Tag Archives: Love

Pages for You by Sylvia Brownrigg

Before departing for the USA this summer, I decided to head to my local Waterstones and use up a couple gift-cards I had. My purchases really did seem like a “summer book haul”, reflecting the warm weather, travel, and sociability that was sure to come. The haul also reflected my recent reading choices and the desire to change things up. By the end of July I had just got done finishing Niki: The Story of a Dog and No Country for Old Men. One focused on politics, the other on violence. Both were written by men. Cormac McCarthy, in particular, is noted for writing terse, dispassionate, “manly” fiction, with very few female characters. Don’t get me wrong, I love McCarthy. He’s a genius. But I like to enjoy a variety of literary voices to freshen things up. Aside from the lack of female characters, McCarthy is noted for his interest in themes such as life & death, justice, violence, and he admits to having a dislike for novelists that focus on love and sex, such as Marcel Proust and Henry James. I more or less like both styles equally. My tastes in literature have become a lot broader in the last two years. I knew that I wanted a different voice to McCarthy before going back to him, but I didn’t know what I’d find when I reached the bookstore. I ended up getting several novels from a table with a sign saying “Summer Reads”, mostly by female authors, all of them foreign, and almost exclusively focusing on emotional themes such as love, desire, relationships, identity, loneliness et cetera. I tend to group these kinds of themes as being “human-oriented”, examining the human condition as it relates to individuals. The opposite approach, the way I see it, is a focus on themes such as society, power, justice, existence, politics, and all that, which I tend to group as being “concept-oriented”. They examine the human condition as it relates to groups of people and institutions. What does our political framework reveal about our nature? I don’t see either stylistic approach as being superior or more profound than the other, and what I choose really does come down to whatever I fancy in a given moment. On this occasion, as I said, I believe my choices reflected the season I was in, and my travels to come.

One of the books in the haul was a novel by the name of Pages for Her, written by American author Sylvia Brownrigg. The cover instantly caught my eye; a beautiful woman, natural-looking and unpretentious, staring off into the distance at something. The color scheme was very effective- there were echoes of pop art that accentuated the curious woman and made the book stick out from the pile. The blurb told me that the book was about a woman who reunites with the professor she had a short (but intense) affair with 20 years ago. It seemed like just the sort of thing I was looking for- something realistic and emotive that went to the heart of the soul. It was only when I got home however, that I discovered this new book (published in 2017) was in fact a sequel. I debated just reading it anyway. I’ve done that sort of thing before. But the book was promising to be a hit with me already, so I ultimately ordered the original- Pages for You– off of Amazon.

Which brings us to the topic of today’s post! Pages for You is a novel published in 2001 by Sylvia Brownrigg, that details the rise and fall of a love affair between Flannery, a curious student, and Anne, her sophisticated professor. That might sound like a spoiler, but it’s really not: it’s made clear at the beginning of the book that the narrator, Flannery, is looking back on a relationship that has concluded. In truth, Pages for You isn’t really the kind of novel you can spoil. You know what’s going to happen, and the way it happens doesn’t involve some shocking twist that subverts your expectations. So why read the book at all, if it’s a series of realistic, pre-determined events? I wouldn’t recommend this book to lovers of intricate plots. There’s no suspense here, no revelations, no red herrings. And yet I couldn’t put the book down. I breezed through it like a Liane Moriarty thriller. Pages for You is a character-driven book if ever I’ve seen one. It’s not plot-driven, but it’s no less compelling and addictive. It reads like a memoir, covering Flannery’s freshman year of college. Seeing the world through Flannery’s eyes, interpreted through her unique voice, is the greatest strength of the novel, and the reason I read it so earnestly.

