Post-race exhaustion aside, my heart is hanging in there. Of course, if I'm being honest, I still occasionally suffer from the terrifying thought that my one epic love is already behind me. Which would suck, yes, but I'm not too worried. My heart may be tired, but it's pretty fucking BIG and I'm braver than most about throwing it around.
Je ne regrette rien!
It helps that I've been trying to think about love in new and different ways. A few weeks ago a friend (who is now more than a friend) sent me an article about love - 10 things you might not know about [it]. I'm pretty sure there are far more than ten things I don't know about love, but the author's first point has really stuck with me through all my tribulations:
"The vision of love that emerges from the latest science requires a radical shift. I learned that I need to ask people to step back from their current views of love long enough to consider it from a different perspective: their body's perspective. Love is not romance. It's not sexual desire. It's not even that special bond you feel with family or significant others.
And perhaps most challenging of all, love is neither lasting nor unconditional. The radical shift we need to make is this: Love, as your body experiences it, is a micro-moment of connection shared with another."
I've long understood that love was in the moment. With Joel, they were like multiple daily orgasms - watching him drum on his steering wheel, the way his hands splayed out on a keyboard, every time he ever took off his glasses. The sum of those moments is what made me so sure I was IN love with him.
But moments aren't forever. They're fleeting and tragic. All you can really do is collect them in your heart, pack them into heavy boxes and carry them from house to house in a Uhaul.
Fortunately not all the love I feel is tragic.
There's the kind of love I feel for SamnTerry and Sophie, which is constant, ever-present and expansive. I can't think of a single thing they could ever do that would lessen my adoration for them. (A feeling that is mutual right up until Sam and I start talking about running, and then Terry just wants to murder us both.) All of My People have specific text and ring tones on my phone, so even if they contact me while I'm knuckle-deep in vag, the robot-ring (Sam) or the choo-choo chime (Terry) tells me I have something to look forward to between clients. Those sounds always makes my heart lurch. But there are love moments with them too. The first time I saw Sohpie with short hair. Every time I see Terry's atom tattoo. Opening a beer for Sam. Too many to count.
Then there are my children, who taught me to love in the first place. Have I ever told that story? How I always THOUGHT I was in love my husband. I mean, I put up with him, right? So I must love him. I just thought it was like that for everybody, something you slogged your way through. But then I held Alex for the first time and something happened to my BODY. I could have dismissed it, but it kept happening over and over again until I recognized that THAT was love. That angry, gut-wrench of fear. It was explosive and always left me shaking. It was knowing my world would end if anything ever happened to him. And that's how I found out I wasn't really in love with my husband - because I had never really felt that way about him.
But I get to feel that love for my children every day. Like when I'm driving and Alex lets me hold his hand. His freckles. Hearing him singing along to the radio because he knows all the words. My daughter's lips. The way she already puts her hands on her hips and cocks her head when she sasses me. Hearing her clomp around the house in my high heels. Waking up next to her tiny little gas stove of a body.
Those are the heart clinchers.
For me, love doesn't even have to involve another person. During summer in Portland, the feel of the air on my skin is a love moment. The sound of a freight train going by. That first sip of REALLY GOOD wine. The other day while at COSTCO of all places, I had the strangest sensation that someone had brushed up against my shoulder. When I looked, no one was there, but my body experienced the same exact physical sensations that I get from love.
And let's not forget RUNNING. The only thing better than sex is going for a run and THEN having sex.
Hello, ENDORPHINS ENDORPHINS!
So I think my heart is doing okay. My buckets are pretty full, even without Joel. And the beautiful thing about looking at love differently is that it takes all the pressure off of finding MR. RIGHT. It would be easy to spend the rest of my life trying to find that big epic love again. But when I break it down into moments, I realize that I feel ROMANTIC love all the time. Even though I wouldn't say I'm necessarily "in" love with anyone. (Yet.) Those are big letters. I.N. Two BIG, BIG letters.
But I still get to have that first embrace after not seeing someone for six months. The smell of a lover's hair (if they happen to have any) (which is rare). The feel of a freshly shorn bald head. That surprise kiss from the most gorgeous woman in the room. Tracing a tattoo over a freckled forearm. Sighs that are more than just happy. Shushes that mean a lot more than "be quiet." That look. That smile. SWEET JEEBUS, DON'T SMILE AT ME LIKE THAT. Lady skin. Chest hair. Music. Morning-breath kisses. A perfectly placed kiss on the back of my neck. Taste. Touch. Warm hands on my back.
Don't even get me started on kissing.
It turns out that love moments are astonishingly available to me when I just say yes. Love actually IS all around me. And just like when I'm in the middle of a hard run, all I have to do is look up. It's RIGHT THERE. I'm sure my heart will fall INto it when it's ready. I just have to keep leaning into the moments.