I don’t think I should be writing about this…I am not a psychologist or a guidance counselor. Nor am I a fortune teller or a shaman who can consult the future and give inspirational advice.
But the urge to continue and expound on the topic is strong enough that I have to take the risks. Because all I am is an ordinary human being who has experienced one way or the other the frivolities of love in several intoxicating instances, and not always with a happy ending.
Yet each one left me breathless, richer, and with a contented heart, ready and willing once again to relive the experience, one more time.
For some of us, we encounter the majesty and mystery of love at our earliest point of self-awareness. A conscious, physical awakening of ourselves where we become critical whether we are attractive or not. If we so possesses what we believe are the standards of beauty or manliness that we felt are prerequisites to love; and with all these exclusive realizations not necessarily meant to happen only at the age of puberty.
I remember I was only five years old when I had my first crush, which remained vivid and clear for me to include the colorful episode in a romance novel which I am trying to complete.
At some point, the most intense, the most memorable—they say, the most unforgettable and craziest, yet almost always the most naïve—is the first love that comes knocking at our hearts before or during our earliest teens. And I agree.
Let’s listen for a while in a one-way conversation. Let’s try to guess what might have been said by the other party on the line, and who knows, you might have reacted in the same way too, when you were young and deep in love…
“Yeah, babe, I care… You know that… Of course… I do, babe…
“What?! Why do I— But why? Do I have to—
“You don’t believe me, is that it? I said I–care–for–you…
“Do I really have to say it so you’ll believe me?
“I don’t understand… Do we have a prob—
“C’mon! What do you mean there’s a diff— Oh, boy…
“Look, babe— I don’t know! Really, I don’t!!
“Okay…What I want to tell you right now, right this minute, is I really, really want you. I mean—I care for you! I want you; I want you to be with me always…I need you, babe…I want to be with you all my life, I want to spend my life with you…I want to kiss you, embrace you, care for you, make love to you…I want to see you like right now, babe…I want to talk to you, hear your voice, your laughter, listen to your voice…Look at you when you giggle, when you pout…
“Yes, you pout… You do, babe… Alright, when you smile…Every little thing, okay? And that’s really, really, really because—
“Yep… I care. I care that much… And you know that, babe…
“Uh, almost two… Right…one year, eight months… And two weeks, yeah…
“Umm, 02? Huh? Oh, December… sixteenth… Yep, before my birth–
“We, ah… Yellow… With a low cut neckline—Jeez, you’re sooh sexy!
“Yeaah!! I was so turned-on! I felt horn—
“Oops! Is she there? With you? What’s she doing there?
“Sorry… I thought you’re alone…
“No…no! I’m not bored… It’s just—
“Wow, I’m not changing the subject… C’mon, I’ve not seen you since finding Nemo—
“Gotcha!! Ha-ha! Got my baby to smile—yeah! Oh, yeaah!!
“I know… I know… I miss you, babe… Just thought you might want to talk—
“Right… Yeah, if you don’t wanna talk about it…okay…
“Hey…you tired? Am I keeping you up? You want me to—
“Can’t you go to your room? Why do you have to keep her company, anyway? She’s watching TV…
“That bad, huh? Well…I went out with Bri…we played some, yeah… He’s got this new Xbox, real cool… Yep, expensive… No, I have my PC… No, babe…I don’t want an Xbox… No!
“I’m not shouting! C’mon!!
“Okay… Cool… What are you drinking?
“Ain’t that a bit sweet? No!! I’m not trying to say you’ll— I mean, hey!
“I’m not complaining, baby… Oh, jeez— I’m not implying!! Aw, for chrissake—
(Phone slammed hard…dial tone.)
(Thirty seconds flat, a ring tone.)
“Yeah… Hi… Hellooo?
