Thursday, April 4, 2013

When Love Comes To Town

Marina Abramović e Ulay at MoMA in 2010

When the artist Marina Abramovic preformed a piece in which she sat in a chair and looked into the eyes of the person who sat down across the table from her, she didn't realize that Ulay was in attendance. The two had shared a passionate love affair in the 1970s. When the relationship faded, they decided to walk the Great Wall of China, each from one end, and meet in the middle for a last hug, never seeing each other again. The video captures the moment they met, for the first time since parting, some forty years later.

When Love Arrives by Sarah Kay and Phil Kaye

I knew exactly what love looked like in seventh grade.
Even though I hadn’t met love yet, if love had wandered into my homeroom, I would’ve recognized love at first glance. Love wore a hemp necklace. Love had a tight french braid. Love played acoustic guitar and knew all my favorite Beatles songs. Love wasn’t afraid to ride the bus with me. When I didn't find love, I knew I must be searching the wrong classrooms, must be checking the wrong hallways because love was there. I was sure of it. It was a matter of finding love.
But when love finally showed up, love had a bowl cut. Love wore the same clothes every day for a week. Love hated the bus. Love didn’t know anything about The Beatles. Every time I tried to kiss love, our teeth got in the way. Love became the reason I lied to my parents. Love had terrible rhythm on the dance floor, but made sure we never missed a slow song. 
And love grew. Stretched like a trampoline. Love changed. Love disappeared. Slowly, like baby teeth, I lost parts of myself I thought I needed. Love vanished like an amateur magician. Everyone could see the trapdoor but me. There were places I planned on going, but my plans didn’t matter. Love was a flat tire. 

Love stayed away for years before finally reappearing. And then I barely recognized love. Love smelt different now. Love had darker eyes, a broader back. Love came with freckles I didn’t recognize. New birthmarks, a softer voice. Now there were new sleeping patterns, new favorite books. There were songs that reminded love of someone else. Songs love didn’t like to listen to. So did I.
But we found a park bench that fit us perfectly. We found jokes that make us laugh. And now, love makes me fresh homemade chocolate chip cookies. But love will probably finish most of them for a midnight snack. Love looks great in lingerie, but still likes to wear a retainer. Love is a terrible driver, but a great navigator. Love is messier now, not as simple. Love uses the word “boobs” in front of my parents. Love chews too loud. Love leaves the cap off the toothpaste. Love uses smiley faces in text messages. 
But love also cries. And love will tell you you are beautiful and mean it, over and over again. When you first wake up, “You are beautiful.” When you’ve just been crying, “You are beautiful.” When you don’t want to hear it, “You are beautiful.” When you don’t believe it, “You are beautiful.” When nobody else will tell you, “You are beautiful.” Love still thinks you are beautiful. But love is not perfect and will sometimes forget to tell you when you need to hear it most.
Love is not who you were expecting. Love is not who you predicted. Maybe love is in New York City, already asleep while you are in California or Australia, wide awake. Maybe love is always in the wrong time zone. Maybe love is not ready for you. Maybe you are not ready for love. Maybe love just isn’t the marrying type. Maybe the next time you see love is twenty years after the divorce-- love is older now, but as beautiful as you remembered. Maybe love is only there for a month. Maybe love is there for every firework, every birthday party, every hospital visit. Maybe love stays. Maybe love can’t. Maybe love shouldn’t.
Love arrives exactly when love is supposed to. And love leaves exactly when love must. When love arrives, say, “Welcome. Make yourself comfortable.” When love leaves, ask love to leave the door open. Turn off the music. Listen to the quiet. Whisper, “Thank you for stopping by.”

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