonder and ocean of pleasure that is yours alone?
9. Be willing to be surprised!
My dad called the other day and informed me that the Rabbi had phoned him enquiring if his daughter was married.
“Matchmaker, Matchmaker make me a match.” I love “Fiddler On The Roof.”
So, apparently, the Rabbi has a friend, a doctor, based in Brussels. He asked my dad, “Would your daughter move there?”
Without missing a beat, my dad replied, “Of course!”
So much for women’s rights.
Though I guess the prospect of his daughter getting married (and to a Jewish doctor no less) seems high on the list of dreams come true for my dad. Bless him.
Actually, he’s pretty cool and only wants me to be happy. And to choose someone kind.
Kind. (My inner masochist takes notes solemnly!)
I cannot leave you without mention of our hearts. That dear, glorious muscle.
From the opening words to my novel The Original Keepers Of Magic:
“The bloody pumping visceral muscle of the heart, all arterial knotting and venous pathways, quivers, quakes, and beats to the time of its own making. A clock of the macabre, a held fist, a meaty animal of passions, weighing in at around 300 grams, or 10 ounces, it is all valves and chambers speaking of whispered rooms and caverns of dark and bloody secrets. It keeps rhythm to the pulse of around 100,000 notes each day, and blesses our lives, if we find ourselves so lucky, three billion times before saying, ‘Adieu.'”
We have a multitude of heart-bearing phrases that describe the indescribable and pulsing melody of our heart’s unique journey—love felt, love lost, love requited, and, simply, love itself.
Heart break. Heart ache. Heart full. Heart less.
But the heart doesn’t break, does it? It expands. It stretches like God’s playdough each time we take the risk to open it. It hurts to do so, sometimes shockingly so. And yet, oh how sweet it is too.
The heart’s capacity for love astounds us—take us to our knees. Can take our breath away.
And that love can be for anyone and anything: partners, parents, children. Our dearest friends. Our homes. Our eyes, breasts, thighs. Our laugh and our tenderness.
It can be for art and music and musicians we throw our knickers at! For food and smells and tastes, the scent of Jasmine in the air, the sound of the beat that shakes our feet. For a land we travel to.
For mountains and lakes and seas. For the obscure and the irreverent. For God. For community. For tribe. For our country. For our planet. For each other.
Yes, the heart can love it all.
It can love our arrogance and pride. It can love our shame and weakness. It can love our flaws and imperfect places, maybe even loving those more.
It can love our meanness and unkindness. It can love our jealousies and greed. It can love us—warts and all. (Yes, even warts!)
So, there you go. A brief wander through the vagaries of musings on love.
Whatever St. Valentine gifts you this week, just be love, darlings.