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Love and Leather

I met a guy last weekend, an artist, who travels back and forth to New York: his jacket alone was probably worth 3 months rent downtown..but this isn’t about the quality of grey tooled leather, but about love. I don’t write about love directly, I like writing about memories and feelings, and summarizing that big rush of emotion when you find yourself in a wonderful or terrible situation – take your pick.

This guy looked me in the eye and told me He didn’t believe in love.

He wasn’t talking about teenage vocabulary, or saying “I like, totally love this jacket, right?” He had, somehow, convinced himself that love did not exist.

Myself, being the stellar linguist that I am, managed to blurt out after a pause: “But, what about pizza!”

I mean honestly: How can you not believe in love but enjoy pizza? How do you describe the feeling of elation when the waiter/waitress walks over with a slice piled with banana peppers, or ham and pineapple, or whatever else? The warm, soft crust, and gooey cheesy saucy goodness in a perfect triangle..

Well, I must digress. My first thought was that this guy must have had a rough go of it, He left home very young, so that can’t have been a good situation. Whenever I think of love, or feel love, or attempt to describe it (yes, sometimes it is pizza) I do think of my family, because they are the best example of consistent love throughout my life.

To be loved is to be known. To be seen for your strong qualities and weak ones, and be accepted regardless. My family loves me the best because they know me the best – sometimes better than I know myself.

People do throw around frivolous examples of what they love, or cannot live without, or would die for (i.e pizza) but the commonality remains: people want to be known. Somehow, He did not equate love with being known, being recognized and accepted, but perhaps defined those characteristics in another way. But what does he say to show affection? I remain puzzled by his insistence.

Some chase love, hoping to grasp it momentarily. Some know after a few moments. For me? Love was like the snow thawing to give way to Spring. It was a slow, sometimes painfully slow, realization that I was known. To reach that point with someone in a friendship, to understand you are appreciated for exactly who you was, at your best and worst, at your most honest self – well, there’s a reason they have so many books, movies, and songs about it.

Loving and losing does something funny to people – and maybe that’s what happened to leather jacket guy. Opening up to another person in that vulnerable way, and either being rejected, or losing that love, is detrimental. We over compensate: we swear off men/women forever, we vow to never let ourselves become that open again, and attempt to salvage whatever pieces of our hearts remain.

Some drive away the ones they love the most, and blame themselves for years. Pain and regret dominate their waking and sleeping hours. Endless letters, emails, and texts are written, attempting to repair the damage with tape and glue. Maybe the side effects of love are not worth the feeling of falling, the ones the movies, books and songs describe? Can we really have the fairy tale ending, and get to the airport before the plane takes off?

No, I don’t believe people have that one special person in the universe just for them, that some people find theirs and others don’t (although the Greek Mythology thought on that is stunning: look it up sometime). I truly believe love is a choice, it is little choices made every day, decisions to be vulnerable, to be honest, to be yourself. And, if you’re rejected, having the courage to try again tomorrow.

All that to say, I believe leather-jacket guy is wrong. This is not meant to be some grand defense of love, plenty of other people can argue about fate and destiny. I’m just telling you what happened to that guy from the gallery, and what happened to me.

I loved and lost my best friend of many years, and understand the pain that makes you want to believe it didn’t happen. People tell me it was the distance, that we weren’t right for each other, that our lives were on different paths. But I was there, and it was right – it was great. And losing that was, and is, still painful. But more painful would be to never try for that again. The greatest loss would be for me to experience that wonderful feeling, and then avoid it forever.

So if my thoughts ever get passed along to leather-jacket guy, this is what I would have said to you between mouthfuls of pizza. I think you’re wrong to ignore it, to decide not to love. Plus, there have been plenty of reviews written about how amazing Vinny Van Go-Go’s is, and if you don’t believe me? You need to try it for yourself.

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