In 2014 I had written here about my infatuation with a girl. Reading it now, I realise how much closer to my true self I have evolved. That piece is no longer a representation of how I love. My understanding of love has deepened and grown to the point that the way I love now is almost unrecognisable from back then. Just as a butterfly doesn’t look back at its days as a caterpillar with shame, I look back to myself with compassion and with the acknowledgement that I had to be who I was then to be who I am now. Past me would be so proud.
For one, that version of me would not understand how absolutely okay I am with unreturned love now. Back then it felt like the worst thing possible. Now, it is a nod from the trees, a wave from my neighbour’s laundry in the breeze, it is the ocean swallowing the sun and all its might every evening, a call to remember that love is beyond oneself. I experienced love as something I fell in, beyond my control and something that would spin me off my centre. I recognised it by how it took me out of myself, to borrow from video game terminology – it switched my point-of-view out of first-player mode to the top-view camera. I know now that love is the opposite. It is calm, powerful, and if it is allowed, will take you deeper within yourself. It will certainly spin you off your balance but in a way that is in sync with the great dance of the universe. It is a river that carries the lover with it towards the sea by instinct, effortlessly. Once there, the lover realises that she is the sea and the river, and even the beloved. A smaller revelation was the element of choice in love. Love isn’t just a feeling, it is what you are. It is also it is a verb, an action. A conscious choice.
In 2018, love entered my life again after a hard break-up. It was an unwelcome visitor and I wasn’t feeling hospitable. I was still bringing my life into order after the chaos of its last visit (and apparent departure). Loving and losing had dug out my insecurities, tendencies towards possessiveness, and vanilla fears of being unlovable et cetera. The break-up had scattered them around like confetti of shame. They were painful little reminders in cheery colours – of how inadequate I felt, how I carried a toxic trait from my father, how I am replaceable. The sting of rejection had left me in no mood for philosophy, and I could not be soothed by even Rumi’s verses. His poetry was easier on my heart when was well, but harder to appreciate when all was afire. Then it all changed. As it tends to, suddenly, and when you’re least ready.
Two people came along that sparked off another incredible alchemy within me. A messy change that scooped the confetti off the ground and merrily tossed it into the air again. But this time, in the light of their Love, the confetti turned to petals. The reminders became gentle evidence of my being human with much learning yet to do.
The thing that stood out to me first about her was how still she was, it seemed that the world moved around her rather than she, through the world. I felt more fidgety than usual around her, wanting to balance it out, but there isn’t enough motion in the world to do that. She had an intensity surging through her at all times, it animated her stillness with crackling undercurrents. She said she loved me many times with her eyes, with her actions, well before she said it with her words. Her Love is a language I had to learn from scratch. It is a language I am growing fluent in not through learning it as much as unlearning the other muddied dialects of not meaning what you say and not saying what you mean, that I had picked up along the way. Even now when I doubt, I have to remind myself how true she is in her sincerity, and the trickle of trust flows full again. I can’t say why I love her, except that I do. It began as admiration and perhaps projection, but about two years on, I can say that this has been a revelation of Love. It was a fickle brook changing its course for every pebble of perceived rejection. Now, I’m in awe of the steady river that it has become – thriving with life, vibrant in its colours, varying in pace and utterly powerful in its lack of self-consciousness. Deeper than appearances, deeper than even our personalities, deep enough to leave its romantic aspect in its shallow rapids. Her essence takes me on a trip through the universe. For a moment, I let that surging intensity of hers touch me. It transports me to the Divine, only to find waiting for me at the end of everything is – Myself. Everything is within reach through our love, how magical!
My other dear friend and beloved was playful and warm, and her love shone on me like the sun. Our love grew in a warm green field on a summer’s day. It felt comfortable, and familiar, like the slightly crooked lamppost on your way home from school you can’t forget. Surrendering to the attraction between us and living out the romantic aspect of our love has given our relationship a texture, a depth, whatever it is it feels like home. Flowers grew wherever she touched me, her kisses left trails of starry purple streams. Through the growing intensity between us, I felt it would be impossible to bear her touch, that it would turn me to ash. Home is an ever-expanding idea in my mind. In that moment, home was the way her body against mine felt like we were returning to the state of being in play, as if it had been like that since God was a boy, and we never stopped. She has always felt like home though, even on the first day we met, her eyes were glittering with the collective warmth and love of lifetimes of companionship. In my mind’s eye, she’s a sun. Our relationship has evolved and changed but we are so free and un self-conscious swimming together in that sea of our love. Unafraid to let the waves pull us apart a little, knowing the other is just a couple of waves away. I have an endless compassion and tenderness for her.
How you love someone is a reflection of yourself. And, I learnt how easily, or not, you allow yourself to be loved, is a reflection of yourself as well. The parts of me that shied away from their unconditional love were (are) those that I find unlovable about myself. Here’s the choice – to love and be loved is to allow yourself to be seen. How wonderful it is that everything is yourself. How terrible It is that everything is yourself.
I was grateful that Love had decided to reach me through gentler channels this time. The consistency of their Love and warm acceptance shifted something in me, and now about a year and a half later, I feel another step-up has taken place. The world moves around me differently when I am in the knowledge that Love is in me, around me, and me and that I can’t lose it ever. I find myself walking on air, humming to myself in the shower, dancing in the currents of the throb of life around me, feeling held, protected and so utterly joyful to be a vessel for Love myself. I feel more vulnerable than before, but oh so utterly myself, so powerful in the essence of myself.
The last time I wrote, my words were filled with a superficial and heady intensity which was a drink made of three parts longing, three parts pain, and five parts fear. Time has tempered my love. My love is more mature now, it has developed well-rounded flavours. It is a wine to be drunk to savour and not for the purpose of forgetting. It is thing of gentleness, of beauty, a thing born of joy. Loving them and being loved by them was like being shown the blueprint to the house of my soul and having it being gently pointed out that there is space to expand, there’s a way to let more light in, that the junk in the basement is not too shameful to be seen by others in a garage sale, and the lightness of letting go.
I used to worry that I wouldn’t be able to love or be attracted to anyone else again after these two. Yet, I am starting to be proven wrong. I find myself able to tell someone how I feel in absolute sincerity, and purely out of joy and honesty. It doesn’t worry me if they are able to or willing to reciprocate and I owe this change in me to the ones I have loved since 2014, they have held a mirror to me. I am an amateur artist but loving another human being has been the most breath-taking and creative work of my life.
The past half-decade has given me some perspective on love, and on my queerness. It’s been a journey from the instinctive relief and ease that I felt in the split-second of my realisation, to fear, and despair, and more fear, and isolation, to choosing to live what I believe, bravery, understanding, acceptance, and even celebration. Five years on I think being gay has been a gift that I did not recognise at first. It’s wrapped in pain of being a disappointment and an embarrassment and sheer fucking difficulty of being queer in this country, heartache, and some more, but inside, is the very thing our souls hope for us all to find at the bottom of this whole well of human experience – compassion. Other people’s different forms of otherness are not as foreign to me. I’m deeply aware of the wounds people have that are inflicted by being different. I know how it hurts all the way down, all the way in. It’s my hope that the love I received will reach others, through me.
We rush around as if there is much to be done, people to impress, a world to be saved, but really all we need to do is rest the way an instrument rests in the hands of the divine Musician. Today, when I love, I love with my entire heart, and though everything is in a state of motion dancing around me, I am still in the knowledge that I am enough. My Love for them is a doorway to myself, and beyond. To these two, and to those yet to cross my path, I am in gratitude – thank you, thank you, thank you.