All week now, I’ve been trying to write. I’ve been trying to write about the search for love, my search for love. I’ve made four or five attempts, gotten a few tortured paragraphs down, and then, nothing. It isn’t really writer’s block, more like writer’s tsunami. I begin to write and so many words come. There are so many things to say. I don’t know where to start. I don’t know how to end. All of these feelings, all of these experiences, all come rushing up, up from the corners and the nooks and the crannies, flooding my mind, overwhelming my 50 words per minute ability.
I have a lot to say about love and about my search for love. I have so many things to say. You have no idea. I’m like that guy at the airport bar who’s had just enough vodka to make him an expert on your career. Hey, don’t walk away! I’m telling you things! This stuff is gold!
I have been on so many dates, so, so many dates. I went on my first date in the fall of 1983. That was thirty years ago. My longest relationship ended in 1989 – yes, 1989. My romantic life has been one extremely long, sweaty-palmed, small-talking first date.
You do something for thirty years and you get pretty good at it. I am great at dating. I am, honest. I excel at dating. But dating is not the same thing as relationship or permanence or commitment or love. Those things I have very little experience with. I know almost nothing of them, actually. I know what love isn’t. I know what relationships shouldn’t be. But I don’t have that much affirmative knowledge. And I want to, I want to so very badly.
I get excited about learning. I am constantly plunging into this or that new field of knowledge. Whether it is post-impressionism or World War I poets or baking artisan bread, my true learning tipping point comes when I know enough to know what I don’t know.
I know enough now, about love, about sticking with it, about myself, human nature, the vulnerability and pain we all harbor, to know I don’t know. And now, the real learning begins. Praxis is where I’m at.
I never wanted anyone to know I wanted to be loved. I never wanted to admit it. There is too much social baggage tacked onto women who are open about wanting a relationship. They are often seen as grasping or desperate, looking to rope some poor man into a tuxedo after the first date. And that was never me. The men in my life, I’ve never looked at them as permanent.
It still feels like I’m giving too much away, to admit here, for all the world to see, that I want to love and I want to be loved in return. A year from now, if I’m still un-partnered, everyone will know there was this thing I wanted, that I wanted love and that no one chose me and I’m not lovable and that would be the worst, humiliation on a worldwide scale.
Finding love, companionship, fidelity, it isn’t easy. It isn’t easy for two people, each with their own set of scars, their own set of fears and vulnerabilities, to simultaneously decide to lay all those things to the side and take a risk on the other. Once you’ve found that person, that person has found you, then you have to maintain that love. Ongoing relationship maintenance is a big fucking deal, so paired-up people tell me.
When I first found the lump in my breast, the lump that eventually turned my life inside out and upside down, I was pissed, angry, really angry. I had devoted twenty years of my life to being the best parent I could possibly be. I hit heroic levels of self-sacrifice, raising my daughter alone. I did it gladly. Always, the thought was there, in the back of my mind, that my love life, my professional life, all those things could be put on the back burner. I could tend to those things later because my daughter would be off to college and I would only be 40.
I used to tell myself that I would always have time to be cool and have a life because I would always be ten years younger than Madonna and as long as I was younger than Madonna, I would never be irrelevant. I never counted on that lump. I never counted on there not being time.
That’s one of the things about cancer, though. It doesn’t really ask permission. There’s no Red Rover involved. Cancer busts through and announces its presence and plans be damned.
Here I sit, listening to a jazz recording made in a Los Angeles nightclub in 1936, sipping good Kentucky bourbon. My dog is curled on a blanket at my feet. And I want to share my day with someone. I want to share my day with someone who wants to share their day with me. I don’t have the faintest idea how to make that happen.
Maybe it is as simple, and as beautifully complex, as sending out a wish into the universe. Bring me someone to love, someone who wants to love me.