What is this thing called love?

"the drum is basic, complicated. the heart. but common, somewhat monotonous and redundant it is one voice that is always percussive."   --Ralph Lemon, geography

"the drum is basic, complicated. the heart. but common, somewhat monotonous and redundant it is one voice that is always percussive."   --Ralph Lemon, geography

My old pal J and I had a brief email exchange about anxiety. She handles her anxiety by being married (as did her mother), and I handle mine by not being married (as does my mother, with partial success). I mention to J about the dead middle of the bed, my arms askew, that means so much to me.

I keep a dream book. In it, I’m often admonished by old friends like J to get it together. I am late or unprepared, eternally missing the set of resources I need to take care of business. In my dream book, my son dies, light pours into high-ceilinged rooms, or a shoreline opens up beside me in a restaurant. In real life last year, my plumber and my mechanic cheated me. People tell me those things would not have happened if I was married (to a man). Perhaps I would’ve just dreamed they did.

But yesterday I did a headstand for the first time in years. Not because I couldn’t have been doing them all along, but because I forgot about them and nobody reminded me. Spouses remind you of stuff. Sometimes this is called nagging, but a lot of times it’s really helpful, even though maybe you don’t want to hear it because it’s one more thing to have to be responsible for. Yesterday morning my yoga instructor quite nonchalantly said, Anybody who’s working on headstand take this time to do so. In 2009, the last time I held a full-time job that I had to commute to, I regularly popped into headstand at the office to help myself deal with having to interact with co-workers while doing the work I was hired to do in a repurposed storage space. (I’m not much of a coffee drinker.)

In order to answer that infernal, cosmic question, What is your purpose here? I have to dial way back and say OK not Aqua Zumba or rewriting one poem for 11 years or growing arugula into January or even discovering fabulous patterned tights in clearance bins. I’m here to dish out love in big scoops. 

I am here to love, and what makes this a challenge right now is Boko Haram. I am here to love every soul who kidnaps and massacres. It’s my job to identify them as fellow human beings and love them with the intent that just a glimmer of it will be enough, one day, to spare a life. A knife drops from a hand and both bodies walk away. The Matisse Cut-Outs show was open 24 hours a day during that last stretch before it closed at MOMA in New York. That’s the kind of love I’m talking about. That’s what I want for those Boko Haram guys, an incessant invitation toward love and beauty. 

Mister Señor Love Daddy is my Icon of the Day.

People cheat me. That’s kind of OK. It feels the same as that tiny stretch of time after I fell over trying to get into headstand yesterday. It feels like that triangle I make on the mat with the crown of my head and my forearms, the space in that triangle that waits for me to fill it with a renewed trust that wipes out apprehension and embarrassment and anxiety until the next time I fall.

In the middle of my bed at night sometimes I do tryouts. When I was a cheerleader (who am I kidding, I’m still a cheerleader), that’s what auditions were called. I do potential partner tryouts then fall asleep laughing because when I place various guys next to me my imagination shouts NO super loud inside my entire body. I suspect my feet are just too smooth and soft right now. My feet are heaven and yours are…not. Please go. I know I’m probably missing out. I’ll get serious someday and log into OKCupid and let you know how that turns out.

My ex-spouse and I created an in-house card company called Out/Back before we even got married (seriously, we were project-oriented). We made valentines with bubble wrap, ribbons, newspaper, you name it. We agreed, I think, that the love message was critical, and that we were lucky in it. We mailed love to our friends. Then we stuffed our kids with it and we were done!

I told a short-term 21st century boyfriend I loved him. High on Vicodan after oral surgery, and telling his truth, he replied, You love everybody. (Slurred. You luh errrbody…) He was right, and I told him so.

Call your mother and ask her about love and just see what she has to say.