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Love: Perhaps…

A self-reflective monologue on the meaning of love. Part of the love unraveled challenge.

By H.H. CallaghanPublished 3 months ago 8 min read
My singular potted plant on the day I understood love.

Love: Perhaps…

You’ll have to forgive me, dear reader, in advance for this stream of consciousness, or this self-expressing monologue. I want these words to be unedited and imperfect, much in the way that love is. By default, this may make my writing seem directionless, but through the digressions and tangents I’m likely to make, I hope to convey the abstract and all-encompassing subject of love.

It would make sense, I suppose, to start with what love feels like or looks like to me…

It may seem abstract, and by all means it isn’t meant to seem poetic or pretentious, however for me, love is a golden light…

Allow me to explain.

The first time I was able to put the word ‘love’ to an experience or a feeling was in a setting I didn’t expect. I was alone in my apartment, I’d just finished a deep clean of the place and the sound of laundry gently churning in the washing machine was the only soundtrack to my afternoon. I’d opened all the windows to a fresh autumn breeze to clear out the stale air and lit a couple of candles to symbolically purify the new air that was welcomed into the space. As the wind flowed into the room, it played with the edges of the curtains and tousled my blond hair in greeting. I sat down on the sofa with a contented sigh and just then, a beam of late afternoon sun poured through the window and bathed my singular potted plant in its glow. Something about that moment, whether a whisper on the breeze or a secret in the corners of my eyes, filled me with the overwhelming feeling of love. Now, my reader, I know what you are thinking. ‘This guy is just describing being at peace, or feeling content with an afternoon of cleaning, that isn’t love!’ I hear you cry, and perhaps if I hadn’t been there myself, I’d be inclined to agree, however that feeling was so much more than peace or contentment, so much more than I feel capable of putting into words, but please humour me to try.

They say that the first love we experience is that of our parents; Freud would probably say that in some cases, we love them too much, whether its a complex of the Oedipus sort for the sons, or a fervent jealousy of the male anatomy for the daughters. For me, my parents meant familiarity. I could recognise my own features in my parents faces and that was something that made sense to me in the confusing world I’d been born into. Sure, being the most commonly seen faces around me, a smile would, of course, form on my toothless cherubim face when I’d see them after a nap, but can I say with certainty that this feeling alone was love? Later in life as an adult, I grew apart from one of my parents, and I know plenty of people with no love for either of theirs, so could this truly have been love if it could so readily be disposed of? I also know of those who were raised by people who were not of the same blood, who adored their chosen guardians, yet despised their true creators, so did blood relation even matter? Indeed, those who said they had no love left for one or both of their birth parents would often follow up with ‘Oh, but I don’t wish them any ill will…’, so I found myself asking, did that make love between blood relations redundant, when we can choose who we call family? Perhaps…

I felt as though I were on the correct path, but this alone wasn’t love.

When we talk of romantic love, the concept of love itself begins to take different shapes. Artists form love into roses, into fires; vast oceans with glowing moons; the roar of thunder, or a breathless whisper at your ear. I remember the first girl I thought I loved, I was six-years-old and her surname was Beaumont, or beautiful mountain. To me, her beauty was a mountain I was not welcome on, one I had no right to scale. She was always kind to me, but the love in my eyes was never offered back in the smiles she gave me over her sucked thumb, so at six orbits around the sun I learned that love could be unrequited, that it could be hollow, heavy and lonely.

The second girl I fell for received a declaration of my love in the form of thirty Valentine’s Day cards in a day; I was eight-years-old and a teacher called me into a room along with my mum, the girl-in-question and her furious mother. Her mother said that my actions were excessive, that these actions were border-line-obsessive and she worried about the safety of her daughter. My mother nodded and apologised and asked me to apologise as well, but deep down, this confused me. I had only wanted to quantify my feelings into something visible and didn’t see how this could be something wrong when love was something so special. The girl herself even looked a little confused, she had even confessed that she had liked the cards, but as the assembled adults discussed my shortcomings around us, I made the assumption it must be something to do with the weight of love. Thus, at approximately one-hundred-and-eleven months of being alive, I decided that love was something that couldn’t be quantified, that humans feared its immensity and could only handle it in droplets, and ultimately that the line between affection and obsession were as thin and delicate as the rose petals the artists had been forming love into for lifetimes before mine.