Throughout the novel we are treated to an intimate account of Flannery’s feelings, perceptions, and thoughts, all of which are in flux. She’s not the same person at the end of the novel as she was at the beginning. She’s a fish out of water for a start, having traveled alone from her native California to Connecticut for college. She’s intellectually-curious, impulsive, goofy, creative, inelegant, anxious, and she wears her heart on her sleeve. She’s hungry for experiences. She challenges her self-doubt in order to explore and to learn. She’s not got any prior sexual experience to speak of. She unravels, her worldview expands, she discovers nascent truths about herself that catch her off-guard. I love the little details that highlight the clash of cultures between east and west. I love the way her impressions of New York are tied inexorably to the woman she falls in love with. Indeed, one aspect of the book that I have seen so many other readers praise, is its close examination of tiny, seemingly mundane details. Each chapter is about 1-2 pages long, and a given one might focus on her thoughts about nicknames, kissing for the first time, or simply holding hands. The minutiae of life, so often left unexamined by writers, is something that greatly interests me. It interests me because I often find myself fixated on small things, ascribing to them an inflated sense of importance. The sequence of little vignettes that cover Flannery’s freshman year each contribute to the central theme of her coming-of-age; Flannery’s journey to make sense of both herself and the world around her.

The catalyst for this journey is Anne Arden- a woman ten years her senior, whom she crosses paths with one morning in a diner. This event occurs right at the start of the book; it’s with Anne that this story begins and ends for Flannery. In short, the book is about the things Anne awakens in Flannery. Anne represents sophistication, knowledge, and confidence. She’s cultured and ambitious. She has an effortless sense of style and poise. She’s the reason the adjective “wry” was invented. She has a distinctive, mysterious, intoxicating aura that leaves people breathless and intrigued. Her sardonic remarks and sharp tongue can leave people cold, but as Flannery discovers, there’s a big heart underneath her armor. I’ve observed some readers complain that Anne seems one-dimensional, wishing that she were more well-rounded. However, I think the portrayal of Anne is justified because everything in the book is filtered through the lens of Flannery’s desire. It’s not Anne so much as Flannery’s experience of Anne, her image of Anne, the things Anne represents for Flannery. If we were to be given Anne’s perspective of events, then Pages for You would be an entirely different book. It wouldn’t be called Pages for You for a start. I’m hoping that the sequel explores Anne’s character more, because I think there is a lot to work with. It’s made clear throughout the novel that Anne has her own demons, insecurities, and troubled past. She has a life much bigger than just her affair with Flannery, a fact that becomes painfully obvious to the protagonist at the end. And as I said, that’s really what this book is about; Flannery’s affair with this enigmatic woman, and the idea that as big and special as it seems, there is an entire world beyond it.

I enjoyed this book. The format suited the theme very well. Not only did the short chapters and constant breaks help sustain my interest and increase my reading speed, but it gave the book a picaresque feel that I really liked. Each chapter had Flannery documenting a different aspect of her love affair, ruminating on it, musing about it, digesting the experience as a part of her personal growth. She has to come to terms with her obsessive, overwhelming sexual desire. Then she has to get used to the idea that she too, might be an object of desire, that unbeknownst to her she has an eroticism of her own. She describes being naked in front of someone for the first time. She discusses sleeping in the same bed as another person for the first time. She details at length what it feels like to be in a relationship, to feel anchored by someone, to be an anchor to someone. This is the heart of the book, the heart of what makes it a compelling read. What Flannery confides in us is resonant. I think we can all relate to Flannery. Her words touch our own lives and memories. The tangled mix of curiosity, jealousy, anxiety, pride, desire, possessiveness, and confusion that is the tapestry of the human experience. I encourage you to give this novel a try, especially if you are interested in character-driven fiction! I can’t wait to get started on the sequel.

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My Irish Weekend Part 1: “The Happiest Place on Earth”

When I started writing blog posts that included references to real people, TumbleweedWrites was still in its infancy, and I was ignorant of the ethics of such a thing. I took advice from my roommates- who, being central figures in my life, feature in a lot of my posts- about what was the right thing to do. I made a commitment then to always use pseudonyms when referring to real people, and (perhaps more importantly) to never include mention of a person’s address or place of work. With a glass of Captain Morgan in my hand and a border collie nuzzling against my hip, I went through all my previous posts and edited them accordingly.

As a general rule, I try to avoid writing about people unless they give necessary context to a post. I think that’s just good practice- whether you are writing a short story or an article- to leave out any extraneous details, to make sure that every sentence relates to the overarching theme. And a digression into something that only makes sense to myself and a handful of chums would only diminish the quality of the piece.

