Gratitude of Love

“Do I love her?” I thought to myself as I stepped off the L train on 8th Ave. I had assumed that she wanted to know where I stood on this subject. I assume, only because, she had mentioned sometime after our first few dates, as we laid chest to chest in bed, that she felt .. maybe something that resembled love, like an infant form of it, that could take shape if only we both allowed for it, sitting patiently inside of her. I assume that she wanted to put this out there, as to let it float around somewhere in the back of my mind, not as a test, but as brave choice on her part to convey that she felt something special between us - between the spaces of our chest, as we lay parallel to one another in bed. I found her courageous, and her forwardness was rather sexy. I, of course, assumed this is what she meant, when she said, “… I feel like I feel love.” To which she followed with a moment of silence, and then “… are you hungry? - I want a pizza.”


What is love anyways? To some, it is merely a word, and to others an action, a lifestyle, a spiritual experience, a religious debt owed, a feeling … . In the past, I was timid, only expressing my love towards those I felt deserved it - which is to say, I never felt like I was in love before, thus I never used the word much except for the few times it managed to slip off of my tongue, but heart ache and much praxis, a community of loving friends have since opened me up to the idea of being free with my love. I now happily give love away, without much fear or doubt. I now tell everyone that I love them, it has found a way to intertwine itself as both a meditation and an action, as an idea I find joy in philosophizing about, as much as I do, dancing with it. It’s magical - love. But love is still an individual practice in my life, it is something that I do and give, because it is of me, and for me, and those who receive it are left alone to process this exchange in whatever way they feel is right. Of course, though in an romantic context, I have felt some hesitation to whether the word ‘love’ in this case should be so freely let loose. If the word itself is up for the receiver to interpret, I wondered, how the women I have been dating for less than four months will take it, to her .. what is love? Of course, I could just ask her, and in so many ways we have encountered this topicality, with each date unearthing its grounds and feeling out its textures, but never have I openly asked her what love was to her, and what it would mean to her for us to tell each other, we loved one another. 


I thought to myself, if we are both all ready practicing love with one another … then why not use the word to acknowledge that we are practicing love with each other, this is like playing tennis, but not calling our selves tennis players, or so I think. Suddenly my chest begins to tighten, I am nervous, perhaps more anxious than anything else. I am worried, that it is too weighted, that by letting this word out so freely, it would create too much expectation, something we both discussed we did not want to have of each other. We were both quite fond of the idea of ‘free-love’, which is that we would let ourselves love freely of one another, without much expectation or assumption, that whenever we had the time to be with each other, that we would, out of want, not out of obligation and to allow this to create a space of gratitude. 


Suddenly it hits me, free love, is letting the practice of love be expressed freely between the participants of this magic, and if this is the case, than ‘love’ is to be spoken of, it is to be practiced, it is to be felt .. that love, in this romantic landscape is somehow far more intimate and therefore, vulnerable, and therefore scary, but worthwhile .. and perhaps this is why it is so weighted, this is why it has been so difficult to say it, that if we only let it out freely … it would become like breathing, like life itself, just a word attached to whatever it needs to be associated with at the right time, in the right place, for the right pair of people, or group of people, that love, the word of it, at the least, isn’t so hard to say after all, or feel, that if we let happen often, it no longer becomes the downfall of our need to love, but merely like walking, or running, or falling, and getting back up … do you remember how we’ve spent our entire lives learning how to move? Maybe this is much like love. That is why, love, moves us. 


As I rush into the cafe to meet … my love, I get a text saying something like this : 


“Hi, I’m running late. The A is the worst, but I just want you to know that I am lucky to be with you, that I admire you as a person, that I am so grateful to have you in my life. So … thank you. I just wanted to tell you that. I’ll see you soon : )” 


As I open the door, and walk in, the rush of warm cafe air, with its coffee scent and soup aroma whiffed into my face, the layers began to shed. I found a corner with two chairs and a small round table. I placed my scarf, my jacket, and stripped down to the bare, a shirt and my blue jeans. I sat there, smiling at my phone, thinking about love. Having convincing myself of my practicality, having gone through enough relationships to know that, relationships are about relating, and a partnership is about finding the right person to practice being human with .. that to some extent it is about money, your future, how many kids you may want to have, if any, and of course, about all the memories you would like to create together, the values you want to expand on, and the stories you want to share, I realized … that love has a far greater sensation to its touch, and this is gratitude. Gratitude is love, that is rich and pure, it is free, and it is no one’s and everyone’s at the same time. Gratitude, is the ability to appreciate the love that someone chooses to share mindfully with you, it is the other end of the receptor, if love is to give, then gratitude is to receive, and both must be present. 


A deep sigh relieved my chest, and I begin to sink into the shoulders of the chair. I close my eyes, and I am filled with gratitude. I am a man, in love. I am not the exception, but nonetheless, love never seems to repeat itself. It is still like our finger tips, the shape of a snow flake, or the stars. 


Some time passes. 

She walks in.

I smile.