What we write about when we write about love

Butterfly upon the wall, you look so happy there, how can it be that bad? I’ve only stapled your wings down. Now you can’t fly around. So what’s with that frown? – Kurt Calloway

A butterfly, too beautiful to capture in my net. I can only hope you land in my palms and I will carry you gently, until you want to fly away. – Me

I don’t remember lyrics much, and above, those amazingly beautiful words, are lyrics I have remembered for half my life now. They live in my heart and are as much a part of me as my hands and feet. At the age of 17, when I thought I had a perspective, my friend Kurt understood his own obsessions, that masculine desire to posses what we love, to capture and frame it in our own design. It’s amazingly powerful to consider how young he was and how aware of himself he was. I’ve always loved those lines of poetry, as dark and scary as they are. Kurt loved with a kind of obsession then that is not all too unfamiliar for a young man who just wants to be loved back. And it’s an awful place to be and it’s one that often manifests itself into some really bad shit the older you get. Often in ways you don’t intend. I have been guilty of this, making mistakes to try to hold on to love and those I loved too tightly. And it never works out. Ever.
I’ve been thinking about love a lot lately, for a variety of reasons. I’ve found myself in place once again, where I am actually capable of loving the way I used to, when I was young and careless. This is do, in no small favor, to hanging out with my friends, most of whom are so much younger than I am. Loving these people, growing and connecting with them has made me realize how much control I tried to have in my life, always to my detriment. This of course has great affect on the effectiveness of loving people and being loved by people. The desire for control instantly limits the boundaries in which we love people. And I have fallen victim to that, but I have also realized that the boundaries we have exist to try to keep us safe.
I think about what Kurt said a lot in my life. It’s taken 17 years to really understand it. It’s taken being in love with women, spending my life with them and realizing my actions were actions of control. As someone who considers themselves a feminist, this has been a hard pill to swallow. A pattern of what is essentially abuse emerging because I was too anxious at life, felt too controlled by external forces, felt that if I didn’t address every detail, instantly that things would spiral out of control. And guess what, they spiraled out of control anyway. Now I live in Albuquerque, New Mexico, unemployed (still), playing loud music and pretending I am smart enough to be in college. I love my life, but nothing is really in my control.
There is a girl. There is always a girl. Even when there isn’t a girl, there is a girl. Okay, she’s actually a woman. Obviously. Just for the record, the words man and woman seem so serious to me. I mean serious in a stern, kind of strict and oppressive way. When writing about things that are awesome, I’d rather use language that has a sense of delicacy. Anyway, there’s a girl. A woman. Whatever.
This isn’t really about her. I mean, it is, but there are friends that are falling in and out of love. And this is just as much about them as anyone else. There are friends in new relationships, mostly though in relationships that have existed before I landed in town. There are some that are ending. There are people who are getting married and I didn’t even know. There are relationships falling apart. There are relationships that are strained. There are girls I loved from a safe distance, the circumstances never quite right. There are amazing friends, here in my life every day, and those divided by geography but no less important to my heart. This is as much about that girl, as it is about every one. Because I’ve been thinking about love (and patience, temperance and presence) to an obsessive degree lately. The scientist in me wants to crack the code. The artist in me wants to ponder it endlessly (like I am here). The rationalist in me wants to hit myself in the face with a pan and go read all the shit I have to read about Leo Szilard. But that’s where the second quote I left above comes from. It’s something I wrote, recently. Very recently in fact. And though it was born about my specific feelings about a specific person, it applies to every one I know. And as Kurt’s voice sings his song to me, I answer with my own words. A response 17 years in the making. One I am happy to have finally gotten to.
I love Kurt, that 17-year-old poet and singer. He loved with a recklessness and lack of self-preservation that was terrifying and head shaking. He just didn’t give a shit about getting hurt, and he got hurt deeply, a lot as a young man. And then one day he found love, and so far as I know he’s still in love with that woman. But I remember his words, always. I sing that damn melody all the time. But now, I finally have a response to that question posed. The only way to love is without restriction, and if you get hurt, you just brush that shit off. Let the butterfly have its sky. That’s what it was designed, through millions of years of evolution, to do. It may land in your hand and stay. It may fly away before you even have time to realize it was there. But don’t try to capture it. It’s just not possible.
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