It was a strange and delicious emotion, an intense dreaming and anguish…I became humanized and lifted out of my youthful savagery….But the fates were unkind and we were not allowed to marry.
Khal Drogo waved him away. “I need no man’s help,” he said, in a voice proud and hard. He stood, unaided, towering over them all. A fresh wave of blood ran down his breasts from where Ogo’s arakh had cut off his nipple. Dany moved quickly to his side. “I am no man,” she whispered, “so you may lean on me.”
Love me when I least deserve it, because that’s when I really need it.
To write a good love-letter, you ought to begin without knowing what you mean to say, and to finish without knowing what you have written.
Love doesn’t grow at a steady rate, but advances in surges, bolts, wild leaps, and this was one of those.
Although it took her some tie to admit it, Merav began to sense that her body was only a receptacle for his desire, while her own desire floated elsewhere, in another dimension, invisible even to herself. They half-jokingly referred to these times as Letting Him Have His Way With Her, as if she were consenting to the use of her body, lending it out…
…He took his pleasure; in the end, she could see it so clearly. Did he think this was a kind of giving? Maybe. But what was she giving him? Permission to be taken? Finally, she stopped asking why it was enough for him and began asking why it was enough for her.
I hope your heart is broken many times because it means you would have loved many times.
Any kiddie in school can love like a fool,
But hating, my boy, is an art.
But this love business – so far, it had been not very satisfying. He had been involved with girls he liked; he had been involved with girls he didn’t like. In neither case had he ever really felt…whatever it was that he imagined he was supposed to feel. He was shy, so that even though he showed determination at work, and playing hockey he positively enjoyed giving an opponent a hard check, he shrank before a girl who attracted him, and this made the search for someone who would make him feel whatever it was he was supposed to feel particularly difficult. Moreover, he wasn’t cold-blooded, so he couldn’t pursue and abandon girls with the same relish as some of his friends, his best friend in particular, rather, he had a sympathetic streak that, in the matter of making conquests, seemed much more like a weakness than a strength.
“But – and again, who am I to judge? – I don’t think that is the only way. I think you can also escape suffering through … love. When you really love someone and they really love you, you have desire, but not in the sense of wanting things that you can’t get or shouldn’t want in the first place. It’s not even that your desire has been satisfied. It’s not satiety. You lie in that person’s arms and you aren’t thinking about what’s next or what’s wrong or what you want. You aren’t trying to get someplace. Rather than doing or proving or striving for something, you just sort of are, as a lyric poem or work of art is supposed to be, or like a big boulder that’s really just there. And again, it’s not that you’ve gotten what you desire and so are satisfied; it’s that there is no doingness or provingness or strivingness. To my mind, this sounds a little like nirvana and I’d say you are emptied of your self. The difference, maybe, is that in my scheme you aren’t just emptied, you are also filled – but filled with one big thing that replaces all the ten million nettlesome, egotistical things that are inside you as a rule. And with that on thing comes a feeling of joy – not no feeling. You’re like a big boulder that somehow has levitated six feet off the ground. Then there is one more thing, which is wanting to make the person you love happy, to give yourself to him or her, but this wanting is not a feeling external to love or the result of any incompleteness; it is one component of that big single thing. And serving the person you love isn’t something you ‘do.’ It is entirely natural. It’s guided by the same part of your brain, whatever it is, that controls your heartbeat and your – oh – kidney function or whatever.”
The fickleness of the women I love is only equalled by the infernal constancy of the women who love me.
How would you feel if you killed another person? And if, further, you were a seventeen-year-old girl and the person you killed was the boy you thought you were in love with? Of course I wished it had been me instead. Of course, I thought of taking my own life. Of course I thought I would never know peace or happiness again, I would never be forgiven, I should never be forgiven. Of course.
To open the oyster shell – it is an agonizing pain. I am haunted by what I did, and yet I can hardly stand to think about the specifics. There were so many terrible moments, a lifetime of terrible moments, really, which is not the same as a terrible lifetime. But surely, surely, the moments right after it happened were the worst.
If I said now that not a day passes when I don’t think of the accident, of Andrew, it would be both true and not true. Occasionally, days go by when his name is nowhere on my tongue or in my mind, when I do not recall him walking away from me toward football practice in his jersey, his helmet at his side. Yet all the time, the accident is with me. It flows in my veins, it beats along with my heart, it is my skin and hair, my lungs and liver. Andrew died, I caused his death, and then, like a lover, I took him inside me.
