This is the first installment of Madeline Hall’s column “Weird Love” which discusses the many oddities of affection as they appear in the year after the world didn’t end.
Love is a porch.
Love is washing an elephant.
Love is rubbing yourself on the Eiffel Tower.
Love is Susan Sontag. Illustrated.
Love is a cliché. And so is this hook to this column. But maybe that’s the whole point. Maybe.
I have grown up with the belief that love is something to find. “Finding love” is a process of looking, processing, and determining whether the image, activity, or person presented before me is a demonstration of love. It must have identifiable components that, when cross-referenced against some cosmic checklist, can be chalked up to love. A task completed, or neglected, “finding love” is contingent on the assumption that it exists in a form you must recognize.
To which I must cry “HELL NO.”
Maybe love is far more fluid of a connection than we allow ourselves to believe. Most of the time, we toss the word itself around like it’s a meme we’re reblogging into infinity. We’re not delicate in our usage of the term, but our application of it in a practical sense is constrained to the narrowest of Venn diagrams. We qualify our relationships as “hookups” or “committed,” “open” or “closed,” “serious” or “utterly childish, you man-baby” without thinking that even the most unassuming connection can foster great emotional weight.
The clichés we’ve ascribed to love might as well outline only the vaguest shadow of what love can be. But if we’ve only developed that shadow, when we go looking for love, how on earth will we find it?
I venture that love is not something we find. Love is a senior slaving over her thesis, or her coconut pancakes on a Sunday morning. Love is the acknowledgement of a cat’s neuroses by a human, and the willingness to let it sleep in their bed nonetheless. Love is the unannounced introduction of whipped cream into the sexual equation. Love is Greek to me. Love is on top. And if you’ll humor me this semester, I’ll write about what love is for whoever, whatever, at any hour.
Is it a cliché in itself to even write a column about love? Perhaps. Actually, make that a resounding yes; writing about love has been done to death. Think about the most inert horse, dead for centuries, and keep beating it for another millennia. Yet, isn’t the persistence of love and relationships in popular (and unpopular) human discourse grounds for further discussion? Well, I think I’ve thrown myself into a very clear camp on that issue by endeavoring to write this.
But let me dispel your (deserved) skepticism: I’m writing about the weird loves. I’m writing, in honesty, about any form of affection that creeps up and looks nothing like love. I want to show that, to us “young adults,” Weird Love is our Modern Love is our Normal Love is our way of showing Love. It just might get a little hairy.
If my hope for this column is to reveal some honesty about the way we fumblingly conduct our relationships, then I have to be upfront and honest. Frankly, I think my love is weird. If I have loved you, I’ve probably written you vagaries on a piece of paper and ripped it up. If I have loved you, I might have tripped you on purpose. If I have loved you, I very likely didn’t make it neat. My love is a little bit haphazard. And it probably smells like toast.
With this column, I don’t promise big revelations. I don’t promise shining orbs of truth and light that illuminate every answer to every question you’ve ever had about love. And I don’t promise that it will even help you “find” love. I just promise it will be honest about the fact that there is no “real” love, no “right” love. At the end of the day, love is yours, so do with it what you will.
And this column is yours too – write me with your stories, ideas, or fragments of reality, and I will do my best to weave them into each week’s column. If you want a vignette-a-week type of thing, make it happen; if you want specific components of affection addressed, make them known! Email me at email@example.com about your weirdest loves; I promise to tread lightly, with a little bit of wit.