(Blurry, soft image taken as a screen shot from Disclosure — “You & Me” Flume Remix video on Youtube)
In response to The New York Times article “650 Prompts for Narrative and Personal Writing.”
471. “Have You Ever Been In Love?”
What am I going to say, but, may I? I’ve been drinkin’ / I’ve been thinkin’. Yes, I’ve been in love.
Over and over.
With the same woman. With different women.
There are different kinds of love, I agree, but let’s not take for granted the “in” in “in love.”
We’re talking about the capital L-love. The one that makes us stutter. L-l-l-love. Le love. La love. Do Re Me Fa So La Ti Love. The one that makes us sing.
I write in verse to converse with love.
It’s the falling in love, that’s making me high / it’s the being in love that makes me cry, cry, cry — MJ
Capitalism celebrates this (kind of) love once a year. Humans mate year round. “They don’t call it rising in love.”
Before I fell in love for the first time, I was an angry virgin. “Are you mad at something?” was the second most common question asked of me (back then). Apparently, I frowned all the time (back then). “What are you thinking?” (“¿Qué estás pensando?”) was the most common question. Apparently, I was a thoughtful virgin, too.
All you need is love, love / Love is all you need — JL PM GH RS
Yes, I have been in love, and the first time was in high school, to a girl who ran long distance (cross-c). She had shin splints, but she still ran. She was addicted to coffee, but she still passed. She had good taste in music, and we still argued. But never too much. Long distance our relationship turned out to be, after two proms together, mine and hers. Before that, in the beginning, I realized I loved her out of nowhere, one spring. I was taking out the trash in my parents’ house, when I caught a note from the music playing on my laptop upstairs — the faintest of sounds, but audible — I ran up to hear it, because it was too catchy. Indeed, she (the first her) had given me a mix CD of her favorite music. Track ten, I saw. I hit replay. I’m not saying it’s your fault / although you could have done more / You’re so… “Naive,” I saw. I know she knows that I’m not fond of asking / True or false it may be.
The first love is the purist love. Nothing we did was wrong. Red flags didn’t exist. Only pink flags, white flags, heart shaped flags, and juicy mango raspa snow cones out in the suburbs of a swampy hometown we shared and explored and called never by its name because we hadn’t left yet and we were like so young so full of teenage love melting the angst that we had been familiar with, with, with.
“Come over,” I said that one spring.
“I love you,” I said.
She did, too.
I almost killed her, my first love. I had nightmares about it, after. For real.
We were driving to a nightclub for 18+. I had picked her up from her Korean BBQ restaurant. My VW trunk, full of empty beer cans. The song I played from my MP3 to cassette — “Upside Down,” by Diana Ross — before I crossed what must have been a red light.
A Camero hit the passenger side, her side. You’re turning me, you’re giving love instinctively / Upside down, boy you turn me / inside out and / round and round. Just a bruise. We didn’t go out to the club after all. My car, totaled. “Yo también choqué un auto,” my dad said, rescuing us from the scene. “Antes de mudarme. Los autos saben si te vas.” I left for college the following week. She and I broke up a little less than two years later.
“I’m in love with someone else,” she said.
Love is all that you need. Love is all you need / All you need is love.
I didn’t love another until the next mix CD, someone gave me, one with Noah and The Whale, Iron & Wine, and Young the Giant. She was my second her.
I never told her I loved her, not until the end.
Before then, we had to road tripped to see one another. A mutual acquaintance had tied us up. “You remind me of her dad,” his mom had told my friend. Convoluted? But, whatever.
Love became something to do. Love was something to plan for. Love had something to do with friends and family.
But when you strike out in each of the above categories, things are said “not to pan out.” We did it that last time, and we broke one, and (before that) the family bumped heads with I. Too much ego.
The first and only time I told her I loved her, told her the truth that is, was during our break up call. I figured it would help her see. I figured it would help me keep. But love isn’t a lasso. Love isn’t an excuse. Love is, is, is. Tanlines, the third to last track on her mix CD to me: “Real Life,” For a minute I was lost / I looked away / I was looking for a home, I was looking for a home / You might think I’m still that way / It’s only natural / It was a past life thing, it was a past life thing.
All you need is love. Love need is you all. Love all need you is. Need is you all love. “You,” that one her I dare not call by a number, first, second, third, or dare to call, though I want to, period.
Love scrambles your eggs over easy, sometimes. I remember and can’t seem to forget all the big things that we made into little things, or was it the other way around, made all the big deals out of the little things? How many times, in my mind, sung I, You’re mine, you’re mine / And you’re still so fine, been havin’ conversations about break ups / Are we gonna even make it, oh. We took that a little too far. Don’t sleep when you know you got a good girl.
I kept a dream journal that year. And I dreamed of you every night. What was it? Was it only your looks? Was it my vanity? Yours? I needed to be with you every fucking waking dreaming second of my conscious subconscious unconscious life death and where has that left you because for me I’m here on a white page and writing this makes it feel like you’re on the other side. Did you always see me in reverse? You found enough faults in me. The cup of my insecurities brimmed with your lava. And yet, here I am, like you wrote about me in a poem, drowning in my mediocrity. Lol. So mean. I liked it better when you brought breakfast. When your breasteses [were] my breakfast. When I woke up in the kitchen, naked, saying to myself how the hell did…
I can’t. I can’t. We have seen one another cry, throw up, and go away. It all might as well have been at once. Now we hide behind our own lyricism: as we hid behind veils, held hands through kerchiefs, made love in other people’s skin.
Y como Manuelita, te fuiste. And like a cliché, I left. No playlist, no mix CD here. Only the book you gave me, a hell of a fantasy, about a woman who turns into a witch, and a man who burns his manuscript. Or was it about a woman of golden beauty, and a man who went insane to be with her? I recall a talking cat. I remember two lovers who never forget one another, a country who always remembers its author.