We both were smiling; every reference one of us made the other would get, every remark was a joke or compliment, and I suddenly though, Flirting.
Then – I couldn’t help it – I said, “Why did you go steady with Dena?”
“Because I was eleven years old.” He still was smiling. “I didn’t know better.”
“But you kept going steady with her. For four years!”
“Were you jealous?”
“I thought it was” – I paused – “odd.”
“When Dena was my girlfriend,” he said, “it meant I got to spend time around with you.”
Was he teasing? “If that’s true, it’s not very nice to Dena,” I said.
“Alice!” He seemed both amused and genuinely concerned that he’d displeased me.
I looked at the ground. What was I trying to express, anyway? The important thing I’d been planning all week to say when Andrew and I were alone – it was eluding me.
“What about this?” he said. “What if I try to be nicer from now on?”
Looking up, I said, “I’ll try to be nicer, too.”
He laughed. “You’ve always been nice.” There was a pause, and then he asked, “Is that a heart?” He reached forward and lifted the silver pendant on my necklace, holding it lightly, the tips of his fingers grazing the hollow of my clavicle.
“My grandmother gave it to me for my sixteenth birthday,” I said.
“It’s pretty.” He set the pendant back against my neck. “I should probably go to practice so I don’t get yelled at. If I don’t see you tomorrow after the game, you’ll be at Fred’s on Saturday, right?”
I nodded. “Will it be more a party where people come on time or later?”
“I’ll leave my house about seven-thirty. You should come then, too.” Andrew was unusually direct, especially for a boy in high school; I think it came from an understated confidence. When I got to college, the guys and girls seemed to play such games, the girl waiting a certain number of days to return a phone call, or the guy calling only after the girl didn’t talk to him at a party or he saw her out with someone else. But maybe, unlike those boys and girls in college, Andrew genuinely liked me. Then I think no, maybe he didn’t. Maybe, because of what occurred later, I invented for us a great love; I have been granted the terrible privilege of deciding what would have happened with no one left to contradict me. And maybe I am absolutely wrong.
After we said goodbye, I turned around, watching for a second as he walked toward the bleachers beyond which were the track and the football field: his light brown hair, his moderately broad shoulders further broadened by shoulder pads, his tan golden-haired calves emerging from those pants that stopped well before his ankles. When you are a high school girl, there is nothing more miraculous than a high school boy.
And despite my concern that I am manipulating the past, whenever I doubt that Andrew had feelings for me and that those feelings would have grown over time, that we had finally reached an age when something real could unfold between us, I think back to him examining my necklace, holding the pendant and asking what it was. That was obviously just an excuse to touch me. After all, everyone knows what a heart is.
During the years Dena and Andrew had been together, I’d often marveled at both the swiftness and randomness of their coupling. Ostensibly, he’d had no interest in Dena, and hours later, he’d become hers. It seemed to be a lesson in something, but I wasn’t sure what – an argument for aggression, perhaps, for the bold pursuit of what you wanted? Or proof of most people’s susceptibility to persuasion? Or just confirmation of their essential fickleness? After I’d read Andrew’s note, was I supposed to have immediately marched up to him and staked my claim? Had my faith in our pleasantly murky future been naive, had I been passive or a dupe? These questions were of endless interest to me for several years; I thought of them at night after I’d said my prayers and before I fell asleep. And then, once high school started, I became distracted.
“Can you explain away love too?” I asked.
“Oh, yes,” he said. “The desire to possess in some, like avarice; in others the desire to surrender, to lose the sense of responsibility, the wish to be admired. Sometimes just the wish to be able to talk, to unburden yourself to someone who won’t be bored. The desire to find again a father or a mother. And of course under it all the biological motive.”
I thought, it’s all true, but isn’t there something over? I’ve dug up all that in myself, in Maurice too, but still the spade hasn’t touched rock.
Love? said the Commander.
That’s better. That’s something I know about. We can talk about that.
Falling in love, I said. Falling into it, we all did then, one way or another. How could he have made such light of it? Sneered even. As if it was trivial for us, a frill, a whim. It was, on the contrary, heavy going. It was the central thing; it was the way you understood yourself; if it never happened to you, not ever, you would be like a mutant, a creature from outer space. Everyone knew that.
