On Love and Other Stories

What do I know about love? Not much — that’s the safe answer. Even when I think I have a grasp on it, something comes along to make me realize I don’t know anything at all. It’s just a concept to me. It’s the thing that all the songs are written about, the thing that makes smart people act stupidly. If I can make love a concept, it makes me a better observer. And it also leaves a place inside me hollow. Sometimes I can actually feel it. To reach down inside that part — I wonder how it would feel, to touch a void. That nameless empty.

– “The Escalator: A Love Story”, from David Levithan’s How They Met and Other Stories

And so with a few sentences, Levithan manages to encapsulate my understanding (or lack thereof) of love.

As much as it pains me to admit, there are times when I wonder whether or not I’m missing out by being so averse to love and its multiple iterations. This fear of commitment — is it holding me back from one of life’s most bittersweet experiences?

Levithan’s collection of short stories contains quite a few hits and misses. Some stories are unfortunately meh, but when Levithan hits it, he hits it beyond this solar system. His simple, unassuming style results in prose that is realistic, honest, and moving. There’s no filler here. No unnecessary drama. It’s just the story of people, and how they met.

Sometimes love lasts, sometimes it was never there at all. But that nagging question: by insulating myself from pain and rejection, am I hindering my ability to write the story of how we met?

*****

This is from an entirely different collection of short stories, but the sentiment that hit me is quite the same. From Alternative Alamat:

…dreaming with your eyes wide open, of love, and of chaining one’s self to the ghost of it, till the heart shrivels, and blows away on the gust of a desolate sigh.

Sometimes I wonder what it would feel like to love something so much it hurts. Would the pain remind me that I’m human and still attached to this world?

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