Love is a Poor Man's Food*

The Man's been telling me about these guys for absolutely ages, but in classic fashion, I've ignored him up until now. I'm sure many of you will recognize this little dance: he finds something absolutely riveting online, and insists that I listen Right This Second while he reads whatever it is aloud, and I go on doing whatever it is I'm doing (trying to decide if my eyebrows are too thick or not, shopping for shoes online, etc). I say, "mm, uh-huh" and offer a few short, diplomatic spurts of laughter where possibly appropriate and then mumble variations on, "hah, wow, that's so cool, who knew?" and he knows full well that I'm not paying attention because I do the same thing to him, and he continues merrily doing whatever the male equivalent of shopping for shoes online is.

But recently, he implored me with more than the usual enthusiasm to sit down and look through these two blogs, and I acquiesced, because I could hear something really, deeply genuine in his voice, and boy am I glad I did. Here's why:

They're really cool! He's English and she's American. They met and fell in love in space of days. Shortly thereafter, he moved to New York, where they now live. Yes, I like their story for its parallels to our own, and I like the feeling I got when the Man said to me that it's nice to read about these people with a really amazing history and I got to say back, well, hey, we're not doing so badly either, are we?

But also, maybe more importantly, I like reading the words of two people who are unashamedly in love with each other. It's nice. It makes me feel all hopeful and warm inside. It's like the blogospheric (can I say that?) equivalent of playing with a very small, fluffy puppy, which maybe makes it sound more trite than it is. It's just somewhere between a favorite old book and a small animal, perhaps.

Part of me wants to say to myself: whoa, now, hang on. This is really, super creepy. You're basically peering across an entire ocean into the lives of two complete strangers, watching their every (virtual) move, and making judgments about them, projecting your own hopes and fears onto them. Stop being a stalker and GET A LIFE.

The other part of me says: oh, shut up already. Scruples suck, and bloggers don't write about their lives in the hopes that no one will ever read their words or identify with them as human beings (and if they do, wow did I get this whole blogging thing wrong).

It's the latter part that wins. You know what? It's nice reading something that makes me smile, and makes me feel normal(er), and also reaffirms my belief that human beings are actually really groovy sometimes.

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It's also made me think, maybe I haven't explained enough about the Man and me. It's always just been that he's a presence in my life (a big one) and, you know, he's English so sometimes we have some really funny interactions. But the thing is that I wake up every morning, and then spend quite a lot of time throughout the day, thinking how lucky I am and how extraordinary it is that I literally found this man that I love at a pub, in Oxford, in a sea of people. I mean, what if it had been a Thursday night instead of a Wednesday night, and he'd been at football instead of the Turf Tavern? I like to think that we'd have met anyway, but life's funny like that--you never know.

It amazes me every day, every moment that I think about it. I don't think about it enough, these days. I used to think about it all the time because it came up all the time, when he was introducing me to his friends or I was telling mine about him. "How did you meet?" they'd want to know, and he used to say, "fortune of chance," and I settled for saying, "at a pub," with the wryest smile you've ever seen. It just seemed too implausible. And implausible, I suppose, it was. I mean (avert your eyes, Mom!), I've kissed other men I've met at bars, too (not a lot, but still), and I didn't fall in love with them.

But I did fall in love with him, and he, extraordinarily enough, fell in love with me. I've forgotten of late not how much we love each other--there's no ignoring that--but about how incredible the circumstances of our loving each other are. We love each other across cultural boundaries and in spite of the distances between our birthplaces. A year ago I wasn't sure how the hell I was going to make a move to England work but now here I am with a boring office job thinking how dull making photocopies is, as if this huge, huge thing hadn't happened in my life to allow me to even have the job in the first place.

It's not that I take things for granted; it's that, in the words of Pico Iyer, who I've been reading a lot of lately, I'm "beginning to domesticate the dream, to know my way around the marvel." Iyer was talking about a place, and I could just as easily say that it's how I feel about Oxford, too, but I think it's just as apt about love. I don't forget that I'm lucky, or that my situation is beautiful; I forget that my coming here to this place (this city, this state of in-love) was so full of chance and happenstance. It just seems so natural. And hearing Ray LaMontagne sing that "love is a poor man's food," when all the newspapers predict a decade of austerity and financial ruin, when my paychecks barely cover the bills and we can't imagine ever having the funds to do something drastic like, hey, buy our own house, only reaffirms how important this is.


*Ray LaMontagne, "Hold You in My Arms"