It’s an age-old truism, but love is hard. Love bites, as Def Leppard would say. And it doesn’t matter to which kind of love you refer – it’s all painful at some point. Because for love to be real you must give your heart, fully, to someone else. You release it into someone else’s hands, give up control. So if he leaves, or you leave, even when you know you’re coming back, you ache for that bit of your heart that’s moving in the opposite direction. That person who carries it along. Giving yourself to someone else is risky business.
I remember driving away from my boyfriend when I was in college. He lived in L.A., I lived in Kansas, and the drive or flight home was always brutal. I don’t think we were engaged yet on the particular trip I’m remembering, but I knew he was The One, so it was painful to leave. It felt wrong, like “Hello, you’re going the wrong way! He’s back there!” It made me nearly hyperventilate with fear that I wasn’t going to see him for months, or maybe ever. You never know. Passion breeds unrealistic fears. Panic – that’s the right word. It was panic.
I cried through parts of Arizona, with it’s billowy clouds and wide expanses of red sand and towering bluffs. It was the perfect landscape for feeling my feelings – it gave my mind room to expand and breathe and think. It rained for part of the time, too. I composed a few love-struck poems in the span of time it took to cross that state. And they’re good. Thank you, Arizona.
Last week I left my baby girl for the first time in her life. She is just over a year old, and we had never been apart for more than a few hours, and then I left for five days. Flying away from her I felt the same sort of pain in my chest I felt driving away from the man who is now my husband. I have the same passion for my baby, with her bright blue eyes, her sweet smile, the darling freckle on her lower back that peeks out of her diaper when she crawls. I’m totally in love. It is a different kind of love, obviously, but no less real. No less deep. No less panic-inducing when I have to leave her behind thinking “You’re going the wrong way! She’s back there!”
But now I’m on my way home, and I cannot wait to see her dimpled cheek smiling at me, panting breathlessly and crawling toward me when I come in the door. This is the part where love is wonderful. Love lifts us up where we belong, as Joe Cocker and Ewan McGregor would say. Where would we be without it? In a dull, passionless, heart-numbing place of which I want no part. Yuck. Thank goodness for the mess and muck of love, even with the pain it can cause. When I think of my baby girl, and the man I still adore all these years later, I know that the risk of giving your heart to someone else is absolutely worth it.