My first brush with you was when I was three or four. After Mom tucked me in but before she put out the lights she would ask me if I had anything to say.
―Are you sure?
Then Mom would tickle me until I said I loved her.
Two decades later it doesn’t take tickling anymore. Whatever I’m convinced I know about you I know from thinking about Mom. Warm, tender feelings; that’s what you are, right? Or are they merely part of your costume, the flashy cape you
wear as you dash about your business?
Speaking of which, what enemy are you fighting anyway? Most people say you are at war with hate, but I find that the people I love are among the most likely to kindle my hatred. Is indifference your true foe? Or are you struggling to defend a sacred ground besieged by opposing forces?
Are you the hero whom the most admired poets and songwriters of our age so endlessly and effusively praise? Surely you are the envy of every would-be lover; to you are dedicated the greater part of our songs, our poems, our art, our film. When my brother was ten or so he and his friend wrote songs about you. I laughed. What could they have known? And now that I am grown, I wonder if I should not laugh at most everything done in your praise. What do any of us know of you?
Or are there more than one of you? And if so, to whom do I now address myself? Are warm, tender feelings your cape or your twin, and how many more are there that I don’t know about? And do you all keep on good terms?
It’s strange how little I know about you, stranger still how much I long for you, especially the romantic you. Sometimes I sit for a moment and imagine your arrival. I don’t imagine that you’ll come in a flash of light or be introduced by a majestic fanfare; I’m not that dumb. I think you’ll slip in when I’m not looking. You’ll keep very quiet and nonchallant, drawing no attention to yourself. But I’ll spot you before long and wink knowingly at you,not spoiling the cinematic charm of the moment. Then relaxed but with purpose I’ll make my way over, squeeze your hand, and gaze deep into your eyes with a very gentle smile, and as we stand, eyes locked, time will stop.
Romantic Love, as embarrassing as it is for me to admit it, I’ve never been in love with anyone besides you. But I don’t know the first thing about you. I’ve only seen you in passing and chatted about you with people who claim to have made your acquaintance. It’s ironic, then that I disparage those who believe in love at first sight, when I myself have fallen madly in love with you, of whom I know only glances and rumors. And yet I must confess, fool though I may be, I remain fully devoted to you.
And because I am devoted to you Love, I want to give you an apology. I’m sorry for waiting for you. I’m sorry for sighing as I mark days off the calendar. I’m sorry for laying back on the couch imagining our first encounter. I’m sorry for hanging pictures of you up on my wall and speculating about how closely they resemble you. I’m sorry for writing you tiresome, sappy love notes. You probably get more of these than you can stomach.
Love, I’ve been so busy waiting for you that I never thought to go look for you. I’ve been so enraptured by the idea of you that I haven’t set foot outside my doorstep. And so, Love, I am leaving you this note on my door, in case you should happen to stop by while I am away. I am out on errands. I am helping my mother in her garden and dropping some letters to friends off at the post office. Then I will take lunch to my girlfriend at school and stop by the hospital to visit a relative. I hear you like doing this sort of thing and hoped I might run into you. Don’t expect me back very soon. I intend to be waylaid by anyone who needs my attention today.