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Today, I will be breaking both of these rules- but not without valid reason. Firstly- I will be giving the actual name of a place. However, this place is a business operated by my friend’s uncle, so its address is already in the public sphere. Secondly, any adventure I have with Elizabeth becomes inextricably linked to her character, so my descriptions of the places I went and the things I did will be infused with insights into her personality. It would be impossible to narrate something as simple as going to the DMV with her without revealing some aspect of her wit. In fact I’ve done that- and it was hilarious.

Elizabeth has featured a few times on this blog. Diligent readers will remember her from such posts as Our Only May Amelia and Lamb Boobs. I first met the lady I call “Elizabeth” in 2012 through her older brother Aaron. And to this day she still comes out with stuff that completely catches me off-guard. I think that’s one of the defining things about being friends with her; even her siblings will be left dumbstruck by some of her jokes. In that way, she is utterly unique. The effectiveness of her humor comes from a perfect storm of juxtapositions that makes remarks that shouldn’t be surprising to those who know her seem as fresh and shocking as if you just met. She’s neither a girly-girl nor a tomboy. She can be cooing about how “precious” a fluffy lamb is one minute, tying daisy-chains into my hair and calling me “doll”, before turning around and uttering something so crude that we can only categorize it as “pipefitter humor”. She would be just as much at home shotgunning beer in the center of a rave as she would be going through stamp collections in the company of an old bat with a goiter the size of Azerbaijan. No description I give can really do her justice or give you a truthful account of her persona. She’s an actress, a singer, a dancer, an archeologist, a historian, a swimming instructor, a pre-school teacher, a writer, a comedian, a scholar, a prom queen, a roller-blader, an audio-cassette enthusiast, a Pokemon trainer, and she’s fluent in Swedish. In high school she was voted the friendliest kid in her grade. I look at Elizabeth and I see flashes of Scout Finch’s sass, Tom Sawyer’s thirst for mischief, Mad-Eye-Moody’s wildness, Ella Fitzgerald’s rhythm, and Bob Ross’s chilled-out oneness with the universe- but those are just impressions, and not really that helpful. They say more about my associative thought processes than Elizabeth herself, because in truth she is none of those things; she is simply Elizabeth.

Her husband George is similarly hard to categorize or draw comparisons to. He asked me during my stay at their house what my preconceptions of him were prior to meeting him, and I couldn’t really give an answer. I had no idea what Elizabeth’s soulmate might look like, because Elizabeth herself doesn’t fit a certain mold. I answered that I could remember being very curious who such a person might be like; everything from his accent down to his moral values. I had no idea what to expect- what was the perfect match supposed to look like? After meeting him, however, their relationship seemed to make perfect sense. Their personalities seem almost tailor-made for one another- which is not to say that George is simply a male Elizabeth. It’s more like they are two pieces of a functioning whole, and I had a great time in the company of that dynamic synergy. George is just as quirky and unique as his spouse, and I am convinced that if I met him first, I would have been similarly stumped as to who in the heck would turn out to be his other half.

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Even though George and Elizabeth came to visit me in January, I began to miss them terribly. After just a few weeks I was desperate to see them again. They had just moved to Ireland and I lamented how out of reach my close friends were- but such is adult life; I think your 20s really are the decade you begin to realize just how important people are to you. I had so much to talk to them about that I was sending them 10-minute voice messages on Whatsapp every time I walked home from the warehouse. A weekend was agreed in which I could visit them, and the timing could not have been better. I got a dirt cheap flight to Shannon and a couple days off of work, which, combined with the bank holiday Monday, gave me five precious days with my American family.