Love. Love is all you need. And too late I decided, very (self-) consciously, to become a man. No quotes necessary. And el-ouh-vee-ee stopped being an abstraction, became only a collection of sounds, and my actions took on weight. Gold. Silver. Copper. Bronze? Argentina. Two stars. Forever second place. Until 2018… wanna bet?
This her and I met thousands of feet in the air.
She fell in love, who knows when. I did the night we put a candle between us, and a bottle of good Malbec in our tummies, on a rooftop. But for the first time, love didn’t hurt. It only felt right. We sweat away the lines we had previously drawn between friendship and loveship. We blurred the words that space the languages we were using. We were one another’s rebounds, and three-pointers.
And I got a lump in my throat / cuz you’re gunna sing the words wrong, sang Vance Joy. I want to be your left hand man, in that mix CD you gave me, which I rarely play these days. But damn it is good. Acoustic, all. Which, to you, means, I suppose, real. And it is. I suppose. Were we?
A chill chick you were to me. In love you were to me. And I made myself free, or you set me free. And I just wanna know, I just wanna know if you’re gonna stay / I just gotta know / I can’t have it any other way.
I closed the door on the taxi you got in in, in, in…to? So confused now. But you were born to be together with someone. Was I? I think, feel so, feel as much. When I sing. I want someone to sing with. Till then, I sing to other artists’ songs.
Love. “Love is a battlefield. Love stinks. What is love? Abandoned love. Armour love. Bad Lover. Beyond Love. Bizarre Love Triangle. Is This Love? The Boys Will Love Us. Broken Love. Calibre – Our Love Part 2. Can You Feel The Love Tonight? Can’t Hide Love. Can’t Live Without Your Love. California Love. I Used To Love Her. Could You Be Loved? Creatures of Love. Digital Love. Dirty Love. Do You Love Me Still? Double Love. Drunk In Love. Enter Galactic (Love Connection). Everybody Loves a Carnival. Fall In Love. Fallen In Love. Far Away (Hercules & Love Affair Remix). Fear of Love. Feel The Love. The Fields of Love. Fool for Love. Friday I’m in Love. From Russia with Love. Funky Love. The Game of Love. Genius of Love. Ghost of Our Love. Give A Lil’ Love. Give Me Your Love. Hard To Love. Hello I Love You. Hey Love. I Believe (When I Fall In Love). I Just Love You More. I Like Love (I Love Love). I Love You. I Love You. I Love You. I Love You. I Love You (Demo). I Want to Know What Love is. I Won’t Say I’m In Love. I’m Gonna Love You Just a Little More. I’m Gonna Love You Too. I’m Gonna Make You Love Me. I’m In Love With My Car. I’m Not in Love. Lay All Your Love On Me. Let me Love You. Let Your Love Grow Tall. Like A Lover. Limit To Your Love. The Look of Love. Love Blind. Love Cry. Love Don’t Let Me Go. Love Drought. Love Foolosophy. Love Games. Love In The Dark. Love is Real. Love is To Die. Love Kills. Love Like a Sunset Part 1, Part 2. Love Makes You Feel Ten Feet Tall. Love Makin’ Music. Major Minor Love. Make Love. Make My Love (Acapella). Message of Love. Mmm Skyscraper I Love You. Modern Love. No Love. Nothing Can Change This Love. Old Love. One Hand Loves the Other. One Love (People Get Ready). Only Love Can Break Your Heart. Our Love Is Here To Stay. Part Time Lover. Silly Love Songs. Perfect Love Gone Wrong. Pride (In The Name of Love). I Wanna Be Your Lover. Ready For Love. Real Love. Real Love. Running Out Of Love. Say Goodbye to Love. She Loves You. She Will Be loved. Show Me Love. Skinny Love. Slow Love. So Much Love To Give. Tainted Love. Spartacus Love Theme. Stoned In Love. I’m In Love With a Stripper. Take A Chance On Love. Tattooed Love Boys. Terrible Love. (There is) No Greater Love. This Boy’s In Love. This Love. Too Afraid to Love You. True Love. We Found Love. Who Loves The Sun. Whole Lotta Love. Winters Love. You Are My Love.
And So Many More.
Love makes us regret. Like I regretted letting you (the last her, it feels, another you, like a “W” was your name), regretted letting you go all last night, tossing under my white ceiling, in bed sheets that felt too big for just one guy. Then again, love makes you doubt. Like I doubted all throughout our relationship. Overall, eh, bad, nasty, wtf, and then again, where did that leave us, why did we break, why did I, Why Can’t We Be Friends, how can we come back together, total veil now, I can’t bare to write normal, I can’t bare to use a period because then people might focus, people might judge, you could be reading and then you’ll see how burnt my french toast is for you. You is you, my ex-double-you. You know who you are. You were the one who’s name I imaged writing my own name next to for a long, long time. What the hell then were we, and are we something now? Where Are You Now? I can’t, no, can’t write any more…
And I could have, should have, would have started here, would have liked to have started here, before my logic and reason and thoughts went out the mo-fuuh window:
My friend and I cracked open some beers he had brought over. We were in my parents’ yard. The time of day: gloam.
“I have never been in love,” he said.
“Like, in love, in love?”
“What is love?” I asked him, not in song.
He laughed. “Man, you know.”
And I couldn’t think of a better definition. Not even after we wound up in an 80s dance club that night, and sweated our eye lashes off to good music. God damn. And I have, New York Times: I have been in love. And, as you can read, clearly or unclearly, I have been for a really long time. (CODA: Had I waited to sober up before I wrote this, it would have made more “sense,” but the feeling might have gone. Best to write drunk, as they say; drunk in love / we be.)