“I did not exactly— No, no… Okay, I said it’s a bit sweet, that’s all… But I didn’t mean it’s bad for you, or you’re gonna gain— Yeah, I know… Sure… No, you’re not…
“Yep, tried it once… Very sweet, really… You threw it away? Well…
“Hey, there’s a concert in school…We have these new bands—
“What? Your Mom doesn’t like hip hop? Baby, it’s you I’m talking here—
“Okay, sorry… I forgot… Yeah, we don’t like hip hop… Okay, yeah…
“Uh, emo, senti… Mellow, a bit of jazz… Alicia, yes…
“Oh, it’s…almost…almost two… Ah, one…forty-three… What?
“I’m in bed, baby… Lying down… Yeah, what else…
“No—no!! I mean, I just wanna talk to you while lying in bed…
“Okay, so I’m horny… Oh, yeah! All the time!! That’s all I think of, yeah! I like having sex all the time!! Yeah, right…
“With you, babe… With you, of course! Yep, no one else… Always, baby…
“Okay, you’re sleepy… Yeah, talk to you tomorrow… A little late, I guess…
“I got some papers to write… Right on, my favorite Eco—
“No, it’s okay… I just have to—
“Yeah, alright… Same time… Yeah, I promise… I’ll call, baby…
“I miss you, too… Yep… As always… Take care, okay?
“Yeah… Bye, love… Good night…
(Forty five seconds, a ring tone.)
“Yeah? Oh, hi babe! What?! I didn’t say what?
“Baby, c’mon— I did not forget–you know that! You know I love you…
And the cycle continues in the struggle to say I love you, everyday, every time there is a chance for two people having a relationship, or just beginning to fall in love, to express themselves and say how much they love and care for each other.
Or did they, really? What secrets hide behind those words that it becomes difficult for some to say yet so easy for others to blurt out, repeat, and utter away without any occasion or special time? Is that really love?
Others hang on to its magic like a precious, magnificent incantation they all needed to hear, always repeated and spoken, whispered in their ears. Or even signed with the lips, less they vanish into thin air, lost in the romantic vanities of their fantasy and dreams.
Why did it become so important for these three words to be uttered—becoming a matter of life and death sometimes, especially, for young, desperate lovers drowned in the need and desire to hear it.
When in fact, not saying it, but instead expressed and done wholeheartedly meant more—a true and sincere honest manifestation of love? What makes it more romantic when spoken, the words tumbling out from our lips almost in rote, mechanical rhythm each time we talk, listen, or see our object of love and desire?
Doesn’t I love you say more when expressed, acted out, or performed—like opening an umbrella to shade her from a slight drizzle, or wiping an errant drop of ice cream on her hand with a tissue or hanky you bought especially for moments like this?
What makes love true? How do you know it’s real?
I think each of us who experienced love and went through the initial, gangling awkward steps already learned how to cope, to become patient and understanding, as we mature. Our choices, our demands, our feelings for our partners becoming rational, unselfish; as against the earlier episodes of being impulsive, explosive, and too sensitive (as I tried to illustrate in the conversation above).
Yet, these raw feelings and attitudes were affected and influenced by several things while growing up, which become formative tools that shaped and molded our individual concepts of love and relationship. One way or the other, it can make us selfish, possessive, envious, indulgent, dominating, or jealous, turning us into gibbering morons without pride or self-respect as we follow our lover’s every step, every whim, every unspoken wish and command.
So that later on, after we overcome the insanity of these almost humiliating episodes, we throw salt at the back of our hand, swig the glass and swallow our hurt, laughing off our broken pride, wondering unbelieving to our inner self why we ever allowed to happen what our faithful friends would later call our stupid, drunken love affair.
Still, most of us crept back, succumbed once more without throwing caution learned from our past mistakes, immersing and enjoying the promises, blind and uncaring as we dream of happiness—our personal victory, our most private triumph, as we seek true love once more to taste the beauty and ardor of romance.