Getting to Shannon from Bristol was the easiest flight I’ve ever had. We had barely been in the air for half an hour before the captain told us to sit our asses back down and buckle up for landing. The customs process was as smooth for us as gaining admittance to a Mad-town frat party is for the owner of a D-Cup bust. The duty free was full of jerseys for the Irish rugby team. It’s a tiny little airport but very neat and super-relaxed. Before I knew it I was outside, breathing foreign air for the fourth time this year. That’s always the first thing I think about when I exit an airport- the air. I always seem to be trying to get a feel for the wind and- I know this sounds crazy- in that moment it always seems different. I look at the sky and the trees and the cars and I think about how I’m in a new land with its own customs and history. I think about the lives of ordinary locals who look at what I’m seeing with as much familiarity as I would the sky, the trees, and the cars that pass through my peripheral vision in my hometown. I obsess about that sort of thing- the lives people lead in other places, and whether or not they disregard as “ordinary” the aesthetics that are for me so fresh and exotic. And I’m not even talking monkey-puzzle-exotic or pagoda-exotic; I was staring at parked Ford Fiestas, chain-link fences, and the brick backs of pubs where disgruntled employees sucked on cigarettes while taking the bins out.

Whenever I meet George and Elizabeth we do this big group hug thing. It’s more than a little bit adorable, and it always acts as a way to quickly soothe my built-up anxiety and loneliness. My trip to Ireland was convenient for a number of reasons- I was feeling particularly melancholy and stressed at the time. I’ve come to terms with the fact that depression isn’t really something I can permanently exorcise from my existence; however much progress I make it will always be there, and it comes and goes in its intensity like the tide. When it comes around, it has a way of magnifying everything I feel and think so that little worries become big ones. But standing in the Shannon airport parking lot with each of them under my armpit I felt a different kind of tide, a happiness washing over me, the cleansing effect of which I can best describe as “soothing”. Sometimes I think of depression as being like a balloon in my skull that grows in size, and as it gets fatter I become less rational, more agitated, and it’s hard to think or communicate- but then something comes along and pops it, and all the toxic air is farted away. And there I am- my mind is my own again.

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As we drove through the Irish countryside Elizabeth threw packets of Salt & Vinegar crisps at me from a giant bag between her knees. For some reason they had the mother-load of this particular flavor. I never asked why and they never explained, and it’s entirely possible with them that they were fresh off an impromptu heist of the Walkers factory.

“We gotta surprise for yoooou,” Elizabeth trilled excitedly.

The surprise was a visit to George’s aunt and uncle, who run an award-winning fairy garden outside of Limerick. It’s called Terra Nova and you should totally go if you’re ever in the area. It’s ranked number one on TripAdvisor out of 116 things to do in the Limerick area. I’m always surprised when people I know turn out to be successful for some reason. It’s like I never considered that the people behind roadside diners, traveling circuses, and baboon sanctuaries were real.

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We arrived at Terra Nova before it opened, and I was lucky enough to be given a free private tour. At first when Elizabeth told me that her husband would be serving as my tour guide, I just assumed that she meant it in that casual way a gracious dinner host would say “I’ll give ya the tour.”

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But it turned out that I was getting an official, scripted tour. George picked up the Terra Nova leaflet and looked back at his wife.

“Why don’t you tell it, dear? You’re so good at it.”

“No. You tell it much better than I do!” she insisted, and I could tell that Terra Nova really had become a second home for them.

George cleared his throat and put a hand on my shoulder.

The tour wasn’t, as I would have assumed, a string of facts about the flora or the history of the garden. The tour was a story. It was an original fairy tale, blossoming with creativity and whimsy, that brought to life the plethora of gnomes and hobbits and other statues throughout the garden. I was in awe of how detailed it was- going in depth into the habits and neuroticisms of the garden’s inhabitants. Because I’m lazy, I probably wouldn’t read a written tour if it were handed to me, and if I had come by myself it is likely that I would have missed out on this imaginative experience. George led me from one part of the garden to the next, and I was thoroughly enjoying myself.

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What struck me about the garden were the little details. It seemed that every possible corner, alcove, and space was crammed with eclectic faerie motifs- and each with its own story to tell. Elizabeth told me that she discovers something new every time she visits. You really can’t rush through this place- there’s so much to see that it’s easy to miss something. When you first arrive it looks smaller than it actually is, because there are no wide open spaces. The whole place is made up of tiny, enclosed grottoes and narrow footpaths shaded by thick canopies. You go from one little area to the next and remark “Well heck, there’s more!”

