Not long ago I had the daughter of a friend stay over. She’s 15 and obviously relationships are occupying her mind in a yet unknown way. We were cooking together and all of a sudden, amongst steem rising from the wok, vegetables thrown in hissing, she asked me ” how do you know you are in love”?
I stopped dead in my tracks and looked at her, seeing the young woman to be for the very first time. “You’ll just know,” I said regretting it instantly.
“Yeah, that’s what they all say,” she threw back at me somewhat disappointed.
I swallowed some of my pride and decided to be honest. “You might not realize it at first,” I said and looked into her investigating eyes. “Sometimes it takes a while because when it’s real, pure love, it’s a new feeling you may have trouble to understand.”
“But how does it feel,” she insisted, “you must know, you’re nearly 50.”
I understood that there was no avoiding that. She wanted to know and was determined not to let me get away. So I made up my mind and told her what I know by experience:
It’s that one moment you encounter someone for the very first time and all pieces fit, all becomes quiet, there’s no more fear, and peace settles within you. It’s the one into whose eyes you look and realize that your heart allways knew.
It’s when you ask no more questions and everything is possible. When you know you’ve arrived where you belong, when you finally have found your place in life. It’s when it just feels so right that there ain’t one grain of doubt, that you’d leave all and everything behind, follow whereever just because you know this is the right thing and nothing will ever compare to this. Because this is the one who makes light dance in your blood.
It’s the Grand Cru of feelings, it’s when you give up selfishness because you never wanted anything that much.
By then night had fallen, the table was cleared. We had snuggled up on the sofa. Wrapped in the dim light of candles she asked me “has that happened to you, have you found this love of your life?”
“Yes,” I said and felt the familiar pain that left me unable to breathe for seconds, the tearing of soft skin, too thin to resist and barely covering my wounds.
“But where is that person then?”
“Safely tugged into my heart,” I tried to smile, “but not knowing anything about how I feel.”
“But why?” Her young face looked so puzzled as if she couldn’t grab any certainty about me. As if she wasn’t sure about me anymore.
I took a deep breath. “Sometimes it’s just not meant to be,” I started to explain what I had so much trouble understanding myself. “The love of my life is taken since long and probably not feeling what I do.”
She looked at me for a long time, squeezing her eyebrows. “Does that ever stop to hurt?”
“No,” I mouthed the truth only to veil it again as my heart longed to protect that young girl from it. “But it loses its sharp edges and stops to cut,” I let my truthfulness drown.
Only after I had sent her to bed I stood and watched the full moon. I had betrayed my honesty because I wanted to shield that young life from the cruelty of love I hoped she might never experience herself. Should I have been truthful instead?
Should I have told her about that moment you bite your lip so hard that you taste blood because you need a real physical pain to accompany the one that spreads through your body like an infection? The blink of an eye that sends you to your knees praying to a god you never believed in, begging don’t do this to me? The moment you know you’d do anything, you’d beg, steal, lie to have that one person you love more than yourself? That second you suddenly know this is larger than yourself? This will not only break your heart, but your soul? This is the one who will always be in your blood, the air you would kill to breathe? That eternally freezed in moment you realize that no matter how firmly you made up your mind to break away your heart will be refusing you from now on forever and a day?
I closed the window and turned off all lights. My mind wandered to the one whose name is engraved in the secret corners of my heart. I couldn’t help but wonder if the love of my life ever thinks about me