Falling in love, we said; I fell for him. We were falling women. We believed in it, this downward motion: so lovely, like flying, and yet at the same time so dire, so extreme, so unlikely. God is love, they once said, but we reversed that, and love, like heaven, was always just around the corner. The more difficult it was to love the particular man beside us, the more we believed in Love, abstract and total. We were waiting, always, for the incarnation. That word, made flesh.
And sometimes it happened, for a time. That kind of love comes and goes and is hard to remember afterwards, like pain. You would look at the man one day and you would think, I loved you, and the tense would be past, and you would be filled with a sense of wonder, because it was such an amazing and precarious and dumb thing to have done; and you would know too why your friends had been evasive about it, at the time.
There is a good deal of comfort, now, in remembering this.
Or sometimes, even when you were still loving, still falling, you’d wake up in the middle of the night, when the moonlight was coming through the window onto his sleeping face, making the shadows in the sockets of his eyes darker and more cavernous than in daytime and you’d think, Who knows what they do, on their own or with other men? Who knows what they do, on their own or with other men? Who knows what they say or where they are likely to go? Who can tell what they really are? Under their daily-ness.
Likely you would think at those times: What if he doesn’t love me?
Or you’d remember stories you’d read, in the newspapers, about women who had been found–often women but sometimes they would be men, or children, that was the worst–in ditches or forests or refrigerators in abandoned rented rooms, with their clothes on or off, sexually abused or not; at any rate killed. There were places you didn’t want to walk, precautions you took that had to do with locks on windows and doors, drawing the curtain, leaving on lights. These things you did were like prayers; you did them and you hoped they would save you. And for the most part they did. Or something did; you could tell by the fact that you were still alive.
But all of that was pertinent only in the night, and had nothing to do with the man you loved, at least in daylight. With that man you wanted it to work, to work out. Working out was also something you did to keep your body in shape, for the man. If you worked out enough, maybe the man would too. Maybe you would be able to work it out together, as if the two of you were a puzzle that could be solved; otherwise, one of you, most likely the man, would go wandering off on a trajectory of his own, taking his addictive body with him and leaving you with a bad withdrawal, which you could counteract by exercise. If you didn’t work it out it was because one of you had the wrong attitude. Everything that went on in your life was thought to be due to some positive or negative power emanating from inside your head.
If you don’t like it, change it, we said, to each other and to ourselves. And so we would change the man, for another one. Change, we were sure, was for the better always. We were revisionists; what we revised was ourselves.
It’s strange to remember how we used to think, as if everything were available to us, as if there were no contingencies, no boundaries; as if we were free to shape and reshape forever the ever-expanding perimeters of our lives. I was like that too, I did that too. Like was not the first man for me, and he might not have been the last. If he hadn’t been frozen in that way. Stopped dead in time, in midair, among the trees back there, in the act of falling.
In former times they would send you a little package, of belongings: what he had with him when he died. That’s what they would do, in wartime, my mother said. How long were you supposed to mourn, and what did they say? Make your life a tribute to the loved one. And he was, the loved. One.
Is, I say. Is, is, only two letters, you stupid shit, can’t you manage to remember it, even a short word like that?
Frienship is like earthenware: once broken, it can be mended; love is like a mirror: once broken, that ends it.
Love don’t make things nice; it ruins everything. It breaks your heart. It makes things a mess. We aren’t here to make things perfect. Snowflakes are perfect. The stars are perfect. Not us. Not us! We are here to ruin ourselves and…and to break our hearts and love the wrong people…and die.
It’s a very mysterious thing, that electric things that happens, and then the agony that can follow. The toubadors celebrate the agony of the love, the sickness the doctors cannot cure, the wounds that can be healed only by the weapon that delivered the wound…The wound is the wound of my passion and the agony of my love for this creature. The only one who can heal me is the one who delivered the blow.
“To love God as he loves himself, that truly is to be one with Him in will, to reproduce the divine life in the human soul, to live like God, to become like God, in a word, to be deified. The marvel is, in thus becoming God, man also becomes or rebecomes himself. He realizes his very essence as a man in realizing his end…”
And so forth…
Love is lak de sea. It’s uh movin’ thing, but still and all, it takes its shape from de shore it meets, and it’s different with every shore.