I sometimes miss the innocent love of my younger days, and I’m thankful that I can still vividly recall it. I work with many people who are on death’s door; such is the lot of the palliative care orderly. Daily interactions with the deranged and forgetful, especially ones who’ve been cloistered away so that they’re less bothersome to their families, can be very depressing. There are days when I flip-flop on the matter; sometimes I think it’s a blessing to be out of your mind, either on drugs or from the natural degradation of synapses, because all those nagging concerns that nibble away on the consciousness are gone, replaced by madness, or simply forgotten. To be oblivious beyond your control is undoubtedly horrific, but only for those who observe it. On the inside there must be a rich and deep nothingness, populated only by the whims of a broken consciousness. Me, I’ve got to drink to get anywhere near that state, and on the way down my awareness of everything that I’ve left behind is all too present. The older I get the less it’s worth the morning after.

No, I can still remember in perfect detail those golden summer afternoons when all I lived for was to spend time in the presence of my beloved. I was young, yes, but it wasn’t my first infatuation. If you forced me to count, I believe it was the fourth time that I’d categorized the feeling as ‘love’. This one had been special, though. It was something about the depth of the sensation and the way it murdered the senses. I’ve yet to feel that same sumptuous numbness again. Perhaps we only ever get one of those, if any, or maybe it depends on circumstance and frame of mind. We are, all of us, warbling atoms seeking balanced orbits with each other; to find those copacetic bonds that provide the emotional support and security necessary to get through our days. Not all of us need those, mind you. I’m certain that many of us have convinced ourselves that we can get by perfectly fine without romantic companionship. Whether or not this is a convenient delusion I’ll leave up to you to decide. Me, I’ll take true love any day over the myriad other connections we can have with each other, and certainly above loneliness and isolation.

To have had it and lost it once in a lifetime is a gift, unlike any other. I can say that now, in hindsight, because I know that while I held that love in my grasp, I didn’t fully appreciate it. It was something I fed off, like a vampire, drawing strength and courage from another’s adoration and devotion. It was a symbiosis, at least that’s what I believe now. How couldn’t it have been? Most, if not all, of my loves since then have come with any number of conditions or imbalances, many of which have led to resentful breakups or passive disappearances. That one love, in the summer and fall of 1991, had simply been until it hadn’t. And how can I explain that? How can I possibly capture in mere words the soaring heights and chasmic depths our hearts traveled over the space of a few short and youthful months? Unless you too have felt such things, then I can only cast the dimmest glimmer out of risk of blinding you with the truth that was the burning sun of our desire for one another.

I find myself reminiscing about that relationship from time to time. The memory is always a pleasant one, even if the conclusion was dark and bitter. I wonder where that love went, did the energy pass out into the universe to catch another two hearts in its vice-like grip? I only know that it hasn’t returned since. And when I look into the vacant eyes of one of the patients under my care, I think about how I’ll feel if I someday lose control over my own faculties, and if one golden ray of those seasons long dead and cold will still illuminate my wandering senses.

2015.02.04 – 2023.09.02

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