Monday, February 15, 2016

From My Journal: This Is The Kind Of Love That I'm Looking For

Folks keep asking me what kind of love I'm looking for. Well, it's the only kind that I know. 

My parents met at church. 

That’s a really good beginning to a love story, unlike some of those we’ll have to share with our children and grandchildren. 

Ours will probably sound more like:

I fell in love the moment I swiped right.
He was the only guy at the bar that wasn’t saying misogynistic things.
Her friend’s friend that I used to date introduced us.
I used to hook up with your aunt, but then I met your mother, she was the love of my life.

These are the love story introductions that hook-up culture will give birth to. We’ll discuss that more, in another post.

My parents aren’t perfect. I won’t sit here and pretend that we’ve lived a Huxtable existence. We lived in Brooklyn, for some time, we’re Caribbean (or Ja-faking as my mother calls me, I was born here) and we lived in houses where our neighbors were above or below us, and slammed their broomsticks to tell me to shut-up, at the age that quiet is not a norm. We spent our days hand-in-hand at museums and parks. We told jokes at the dinner table Crooklyn-style while my momma stirred together lemon juice and sugar water. My parents danced after dinner, playing everything from Jamaican Ska to Barbara Streisand. They argued on the way out of the door and then made up by the time we'd hit our first intersection. My father has always had a place to retreat--a big closet turned into a study, a spare room, a basement.

My mother has always been good at getting him to retreat. However, they love each other unconditionally. They’ve been through everything together and although they’re pulled in different directions, sometimes, they always find their way back to one another.

This is the only kind of love that I know.

My father was the skinny-Sunday-school-class-clown and my mother was a more mentally sophisticated (as she puts it) sixteen-year-old. They were both the same age, but my mother wasn’t pleased with my father’s antics and knew she couldn’t be bothered with someone who lacked depth.

She said he’d run down a hallway, with his brother not too far behind, screaming, “New girl! There’s a new girl!”

She was wrong about him.

My father, a poet and avid reader, had tons of hidden idiosyncrasies. After realizing his jokes were not impressive enough, he talked to my mother about books he’d read and theories he had. He lent her things he found interesting and quizzed her on them the following day. The proof of their courting is strewn across my bookshelf, their love in frayed borrowed texts and stanzas: I Am The Darker Brother, Langston Hughes Collections, Invisible Man, The Autobiography of Malcolm X.

My mother was obsessed with J. California Cooper while my father was prone to read anything black and revolutionary. He wrote her poems, telling her about his estranged father and absent Cuban heritage. She listened, telling him about her mother’s immigration to America and the toil she and her brothers suffered while waiting for their mother to send for them.

Soon the skinny-class-clown, now a force to be reckoned with, and the sophisticated teen, who often teased my father about not being the only poet in their relationship--due to one published poem in AP English, were falling in love.

“Your father saw me in some tight white Calvin Klein jeans and lost his mind.” 
“Your mother is full of herself.” 

& so he wrote for her:

You were made for me
When the Earth was without form and void, our love was there.
Firm and strong, it pierced the darkness and created light.
Warm and fertile, it covered the barren land and brought forth life.
When God made you, he took my breath away.
& while he marveled at what HE made, I simply smiled.
For I've always known that you were the best thing for a man.
 ---P. Buddington (My Dad), 1986

My parents went to universities a few miles from one another, on Long Island. My father stayed on campus while my mother rented an apartment with friends. They went through typical young-love complications: dating other people when separated for months, deciding it was over and then back on again, speaking one minute and not speaking the next.

Despite all of this, they still ended up together. They were married a year after they graduated, I showed up a few years later and we’ve been one big relatively happy family ever since.

This is the kind of love I was raised on.
It’s the type of love the tries over and over again.
It’s the sort of love that time ends.
It’s one with long phone of face-to-face conversations.
It’s the kind of love that is upfront about intentions.
It’s a love that says what it means, even when it’s afraid.
It’s the kind that leaves the car, in the middle of the fight, knowing that anymore miles of screaming would erode the forever left between them.
It’s the sort that hops in a cab, cools off, and still makes their way home.
It’s the love that is seen in the eyes of anything that comes from their union: family found, children born, teachers proud, and tassels turned.
It’s the love that is only breakable if happiness is separating, but is truly unbreakable if you did it because their content is the only thing that matters.

This is the love I was raised in.

It’s hard for me to adjust. From Blackplanet to OkCupid, I’ve been clicking and swiping for something that the digital world is trying to disintegrate. I meet men that "don't text", most that shy away from commitment, and many that can't seem to grasp that communication is best served in quiet spaces. This is not what I'm used to. However, I'm forced to maneuver carefully through the chaos we call: talking, caking, chilling, kicking it.

Or...whatever is the farthest thing from falling in love.

1 comment:

theaspiringJD said...

My parents met in high school. My brother and I always joke that they set us up by showing us this unobtainable love. They too went through typical young-love complications. Then, they got married after college, had two kids, got separated and divorced, then married each other, again. I used to think it was set up, but now, I believe that even a love like theirs (the second time around) is possible. Keep hope alive.