The other night I saw two women having a drink. They were sat outside at a picnic table, with fairy lights hanging from the trees above them. One of them – the one I could see – had a smile so broad I thought her cheeks would crack. Later they shared a kiss – one, two, five, a dozen – before slipping out hand in hand.
I saw this and I was so envious. Not about the kiss – kisses are easy. It’s the love. I miss loving someone. I’m so full of love it leaks out of my toes and my ears. What a waste, to see it swilling down the drain like dirty bathwater. Seeing women together makes me ache and yearn and pine so hard I have to look away, like I’ve seen something terrible.
When I’m in a relationship, I can be quite romantic. Not in a showy way – not with gemstones or handbags or trips to Paris – in my way, my quiet way, with words. I write messages on mirrors with lipstick or leave syrupy post-its on pillows next to sleepy heads. I write poetry – bad poetry – like the time I wrote an ode to Blue Eyes’ boobs. I’ll write a letter and post it to someone, even though we live together, just so they get the thrill of opening it and watching my devotion spill out all down their knees.
What do you do, when you’re a hopeless romantic but there’s no place for the love to go? You read about love. You read about it to remind yourself it’s out there, it’s possible and it will happen to you too – some day. Recently I read a beautiful letter from the author, John Steinbeck, to his 14 year-old son, Thom who had recently fallen in love. It nourished me to my cockles and I wanted to share it. So for all of you, still hoping and wishing and dreaming like me – take sustenance:
We had your letter this morning. I will answer it from my point of view and of course Elaine will from hers.
First – if you are in love – that’s a good thing – that’s about the best thing that can happen to anyone. Don’t let anyone make it small or light to you.
Second – There are several kinds of love. One is a selfish, mean, grasping, egotistical thing which uses love for self-importance. This is the ugly and crippling kind. The other is an outpouring of everything good in you – of kindness and consideration and respect – not only the social respect of manners but the greater respect which is recognition of another person as unique and valuable. The first kind can make you sick and small and weak but the second can release in you strength, and courage and goodness and even wisdom you didn’t know you had.
You say this is not puppy love. If you feel so deeply – of course it isn’t puppy love.
But I don’t think you were asking me what you feel. You know better than anyone. What you wanted me to help you with is what to do about it – and that I can tell you.
Glory in it for one thing and be very glad and grateful for it.
The object of love is the best and most beautiful. Try to live up to it.
If you love someone – there is no possible harm in saying so – only you must remember that some people are very shy and sometimes the saying must take that shyness into consideration.
Girls have a way of knowing or feeling what you feel, but they usually like to hear it also.
It sometimes happens that what you feel is not returned for one reason or another – but that does not make your feeling less valuable and good.
Lastly, I know your feeling because I have it and I’m glad you have it.
We will be glad to meet Susan. She will be very welcome. But Elaine will make all such arrangements because that is her province and she will be very glad to. She knows about love too and maybe she can give you more help than I can.
And don’t worry about losing. If it is right, it happens – The main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away.
Letter taken from Letters of Note by Shaun Usher.