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George’s uncle joined us for some scalding-hot instant coffee by the pond, and told us how he is always adding to the place, thinking up new stories to tell. It’s such an interesting and quirky place, and you’d be remiss to leave it out of your trip if you find yourself in the greater Limerick area. I lamented that I was only stopping by; if I were a local I would come to Terra Nova on my weekends and just read in one of the gazeboes. It’s so serene and enchanting. It actually won the title “The Best Garden in Ireland”, but I prefer Elizabeth’s name for it: “The Happiest Place on Earth”.

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Wanna know more about Terra Nova Gardens? Click here to see their website!

Adelaide’s Story

I was wondering, as I went on my run this morning, how best to tackle this post. It’s been wet all week but it hasn’t rained. A thick and creamy mist has surrounded the valley in which I live and it’s been hard to tell where the mist ends and the colorless sky begins. It makes the sky seem lower, the horizon nearer. It’s left me with the dreamy quality of being at the bottom of the ocean, as though the sky might crack and I’d be washed away. Today, however, it’s been bright and cloudless. It’s cold, but the sky is blue. I figured the time was right. I made my usual turn where the edge of town is separated by a lonely road from the pastures of sheep, and thought to myself: this post shouldn’t be difficult to write at all. And yet it is. So I might as well start at the beginning.

When they found Adelaide, she was a nameless Border Collie living in the streets of some Mississippi town, barely a few months old. She was rescued and ended up in the Bay Area of Wisconsin where they hoped someone would take her in. And someone did. That someone was my long-suffering American roommate Aaron, who got Adelaide as a Christmas gift for his soon-to-be fiancée Anne-Marie. I didn’t meet the pupper until the summer of 2016 when the three of us got back from our travels in Europe.

It’s hard to talk about just how profoundly this dog has affected me. It might be something like “masculine pride”, or perhaps it’s a deeper issue I have with seeming weak. But I thought to myself on my walk this morning, what the hell kind of psychological issues do I have if I’m equating love with weakness? When I got the news last year that Adelaide had contracted Dirofilaria immitis, I was broken. Like so many vile entities in this world, the heartworm is spread by the bites of mosquitoes. More than likely it happened during her days as a street dog in the muggy bayous of Mississippi. But that wasn’t important. What I wanted to know was how we were going to take care of our girl.

For the better part of a year Adelaide (also known as “Pun’kin”, “Toots”, or simply “Addie”) has been on a strict regimen of heart medication to help kill the parasite. We had no idea how long the heartworm had been inside her, or how advanced the infection was, but we hoped against hope that the pills would save her. I was shocked by how depressed the news of her illness made me. I found it hard to justify why I was so withdrawn and humorless after the diagnosis. I had never experienced this kind of love, and for a few weeks I entered a kind of grief that touched every part of my behavior, drive and body language. In those days, I was still in recovery after a series of depressive “episodes”. I hadn’t found my rhythm yet. I was still searching for a reason to want to stay alive. And after Addie’s diagnosis I became consumed with morbid thoughts that the unthinkable might happen. I also worried that, if the medication was successful, would Addie still be the same afterwards?

The pills were only a part of what she went through. Her diet changed. She had to stay indoors more so she didn’t get too excited. She lost a ton of weight. She spent the majority of her time sleeping and resting. She couldn’t play like she used to. I went back to see Adelaide this year, desperate to get in as much time with her as possible in case something awful were to happen. I never conveyed this in so many words; I had to try and support her parents- my best friends- and manage my anxiety accordingly. By the time I returned to Texas, she was in the final stage of recovery. I was glad to see that Adelaide was still Toots. What I mean by that it is, she had retained the aspects of her personality that had earned those nicknames.

But who is Tootie and what makes her so special?

She’s an extremely active dog by nature. It’s not just that she’s got so much energy that makes her so lovable, but it’s that this energy is always channeled through excitement. She can jump as high as my chin. She loves squirrels and she loves the birds. When the neighborhood kids see her they tell us how she is the sweetest dog around, and she obligingly lets them pet her.

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She loves belly rubs. Baby girl will spread herself across your lap as you scratch her pinky underbelly and massage her floppy ears.

