Imagining all the drama, like a film

If it goes that old habits die hard, right now I'm being buried alive.

***

In love, that unmoored place. Eternally, most definitely preternaturally, we cruise for that state, dream of the feeling and, upon arrival, too often take it for granted. That's when it becomes a thing of contempt and neglect. Here are some other things we do with love: revel in it, undermine it, fear it, crave it, rue it, venerate, anticipate and dismiss it. Of all the involuntary synaptic shit our bodies go through this is the most visceral and mercurial (particularly so, because it takes place whether you are having cripplingly good sex or not). It is a coercive agreement with the real possibility of reducing you - at some point, at multiple points, perpetually - to a furor, a bloody splay of raw nerve endings, a ghost, a font of puerile subtweets.

When out of love (for me, this sensation is the most bizarre: it always comes belatedly and abrupt, like the downward flick of a light switch. Just, off.) we tend to regret some - sometimes, most - of what's transpired. Personal accountability floats into the ether, a minute but decisive act of dissolution: our heart's Kanye Shrug. It always feels like a state of emergency, the things we do under duress of love and against the righteous stability of long-term solitude.

What does it mean when you enter into love only to preemptively contemplate a return to that placid independence? Selfishness and caution are probably to blame, but so is biology. You've ruptured a personal delirium and now all that echoes through the pulsing labyrinth of your corporeal self is a squelching siren of distress.

I want to run because there is no burning or dissolving into tears, no panic or wonky rationalizing or perilous decision-making. Fear, lucid anger, or a sense of involuntary bondage do not define love, this time around. There is no disruptive yearning. There is second-guessing. The liminality tests my patience.

But if I think about it, I love: his willingness to hear me, and the ceaseless wisdom he hurls against convention, the safe space burrowed behind those brown doe eyes, and the good and bad relics of healed trauma. He is devoutly himself, and that doesn't match the gestalt of "love" I didn't know I had. But that's why, with my feet firmly planted on the ground, he is the best case in its favour.

The closest I've ever come to unconditional love

Aracelis Girmay + Jenny Zhang