February 15, 2005

about love

Kameron is writing about love again. It's funny, she talks about the people you'd walk through fire with, the people you look at and think, I know there are so many things wrong with you. But I will love you forever.

I think there's something strange about me, because I feel that way about four people, maybe five. There's one on his way to being there, and a couple more who are sort of more distant. I've gotten it on with precisely one of them - my ex - and intend to get it on with precisely none of them in the future. But I love these people. When she writes

You better get giddy. You better be thinking about them when you go to sleep at night, when you get up in the morning; you better be thinking of them in the middle of the night, shit, when you can't sleep. You better be wondering about what they'd have to say about your day, about that bizarre person you bumped into on the train. You better know when you see the absolute perfect thing for them. You'd better want nothing more than to move heaven and earth to hang out with them.

I think about my friends on the East Coast. They don't make my blood boil, but I don't ever really want to live apart from them. I want to raise kids with them, in a loose, extended-family sort of way. No one knows me better than they do - certainly not my biological family or the people I've considered sleeping with lately. I see things and I think, oh man, when can I talk to Hipster Monk about that? I call the Ex from the grocery store to tell him about the produce 3000 miles away, because I know he'll be interested.

And the more distant people? One of them got stupid drunk the last time I saw him, and his boyfriend and I walked him home, stopping every so often to let him throw up in the bushes. He almost never drinks, and I've never seen him that drunk, so it was interesting. Taking care of him I thought a lot about love, and how much I love him, and how I hadn't seen him in a year but there's this part of me that goes with him when he's in Europe or that midwestern I state or wherever. Because love is funny. Love is about what you feel when the person you love is being a moron as much as it is about how awesome they are. It's about affinity, and excitement, and what makes you both laugh, but it's about way more than that. I don't really know what it's about.

I've felt that blood-boiling insanity for a couple of people - one in high school, one in college, a few more people who were just overwhelmingly attractive - and I have to tell you, I'm not impressed. I don't really like any of the people I've felt it for anymore. I actually saw one of them recently, for the first time in three years. He's much the same. He's still a jerk. His life was and remains a mess partly because he can't make promises to people and keep them. He made me so crazy then: whenever I was around him, it was like this switch flipped and my body felt totally different; when he left, it was like I imagine withdrawal is. I don't feel like that about him anymore, and thank goodness for that.

The way I love my friends feels more real than that. The crazy-making attraction feels so sudden and disconnected from everything else that I suspect it of being just physical. Some kind of pheromone trip. I know loving someone you're sleeping with (or want to sleep with) is different from loving someone you'll never sleep with, but I don't know how. I suspect they're less different than usual for me: the Ex and I are really close, and while for me it feels a lot like my other friendships, it's a little different for him, I think. I think it's partly because my serious friendships are a little romantic, a little exclusive, a little intense. We're still friends in large part because I refused to believe that the end of our relationship meant we had to stop loving each other. It's different now, but not that different.

People have said to me that friendships, even ones that seem really serious, shift and move and go away. People leave. People's priorities change: they care more about their partners than about their friends. That doesn't make sense when I think about how I feel, or what I need. I miss my friends; I need my friends. Whether I'm dating someone or not doesn't change that. Bitch, Ph.D. has been writing about her open marriage and her boyfriend, and the way she writes about those relationships makes me think that maybe these long-standing, unconventional ways of loving more than one person can work. Lately I've been thinking that I might actually be able to do non-monogamy, if a good situation ever came up; and part of that is because I feel so strongly that I love my friends, but I can have more than one of them. Who knows. We'll see. I'm young yet.


bitchphd said...

FWIW, I think what people are telling you is wrong. Sometimes you do just know that certain people are and will always be there. The ones you can call up at 4 am after having not spoken in 6 months because something happened. The only explanation I've ever been able to come up with about it is that you know this person's character, and you know that unless they became a completely different person--and who does that?--that they are there, and you are there. It's true.

But. I will say. And this is the "old person saying wait 'til you grow up" moment, and I'm still trying to decide if it is true or not and you can tell me to fuck off if you like. The boyfriend? Most romantic passion I've ever felt. First time I've ever, really, had that. Didn't know what it was like before. Had lust. Had infatuation. Had love. Had friendship. Never had this. And there's a sense of permanence and foreverness there too. I think, maybe, that it's that I wasn't ready for it before myself. Maybe I had to figure some shit out. I don't know. I don't think I'd be able to have it without the other, the more familiar knowing. Don't know why. It's--amazing.

It doesn't change the other friendships at all. Isn't "better." Just really, really different.

North said...

I think it was true in their lives, you know? And I think the logistical things are real: I'm going to be closer with my friends if I'm physically closer to them, and that's hard with a group of people from all over the country who happen to be in Philadelphia right now because they went to school near there. Especially when we've got a future Buddhist monk and a future professor.

I'm not going to tell you to fuck off at all. I like other people's stories (especially yours, because damn you're funny), and it's not like you're telling me, live like me! or you'll go to hell! or something like that.

I have a post to write about the nature of friendship, how you know people, and Aristotle some time.

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