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What's That Feeling?
What is life if not love?
We spend our entire lives looking for it. From the time we’re born,
we search for someone to take care of us. When we’re children, It comes
without us actually asking for it. If we’re fortunate, we are given
parents that naturally shower us with love. It’s the nature of life
itself. As we grow as children, it surrounds us further - family and
friends. However, maternal security and childhood social interactions
finally give way to curiosity and the urge to step-out and discover our
own meaning of the word love. Sometimes, that’s where the trouble begins.
I was out running the other day in my neighborhood and as I was suffering
through the heat, I noticed a boy and a girl sitting on the roof of a
truck in someone’s driveway. They looked to be somewhere around 10 or 11
years old I guess. They were just sitting there, feet dangling against the
windshield. I’m surprised the parents let them sit up that high. But they
seemed to be perfectly content. As I ran by, they were both smiling from
ear-to-ear and as I ran further and turned my head even farther to see
them, they both simply raised their hands, smiled even brighter and waved
at me. I couldn’t help but wave back and give a smile of recognition. They
were really cute. But what seemed to be unusual, was the fact that they
were holding hands with the other ones they weren’t waving with.
The simple fact that they looked so cute up on the roof of the
truck, smiling and waving to me seemed to give me a little more faith in
mankind. However, the hand-holding got me to thinking the rest of the run.
Were they brother and sister? I didn’t think that was possible, since I
was well aware of sibling rivalries and by that age brothers and sisters
are usually on the edge of killing each other. It just didn’t make sense.
It certainly made me happy to think that brothers and sisters could get
along that well. Were they friends..boyfriend and girlfriend? That would
have been cute. But what is a boyfriend and girlfriend at 10 years old?
What do they know about love?
What do they know about love? Well, I imagined for a moment…they might
have known everything. Their minds were absolutely clear, untainted with
past emotions or existing emotions for that matter. Little minds just
reveling in the here and now. It seemed to be a shame that they’re going
to grow up and carry around emotional scares of one relationship or
another. Clouded fragments of love and lust, trying to piece together some
relationship they hate to be in. Then, eventually despising all members of
the opposite sex because of two or three of the bad ones. Sad and lonely
maybe. At least that is my stereotype of the basic adult relationship
lately. I see it all too often. I see it in my neighborhood. The faint
sounds of yelling inside of a neighbor’s house. The couple at the store,
reaching a fever pitch of evil towards one another over the fact that she
forgot her checkbook at home. Maybe it’s the argument over the children,
money or trivial matters that destroy the strong!
est love in the end. The rumor that your best friends may be separating
and that he’s moved in with a woman ten years younger than he is. She’s
decided to take him for all he’s worth.
“He won’t be able to lick a stamp, much less know where his next
meal is coming from when I get through with him!” she’ll say. “That pig!”
Life’s a hard pill to swallow, when you’ve been down
Heartbreak Boulevard in both directions – twice.
My motivation for innocence and my search for it’s existence often
takes me back to when I was 11 years old. We’d just moved back down to
Illinois from our farm in Wisconsin. I joined a little league baseball
team and the first day we met was over at the coach’s house for a meeting,
a picnic and pool party. There were about fifteen of us boys on the team
and we were ready to get started with summer full of baseball. As we all
started to gather around at the coach’s house, he came up and introduced
himself. He started laying out the ground-rules, etc. But we were all
anxious to get in what looked to be at the time, an Olympic-size swimming
pool. He then introduced his son and his daughter Kelly who was going to
be on the team.
“Hello..what’s this? A girl on the team? Yuck!!” we thought to
They had just started to let girls on the teams with boys
that year. Well, as the meeting progressed and the coach gave us a few
fundamentals that I was well aware of…I obviously couldn’t help staring at
the female. The only complication to that endeavor was the fact that she
was staring directly back at me!! Anyway, that feeling started to
overcome my mind and my body and I started freakin’ out…in a good way. You
know that feeling, don’t you? There is a name for it, but I’m not sure
what it’s called. Most would say it’s certainly not love or lust at 11
years old. Sometimes, you hear it in songs but I really don’t think
there’s a name for it. Some call it puppy love. I like to think of it as
just love. But again, some adults would argue. Maybe they know best.
