What does love feel like? I'm not seeking sympathy or even posing this rhetorical question to elicit a response from readers who actually know what love is and how it feels. I simply want to know what does love feel like? At the age of 32, I thought that at one point or another I actually knew what love felt like.
My first kiss was when I was in the fourth grade when I met this brown eyed scruffy brown haired kid named Murl. Yes---that was his name. Murl. He caught my eye many times when we were in grade school, but I made sure that every time he made eye contact with me, I would look the other way. That was my way of reassuring myself and him that I was not interested. It is a peculiar antiphon to someone you are attracted to and interested in, but that is how I react when someone is into me. Strikingly weird and strange. I know.
He slipped a note between the bottom of my desk and slightly above my thighs and with encouraging eyes convinced me to read it. I unfolded the letter carefully and looked up to make sure my teacher saw I was being attentive, and proceeded to read the letter. I opened it up and the letter comprised of a simple question with a supplementary response: Will you go out with me? Circle Yes or No.
Of course I circled yes, and instantly Murl and I went steady (yes I said it--"steady") and the first kiss I ever experienced was from him. We were at the playground and he stole a kiss from my lips, just like a kid stealing his first pack of candy at a confectionery store. I was surprised and pleased at the same time. I stole a kiss back when he wasn't paying attention. Murl was my first "love" I guess you could say. I adored him and admired him. Unfortunately, our love didn't last past the 5th grade. We parted ways when he met another girl and I was heartbroken. I swore to myself that I would never date boys ever again. Until there was James...
Now James was a whole different story. You see, James and I never actually met. He was my first online romance. However, I really did fall "in love" with guy. He lived in Palm Bay, FL and I lived in Virginia Beach, VA. We may have been over a thousand miles apart, but we had our internet connection to keep us close together. I met James through another online friend named Tanya. She and I shared a love an affinity for DMX and Jon B. The two of us would exchange new pictures, songs, and fan websites about the two artists. Tanya one day mentioned she had a friend name James who may be interested in me. James loved hip hop music and claimed that one day he would become a rapper. I was around 16 years old at the time, and James was 15. We would chat online for hours on end. Sometimes it would worry my mother how much time I would spend online, but I didn't care---I was "in love". When we got tired of typing we would call each other by phone.
I looked forward to going to the convenience store to buy a calling card so that I could talk to James from dusk till dawn. I made the mistake once of calling him from my mother's phone and speaking to him for four hours on a long distance call to Florida. I never heard the end of it from her. James and I talked about everything from pop culture, to past relationships, to family and friends. There were no taboos or secrets in our colorful conversations. James was a mixture of Hispanic, White, and Black born and bred in NYC and I was a Black girl from the South. One day he told me he wanted to see me. The time had finally come! The guy who I had been talking to online now for almost 6 months, is finally going to travel to VA to see me!
The week he was scheduled to come see me, I went shopping and bought a week's worth of new clothes from the medial salary I earned as a part time employee at Hollywood Video. I managed to save up a great deal over the summer and could afford my new wardrobe. I dropped fifty bucks at Victoria's Secret (mainly buying bath products and perfumes) and I spent a fortune at The Limited. I was ready and waiting for my shiny White/Black Knight to come to my rescue and pick me up from my hometown of VA and we could find a perfect place together to reside as one and live together in Holy matrimony. I just knew he was going to be my husband! We talked many times about marriage.
Alas---the day would never come.
He was supposed to arrive at 6p.m. that evening. I waited an hour, two hours, four hours, and finally I realized he wasn't coming. I called, but I received no answer. I called the next day and the same thing. Reality dropped like a ton of bricks and my heart broke into a million little pieces that day. I even believe to this very day, I haven't fully been able to get all of those pieces back together. There are shards that are still missing.
Then there was John. I'm not going to go into the full details of this story, because it gets really ugly at the end. He was the last guy I thought I was "in love" with. I was 19 at the time and he was 20. We met at a nightclub near the Oceanfront of Virginia Beach. One of my closest girlfriends was with me at the time, and she and I were having a great time clubbing at the beach. She met a guy at club that evening who struck her fancy and he had a friend who was eyeing me down. I was extremely nervous, because his friend was extremely attractive. He looked exactly like----yes, I kid you not---Jon B. For those of you who read this blog, then you know why I was struck immediately. What are the odds of meeting a guy named John who was a dead ringer for R&B crooner Jon B?
Towards the end of that night, John and I were making out in the back of club. Things got heated extremely fast and if we were somewhere private he probably would have gone to third base. At the time I was untouched you could say and never had been intimate with a guy. John and I talked on the phone everyday and whenever the two of us would meet, he would always greet me with a single rose, teddy bear, or chocolates. I joked with him one day and said, "I wonder how long this will last?" He replied casually and said, "As long as you would like it to". I knew John would be "the one" and when I finally decided in my head that he would be my first, I got myself dolled up and ready to meet him at his house in the summer of 1999.
My first time didn't really feel as spectacular as I expected it to be, and when I didn't really react in a way John had hoped, I think he felt a little insulted. However, that changed dramatically as we got to know each other intimately more often and he knew my body as well as I began to know his. I had experienced many firsts with him and I felt safe, secure, and "in love". We dated for a year and half, and during the course of our relationship the saltiness began to lose its flavor. Things were not the same and distance began to grow between the two of us. I'll end this story here, but when I made it in my mind to break up with him after being mistreated many times, John got very upset and our relationship had a dramatic ending.
I've dated many guys in-between now and then and never did those relationships evoke the same kind of feelings that it had with Murl, James, and John. I was in a two year relationship with someone who I briefly lived with that I wasn't even "in love" with. I think I was dealing with a lot of insecurity issues at the time, and just wanted to be with "someone" to help fill the void. I'm writing this again because doing so, helps me look back and evaluate some of the mistakes I made. It also allows me to pose the question aloud---what does love feel like? Were these relationships love-based? I placed "in love" in quotations (and if I were to tell you this story in person I would certainly use "air quotes") because I'm not 100% certain that I've ever been in love. I read novels, short stories, personal blogs, and hear from family and friends what love really feels like. I realized that I haven't really experienced those kind of tumultuous emotions. Emotions like furious anger, unbridled joy, manic-frenzy, or extreme depression. I feel like this could be the diagnosis of a bipolar disorder, but from what I've understood, experiencing some or all of these emotions are the ingredients of love.
From a Biblical standpoint, when I read 1 Corinthians 13:4-13, I sit back and reflect on my own experiences and realize---I haven't experienced this kind of love. My patience in my relationships ran thin many times. Envy was a huge factor is my relationship with John. Keeping an inventory of wrong-doings and being quick to anger has been a reality for me and my past relationships as well. So if the world says one thing, the Bible says one thing, and my past experiences says something completely different, then my question is what does love feel like?
I still do not know. I hope I will one day. For now I can only speculate, guess, and assume that what others say and what print dictates to me---that perhaps I have yet to learn what love actually does feel like.
To be continued...