I have always believed in love at first sight, but not because I’m an idealist, or an idiot (though sometimes, admittedly, I am both). I know there is a thing that happens sometimes: an unspoken electric grounding, which transcends rational thought. This has happened to me. When it happens around an idea, it is exhilarating. When it happens with a person, and you know, in your heart of hearts, it is happening simultaneously to them, it is simply transcendent. This is the closest I can get to my definition of love at first sight– it is beyond the senses: ultraviolet, a silent whistle, a force field which connects two people in a bond at once colossal, and as comfortable as sweat socks.
On the topic of sweat– the sweat of this person IS comfortable. Even when they smell, they smell like home*. My close friend and mentor once put this feeling into words so beautiful they made me cry: once you are weened from your mother’s bosom, you spend the rest of your life trying to find your way back, and being enveloped in the warm scent of the one you love transports you to that primal nook of comfort and well-being.
Being tuned into this kind of feeling makes for some transcendent experiences. There are a few individuals I’ve crossed journeys with over the years who have elicited this feeling of instant connection in me. For these experiences I am eternally grateful, because they are some of the times I’ve felt most connected to God. Being overtaken by a force so much larger than myself, which I have not created, is absolutely humbling.
The people about whom I’m talking are few in number, and though they are varied in many parameters, there is a soul-river of continuity that runs through each and every one of them, by which I recognize them, and which connects them to one another and to me. They are different forms cut from the same cloth. What they have in common: Grace. Soulful intelligence. Aloofness. Luminesence. Their most earthly qualities paradoxically act as proof that they are, in fact, ethereal beings. Every movement is music, presence is poetry, and even their bad habits are bathed in a kind of golden light that makes them not just tolerable, but incandescent.
These are the people that you could lose yourself in. These are the people for whom you’d gladly move to Siberia. If you came upon a situation in which you needed for some reason to drink their blood, you totally would. NO PROBLEM. Ditch your friends, join a cult, fine fine fine.
If you’re thinking, “this doesn’t sound very healthy,” well, you’re right. It’s not. Relationship gurus don’t advocate this kind of all-consuming passion, it scares the crap out of your friends and family, and it can make you abandon ideals you previously cherished. This is all BAD.
But what is good about it? There is one thing– and it’s the thing that love at first sight has in common (surprisingly) with arranged marriage: it is irrefutable. That’s it. It’s bigger than you are, and you didn’t decide your way in, so you can’t decide your way out.
All this talk about crazy, magical, otherworldly love points to the fact that there exists its mirror image twin: comfortable, rational love. This is the love that grows over time. It’s nourishing, it’s thoughtful and funny. It validates you instead of diminishing you. It likes your parents. It changes the oil in your car. It has no interest in moving to Siberia. This is a love that you could take or leave– and by that, I mean in comparison to the former love, which if you “left” it, you’d fear that all the life-blood might instantaneously drain from your body. By having this choice, each day you are actively choosing to take it. The involvement of the rational will makes this kind of love harder– you are no longer possessed by a mad spirit. You are accountable for your behavior.
I know I don’t make this rational love sound very exciting. I have a hard time with it. I have experienced “magical” love, and I want to reach that state of high again. I want to touch God with my love. I have also experienced “real” love. And it is humbling. But for every magical love that has burned bright and fizzled like a supernova, I have had a real love which is permeated, on some level, by the crippling fear that there is some magic love out there, waiting for me, waiting to dwarf my current attachment in the shadow of its spectacular luminosity.
My love history has been a veritable pinball machine up to this point: bouncing from ethereal love to rational love and back again. I have been seduced by otherworldly love and then abandoned just as quickly when its flame quickly smoldered. Likewise I have tried to build passion from trust and respect and all the other good building blocks, and been equally disappointed at my own inability to… ignite. If insanity is doing the same thing(s) over and over and expecting different results, then one could present a reasonable case.
But I don’t think what I’m looking for is insane. I’m looking for a real, solid-state, feet on the ground love, that has that electrical current of IRREFUTABILITY running through it. Beauty and wordlessness and elegance and carwashes and shopping for shoes. Unspoken glances. The only person in the room. And being able to fold that feeling up into your pocket, so it can come with you to office parties and holidays and doctor’s visits. The intersection of magic and realism.
*I realize I talk a lot about smell. Sorry. Smell is really important to me. I might be obsessed with it, even. It’s one of our most primitive senses– and speaks volumes. In fact, I believe that the etymology of some of the sayings which reference smell (“I smell a crook”, “something fishy”) hearken back to a REAL ability to literally sniff out individuals or situations which are amiss.