I was fourteen, we held hands on a bus —
Why do I still remember?
All of our friends were looking at us,
Why do I still recall?
The summertime heat and the way her heart beat —
The joy-of-the-touch, and the this-is-too-much —
The whispering looks, and the smiles, and such —
I still can remember it all, it all,
But do not know why I
Love is just about the only thing in life that really matters, but it sucks.
I consider myself something of an expert on love, in the same way people who have never sang publicly or become proficient on a musical instrument consider themselves experts on music.
I am because I think I am. Kind of like Descartes, without the Latin.
Love is a two-handed giver: with one hand, she gives joy and meaning; with the other hand, she carries a river of guilt feeding into an ocean of regret.
I still feel guilty about the first girl I ever held hands with, and: (1) it’s been a minute, and (2) the chances she remembers (wherever she may be) are virtually nil.
She was thirteen, and I was fourteen. She wrote me a long letter afterwards talking about how much I had hurt her.
I still remember entire passages of it, and can see it in her beautiful loopy handwriting.
“How can you like someone, and then just not like them?”
How, indeed. I don’t know. I was fourteen, I was an idiot, I am still an idiot, I don’t know.
I do remember that the feeling of being close to someone was kind of overwhelming. I liked it, it was heaven, but it was like one heaven too many, if that makes any sense.
Which, I know, it doesn’t.
I have been married now for eighteen plus years. My wife is very good to me. But I don’t understand love any more than I did at age fourteen.
Love is like a jigsaw puzzle turned upside down: you know when the pieces come together, it makes something beautiful, even if you cannot always see it.
Or love is like a beautiful cottage in the woods on a bright Spring day: it looks idyllic, but in real life, you would be complaining about lack of cell service if you lived there.
Or maybe, love is like a bird: always there, always beautiful, frequently unnoticed, and sometimes it gets pissed and flies off.
As a poet, I have a responsibility to generate seemingly endless numbers of metaphors for love. So I do it.
But I still feel bad about what I did when I was fourteen.