I believe that one of the most dominant influences that shaped and affected our views of love and relationships are romance stories and novels, supported and empowered in all its glittering splendor and ecstasy by TV serials and the movies. Especially aimed for women readers, romance stories and novels became one unconscious basis of sort, a visual and dreamlike point of reference for successful standards of love and relationships, where the romantic fulfillment is enjoyed through fantasy and less of reality; where the knight-in-shining-armor-rescues-the-damsel-in-distress cliché themes dominate and lead the stories into veritable, happy, fairy tale endings.
Most publishers agree on one thing about romance novels: For the books to be successful, i.e., commercially popular and profitable, it must always have a happy ending—the lovers reunited after a long, arduous separation; the lovers getting married at last, after suffering family persecutions; the lovers met again (accidentally!) after untold circumstances and great distance parted their lives; and the lovers seeing the sad realities of their miserable existence to happily reconcile, again, etc., etc.
For the young romantics among us entertained by these ideas as we grow up, we held on tight to the concepts, unable to separate much of fiction from reality because of inexperience, preparing ourselves instead for the actual, active, individual relationships we hope to encounter in our love life later on with roses in our eyes.
Yet, romance classics like Romeo and Juliet, Wuthering Heights, or The Scarlet Letter have incorporated plot twists into the romance, so that endings are more believable, if not tragic and almost real.
Thus, quite unacceptable and “unreal” to the die-hard fans. Still, most outstanding novels not even under the label of Romance contain their own unique love stories in the purest sense of the word, remaining subtle and unbidden beneath the subtext instead of being hyped, highlighted, or shouted out loud in the title. It becomes more true-to-life and horrifyingly real: The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo revealed the painful unrequited love of Quasimodo, the hunchback, to the gypsy dancer, Esmeralda; Dracula by Bram Stoker, pounds the fear and dilemma of Jonathan Harker to save his wife, Mina, from the untold terror threatening London; and the modern, science fiction novel Perdido Street Station by China Mieville, led the scientist Isaac to dare the unbelievable and the challenges of a Boschnian-steampunk city, so he can only be reunited with his alien sweetheart, Lin.
Good or bad are these examples, contrive or superfluous as they may seem, the love angle in these stories never rely solely in the magic of I love you. Yet, fiercely expounded in the uniqueness of the desire, the overwhelming feeling, the rapturous and agonizing need to hope, to be united at last with the ones they loved and cared for, no matter what awaits them in return.
Maybe for some of us, to hear I love you is to conjure a healthy, lovely picture of our present relationship, our noble hopes for it in the years to come. And to demand it said, to hear it spoken sweetly by our lover becomes a kind of assurance, a guarantee, that indeed, we are made for one another, till death do us part, amen. Unfortunately, I don’t think—yet what I think is not important—it works that way: love is felt, and not heard or uttered.
It becomes more meaningful when you see the twinkle in your lover’s eyes when he or she sees you coming unannounced. When her lips quiver in surprise or delight as you planted a stolen kiss she or he never suspects. Or a warm hug, a sincere embrace of appreciation or greeting when you say Hi!; your unconscious holding of hands in the most unromantic of places—the office cafeteria, the long line of customers in the bank, or just waiting in the traffic for a cab.
A light pat on the shoulder, a glance that follows you around, a tap on the arm, a wink, a giggle, or a flick of a finger to remove loose strands of hair on her face meant more for me, than a repeated I love you. It is more of the casual, unromantic actions; the sweet, surprise reactions; those reciprocating and unintentional body language between the two of you that you alone can interpret as I love you that makes a relationship endures and becomes more meaningful and real.
Reserved it then, if ever you want to say it without reason, or only as an unspoken obligation; if ever you feel the urge to let your partner know because you only felt insecure, jealous, or threatened of something in your relationship.
Reserved it for a particular moment, a rare occasion or instance, or any unguarded intimacy that cannot be repeated or will be experienced again, even if, you are already living together or happily married for sometime, and watch the wonders of love spark and flare in your hearts.