Anyway, out of fifteen boys, she’s staring at me! I was diggin’ it.
When the meeting broke up, she seemed to walk closer to me than she did
anyone else. She was really cute. She had black, curly hair and a few
freckles around her cheeks and her nose. Even though I’d only been there
for twenty minutes, I was wrestling with this feeling. It felt good
though. As we all changed clothes and jumped in the pool, she was like a
magnet that was forced towards me. We played the whole afternoon in the
pool and for the most part, she stayed near me. We sat together when we
ate and when we were through swimming and I was waiting for my dad to pick
me up, she came out and sat with me on the front porch. We didn’t say too
much while sitting there. At least I can’t remember a great amount of
conversation. But she liked me…that’s for sure…and I didn’t mind. When my
dad got there and I jumped in the car, he winked at me and asked who the
cute girl was since we were sitting alone. I said, “
That’s the coach’s daughter” and the feeling hit me again like a rush of
wind and I had the uncontrollable urge to just look away from my dad and
smile out the window. One of those smiles that’s comin’ and there’s
nothing you can do about it!! It’s that feeling that makes you feel
capable of growing wings and soaring to the clouds. But, I don’t think
there’s a name for it.
I want to put a label on that feeling. But I can’t quite figure it
out. It’s the glance across the classroom as she gets the note you wrote
to meet her in the playground. It’s a little boy and girl holding hands on
a truck. It’s the coach’s daughter giving you a stare. It’s in a song that
takes you to a special place without really being there I guess.
It’s the feeling you go home with after watching a certain movie in the
theater. It’s new. It’s innocent. It’s clean. It’s untarnished by years of
jealousy, rage and regret.
My wife and I have been married for 17 years and the fact that we
have been together for so long qualifies us today as circus freaks or we
may hold a place for us someday in the ancient marital record books
uncovered by future generations. In today’s age of divorce, bitterness,
doubt and suspicion it can bring a breath of sanity to one’s surroundings
to actually experience fresh love once again. Often times, news of the
next high-profile divorce case in Hollywood bombards us and leaves us with
doubts of the future of mankind. Half the friends we have or the people we
encounter are products of a failed marriage or two. They’re a virtual bevy
of angry post-marital zombies looking to capture that feeling once again.
It’s like they’re trapped between life and death.
In our community, I believe we may hold the record for most
divorced people in one location. The bitterness is written on their faces.
Though they smile, it’s a mask that covers up the pain and desperation
that often peak through their faint façade. The past infractions upon them
or those they’ve inflicted stalk them and make them angry at the world,
despite their cordial demeanor.
The hatred of the opposite sex has become the mainstay of those in
failed attempts at love or matrimony. Some of them on their third or
fourth try at their first “true love.” They are in a constant search for
more satisfaction – more love.
Why, more than ever, does the search for the ultimate
love lead to the ultimate heartbreak again and again? Instant
gratification and selfishness has driven thoughtfulness and sincerity to
the back seat and left us wondering where true love ran off to. We want it
here and we want it now. In the end though for some reason, we end up
ushering hate back into our lives.
Where is love we say? Maybe it’s in front of us. Maybe it’s all
around us. We can stop and see it if we just believe it’s there - if we
take it slow. We can hear it, if we stop and listen. But we don’t. We
often than not, get in the car with a friend and run into the bar in
search of our instant gratification. Is love between the sheets of a
ruffled bed or in the hearts of little children, nestled up on top of a
pick-up truck in my neighborhood. To some it might be in the sheets. I’d
have to argue. For without the solid support of real love, methodically
nurtured slowly, passion once again summons regret and we’re in the cold
As I start to walk home, I inhale deeper and begin to catch my
breath. My two-mile run is over and it feels good to just rest. I think
much clearer when I’m alone. It gives me time to reflect. I look at the
sunset in my face and watch the last of the birds getting ready for their
night’s rest. A car rushes by and a siren calls out in the distance and
reminds me where I’m at. A front door slams.
“Go than!”, I hear screamed behind the door. I look over as the man
of the house jumps down the stairs.
“Witch”, he says under his breath and gets on his motorcycle
and rides away.
For that moment I smile and think of the boy and the girl on
the truck. I’m comfortable enough to get it and I’m sure I know what that
feeling is. It is true love.
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