The first boy I loved felt different, I was ten and he was eleven and the love we shared was our deepest secret. He would hold my hand under the covers on sleepovers and he would kiss my eyelids to say goodnight. His smile was warm and gentle as we played video games or frisbee down the park. At dinners, he would offer me looks meant just for me, and in my heart, I thought that the summer of us would never end. However, much in the tradition of British weather, clouds soon darkened our horizons from every angle. A ‘friend’ I had disclosed our secret to had called me disgusting and a freak. Word spread and before long I was hunted down for my differences by anyone who wanted to take a shot. The boy and I began to grow up at the same time as the bombardments came and, being a year older than me, he began to distance himself from me in his boisterous group of new male friends. Life seemed to get in the way of the love we had shared so purely in the months before, girls became his new biggest interest and we were suddenly too old to share a bed at sleepovers. He even moved bedrooms to get a bigger bed and the spare room became mine alone when I visited, until the visits stopped all together. As I passed my eleventh winter, I learned that my love could be seen as disgusting and could provoke hate in others, could provoke hate of myself.

At twelve years old, I came to the conclusion I didn’t want to be here anymore. If I had once had this so called love for myself, it had been replaced. Was love even a thing that could be replaced? I cried in my thoughts. When people learned of my saddened intent to disappear, people suddenly sprung from the woodwork spewing the word love from every angle, but by this point, I felt as though I no longer knew the meaning of the word.

Later that same year when I had been convinced that though love may have left me, hope had not, I got my first puppy and I finally experienced what people called unconditional love. In this small creature’s eyes, I wasn’t disgusting, I was the sole receiver of all of his affection and purpose for living. He was my best friend, my joy and my freedom. When he later passed away eleven years later, I felt my heart break, my eyes still dampen to this day to think on it. I told myself as I scattered some of his ashes over a small waterfall down his favourite park that this had to be it, that this pain was proof of the love that I’d had for my dog. So then posed the question, was love only measured in how big the desire was for something to remain? Perhaps…

I felt as though I was beginning to understand what love was to me.

We now skip forward to the current day, where the partner I have been with for the past ten years has recently become my husband. One would assume that this means that I discovered what love means with him, that I must love him. I do love my husband, let’s not confuse the matter, but what our love has become is not the fairytale love I was brought up on, nor is it the love of ancient tomes that have saturated the minds of humans for what seems like an eternity. What my husband has brought me (that I later learned was my true association to love) was the feeling of unquestionable belonging. This wasn’t a feeling I felt immediately; I’m ashamed to say it likely wasn’t until about a year after saying ‘I love you’ many times in vain that the association of love and belonging became apparent to me. It was the way he held me one night, the cogs all started to fit into place. Something about the humidity in the air, the silent hour of the morning, the feel of his breath on my cheek as he slept caused a resonance in me, an echo of which I felt again on that gold-soaked afternoon in my autumnal apartment reverie. That moment felt as though it had been curated just for me by the universe, that every vibration of the cosmos wanted me to know that this was for me and that I belonged in these seconds with them. In those wee-hours of the morning, it was as though every corner of the universe loved me and every atom of my being loved the universe in return.

I finally understood what love was to me: to belong.

So my sweet, patient reader, I summarise with this. That golden feeling of belonging is what love means, at the very least for me. If you are struggling and thinking on the meaning for yourself, reflect on where you belong and whether that golden vibration calls to you to answer. In my experience, it can come from many things: from family, whether blood relation or only in name and proximity; from friends and first loves; from the communities we find acceptance in when the world seems against us; from the bravery it takes to be ourselves and the validation we get from the acknowledgement of our struggles; from those who welcome us into their arms, warts, flaws and baggage-and-all; from spouses, whether those with loud Hollywood-movie-sized loves, or those with a patient tenderness that are attuned to your soul’s quietest needs; from pets and their undying loyalty, even when times are tough and meals are forced to be stretched to make ends meet, and finally from those unplanned, spontaneous acts of joy we find in life, in which we’re told we’ll find the feeling of love with ease.

But at the end of it all, perhaps it will just be an empty sun-lit room where the world feels at ease and the wind tells us we’re loved even if we don’t yet understand its unintelligible mystery and depth carried to us gently on that autumn breeze.


CONTENT WARNINGStream of Consciousnessmarriagelovelgbtqhumanityfriendshipfeaturefamilyadvice

About the Creator

H.H. Callaghan

I'm a writer of prose and verse and love all aspects of literature and storytelling. I am working on some big projects, so I hope you all like my work to come! I will be posting smaller pieces in-between, so please indulge in these too.

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  • Asad Message2 months ago

    Great read

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