I just read a quote attributed to Vincent Van Gogh: “Love is something eternal—the aspect may change, but not the essence.” It reminds me of the way I regard my former romances. Those powerful emotions are still out there—emotions are a form of energy and energy cannot be destroyed—but they exist in my wake. We molt out of necessity, just like other creatures who shed feathers or shells or skin in order to renew themselves.
Now, I am not talking about the sort of love from which we do not emerge, the people we cherish beyond time and reason. Many of us become so deeply involved in our partners that we cannot recover when we lose them. The subtraction stays with us, alters us; for the rest of our years we live with an absence. The grief subsides, allowing us to eat and move about, while the love goes on as if nothing happened. The love will not be denied or replaced. It is a bare fact. We remain alone, not out of faithfulness, but because we lack even the smallest interest in acquiring someone else. We are bound and free at once.
So what happens to the loves we do leave behind, the tears and vows and rages that fueled those erstwhile affairs? What becomes of the rampant need we had for someone who now brings nothing but a shrug?
When I consider my old romances, I picture neither their ruin nor their passion. I see these people in random snapshots that leave me curiously unmoved, aside from faint sympathy for whatever happened to us. Like the rags of the dream, the details fade away and nothing is left but mercy.
I loved these people, loved them to my marrow. Which I guess is why I keep them safe and tidy into eternity. I see them in the order they arrived, set some distance from one another, on the side of a winding highway. I see them as packages wrapped in brown paper and white twine, and each one has a name printed on it— no address of course. They are not going anywhere.
Photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/halfbisqued/2353845688/”>lemonhalf</a> via <a href=”http://foter.com/”>Foter.com</a> / <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>CC BY-SA</a>