The chaos of the world? Poison gas in Mosul? The potential pillaging of protected national parks? The brooding divide among humans both nationally and globally? The fear of growing disdain for civil liberties? Alternative facts? The crime that is putting ketchup on a steak? What I hate about the Oscars?
We’re not going to talk about any of that. Not to say those things couldn’t use a good talking to. However, today we shall discuss something that strikes fear into the hearts of so many. A thing that has compelled me towards insanity and riddled my history with failure. It can keep children, elders and all those in between up at night and plague whatever sleep they find with nightmares. It can make you sick or make you whisper to the gods for death, if that be the only reprieve. Humanity’s greatest addiction. Far beyond any drug or substance, or fuel source or war. Far more damaging on an unrelenting global scale that any act or deed, created by man or nature.
Oh yes, that’s right. We’re talking about it.
I’ll start with this.
A preface, if you will. At this point in time, I write from the point of view of a total romantic failure.
Maybe you already knew that, even with the cover of a secret identity. Despite whatever my intentions may have been, what always ended up being was heartbreak. Sometimes it was my own. Well, it was always mine as well, but after a few I got to toughening up. The sin of breaking someone else’s is mine though. More than once. More than twice. We don’t need to keep counting. Most of the strife was my own doing. Though I have been rather lucky, really. There have been a good number of kind and beautiful women who have attempted to care for this battered soul. And though I may have failed them all, I suggest that I was never cruel. Certainly, never intentionally.
Now let’s make something clear. We’re not talking about love here. Love is different. Love is part of romance, but not exclusive to it. And there are times when romance is void of love. Love is too big and vague to be brought down to define the courtship habits of young humans, whatever their preference. Love is universal. You can and should and whether you realize it or not, have love for all. And even more defined love is not so tainted as romance. I know this. I helped spawn another human. That is love. Pure and sweet. For reals.
That relationship that produced my child failed, by the way. Mostly my doing, but the future is brighter than the past. We get along. Love for your child can help make great strides toward forgiveness. Their happiness is vastly more important than your own. That’s love.
But romance is something else. Ironically enough, even the name is derived from a now fallen empire.
Having yet had the ultimate success associated with dating, I can tell you a lot about what not to do.
Not that I envy the cute couple. I don’t. Those two humans that bumble about in the faces of others so very blatantly and going on with a total absence of discretion regarding their romantic status. They make me sick. I’ve always been convinced those types always harbor a deep resentment that is so vast that they cannot even begin to understand it. But maybe not. Maybe I’m just paranoid.
But even in forms more mild, my rage is stirred. My fridge is littered with “save the dates” with faces of my friends and family going on about how they’re legally and fiscally combining their families. I’ve watched those same people yelling at each other about the stress of planning that stupid party they’re throwing to commemorate the occasion. Its madness.
I’ve always hated cutesy love. It’s disgusting. Public displays of affection and all that. I know that makes me strange and mean and bitter. I’ve been told that before.
I can still remember moments of bliss. Many a time in the wee hours of the morning. Fixed upon the eyes of a woman, who if nothing else, mattered more than anything in that moment. Or as a setting sun hit a moment in a way so perfect it could make anyone not involved violently sick. Listening to the semiconscious mumble of a familiar voice say a familiar thing. The warmth. It was real. I was there. I saw it.
I remember them all. Another thing I’m lucky for. Though I’ve never been a boyfriend very well or for very long stretches of time, nearly every intimate encounter I’ve had has been unique. They all mattered. They were all important, and still are. They have not gone. They live inside of me, paired perfectly with the regret of their crumbling. And I’ve done my darnedest to make something from those memories. Literature or art or a tune or something. That’s what art is for. Or so I believe.
And now that I’ve made it quite clear that I have no idea what I’m talking about outside a seemingly self-created bitterness that plagues my behaviors, I’ll tell you this.
I’m a sucker. Every damn time. Even after being a hermit for twenty percent of a decade, or so. That’s the thing with it. There are parts of it that when drummed up right, just get it. And as much as I proclaim to detest it, my hands are not clean. I’ve fallen. Deep, sometimes.
Perhaps it is the impending spring. And all that William Blake I drunkenly read in college probably did do anything to sway that. But even through loads of bitterness, if that something, that undefinable something is there, it cannot be ignored. You will never have any warning of it, which in a way makes it crueler than the nuclear bomb.
Even this whole experiment. This weekly publication began because of romance. My attempt to gain the attention of she, whom I was attempting to woo. It’s one of those things that maybe I’ve figured out. I think women appreciate thoughtfulness. Far more than men do. That’s why you should write letters and always sing right to the prettiest girl in the room. And very certainly, my failures have root in lack of thoughtfulness.
We’re going try. I’m going to try. A young man in his mid-twenties should be romancing. It’s good for him. For most of history, it was romance or war for young men. Many times, both.
At least until I grow old enough to quell the youthful desire, I shall get myself back out there. For even though it often eludes me, I must pursue. Even if it be madness, I must. Madness is a definite, in fact.
Because maybe, just maybe, there’s a young woman with green eyes and lily fair skin and likes to dance, just waiting for a song to be written about her. She probably doesn’t even realize yet. Or perhaps her fear is just as palpable. But we won’t know until we try.
So, try we shall.