Note: This entry was originally written on February 14, 2004 and posted in my late, great (well...) Diary-X diary. It still applies, so here it is.
With the approach of Valentine's Day, I've been thinking a bit about love.
In writing Girl Clown, I got immersed in remembering one of the Grand Passions of my youth. He was tall, well-built (impressive shoulders!), blonde, not traditionally good looking, but hot as all get out. He was also great in bed. Helluva combination, eh? I was totally hooked on him, madly in love with him. He could have asked me to walk behind him on my knees and I would have happily done it.
I knew very little about his past. He was born and raised in Paterson, New Jersey. The name he went by was not his given name; I found out his real name when I saw his driver's license. (I wasn't snooping; he asked to hold it for him after we had been in a bit of a car wreck. I simply took advantage of the opportunity to find out some details.) He was four years older than I chronologically; probably 20 years older than I emotionally and experientially.
He had a sister, with whom he was close. He lived in San Francisco when he wasn't putting up tents. He worked in a waterbed store (how cool was that?). I actually spoke to his parents once on the phone; they seemed like very nice folks and gave me his sister's number.
He got busted for possession of hashish while still in college and served some time in prison. It only added to his mystique and made him even more attractive.
I never asked questions. I just took in information as he gave it. Maybe I was afraid to ask questions that I didn't want to know the answers to. Questions like:
Are you married?
Do you have a girlfriend?
Am I your girlfriend or just the girl you fuck?
Do you love me?
I was so young, only 24. Twenty-four is so terribly young, from where I sit.
We did have a lot of fun together. He taught me how to drive a standard shift, three-on-the-tree, in Jackson, Mississippi. We survived a shakedown by the Mississippi State Police, near Natchez. We drank a lot and smoked a lot of pot; listened to loud rock and roll and walked through the French Quarter. He liked Willie Nelson's "Red-Headed Stranger"; I think he identified with it. He smoked unfiltered Camel cigarettes and was a little too fond of cocaine.
He once told me that he thought "Jessica" by the Allman Brothers Band was full of pain. (I always thought it was kind of joyful.)
Once, in the night, I whispered that I loved him, just loud enough for him to hear, not even looking at him. It was the biggest chance I ever took with him. He wrapped his arms around me and hugged me tighter than I'd ever been hugged, but he said nothing.
I took that as "I love you, too."
I was an optimist.
We managed to get jobs on the same show. He hated the bosses; they hated him. He got fired after a week and left. I wanted desperately to go with him; he wouldn't let me. I got a long letter from him shortly afterward; it made me absurdly happy and hopeful that we'd be together eventually.
A couple weeks later, when I was feeling depressed, I wrote a needy, tearful, horrible letter and had the bad judgment to mail it.
I never heard from him again. I don't know whether he even got that letter, but it doesn't matter.
I choose to remember the fun things about him; I fictionalized him as loving me back (though in reality I was never sure). He remains a Grand Passion; a fond memory of that time of my life.
But you know what? Looking back, I'm glad I never heard from him again. Because while he may have been a Grand Passion, he was not my True Love.
It's an important difference. Grand Passion is a part of True Love, but only a part. True Love is so much more. Grand Passion enslaves your heart. True Love frees your heart and lets it soar.
Happy Valentine's Day to my Joe, my one True Love.