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This dog acts like it’s your birthday every time she sees you. When I wake up, she’s waiting outside my door and jumps up and down, and climbs up the side of my body for a scratch. When her mom comes home from work, she practically explodes with excitement, watching her out the window and sprinting around the house until Anne-Marie comes through the door.

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Addie Cakes loves unconditionally. If you are sad or sick she will curl up like a donut at your side and watch over you. She bestows little blessings in the form of doggie-kisses. She treats her dad like a climbing frame and it reminds me of a bear cub having drank a scavenged gallon of blackcurrant Fanta and jumping all over their weary papa bear getting him to play with her. She lets her mom dress her up in cutesy outfits and will dance with her in the evenings as she sings “A-meri-can pup”.

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When I came back, Addie was still the same. As the summer went on she became more and more active. Her recovery was finished but it would be several months before we knew if it had worked or not. We took her out to the dog parks of Houston and let her run free for the first time in months. She was growing happy and strong.

Eventually I returned to the United Kingdom. The time for her blood test approached and I could feel my anxiety ramping up. It’s been a difficult October for a variety of reasons. I’ve seen a real threat to my progress manifest in several simultaneous concerns, both emotional and creative. The looming test results made everything worse. I felt myself unconsciously preparing for grief. Now the tragedy of it all felt very real. The idea that our world could be turned on its head in a few days was a strange thing to process. I’m not sure I’ve really experienced anything like it.

Last night the results of Adelaide’s blood test came back.

She had tested Negative. The heartworm was gone. Take that you piece of Mosquito filth! Our little pup will now live a long and healthy life. What has been a difficult month (for a variety of reasons) is ending on a very positive note. It’s strange to think of this event as a kind of bifurcation. We were at a crossroads and thankfully we didn’t end up on a road that would have been extremely difficult and damaging. When you love someone deeply, they have a power over you. You are invested in everything they do; their misfortune becomes a devastating force to your own journey. It kind of reminds me of a post I wrote when I was in Greece on the nature of Philia, and how the happiness of your loved ones becomes your own happiness. The same is true with its opposite. Allowing yourself to love is a risk, but I’m sure one that many would argue is worth taking.

Philia: My Thoughts on the Love of Friendship

I’ve been spending some time relaxing on the Greek island of Crete recently, and I’d be lying if I said my time spent exploring nearby Minoan ruins and getting my feet chewed up at the local fish spa hasn’t limited my ability to get some writing done. So I’ll leave you with a short piece about what’s been on my mind today. Hell, I’ll do better than that- I’ll open my damn heart to you. Greece is a romantic country. I’m not talking about the sexual kind of romance per se, although that’s certainly part of it. The people that populate these lands of olives and seashells and turquoise are an emotive, expressive bunch. They communicate in such a poetic way, weaving their hands in graceful gestures of innate rhythm, the cadence of their voices songlike and theatrical. The Greek language itself is a point of fascination for me; perhaps more so than its fine food and dancing, the ancient language of these islanders is so indicative of a culture that has persevered through thousands of years of outside oppression and occupation.

What I’m interested in most of all is love. It’s easy to mock the cliché of it all when taken at face value, but when you sit down and think of it, the concept of love and what it is and what it means is perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the human experience. And at the end of the day, that’s the only thing worth talking about- the human heart in conflict with itself, as Faulkner put it. Every society that’s ever existed, every culture from the mountains of Peru to the frozen taiga of Irkutsk, has an idea of love and has tried to refine it through various means of creative expression. But it’s an elusive thing. Of course nothing is outside of the realm of science and it’s based in chemical reaction, but it’s such an overpowering, arresting phenomena that we can’t help but think of it in more lyrical and fanciful terms. It exists as much as an aspect of human biology as it does as an idea- and one that can be approached in many ways, over and over again throughout history.

I find that very compelling, the way science and art are intertwined, the way poets and musicians have tried to reduce the immensity of it into something sharp, simple and memorable down the millennia. The Greeks have six words for love. They communicate their concept of love in a way that’s entirely their own. The kind of love I’ve been thinking about today, in the breeze of salt-water that swoops off of the Aegean, is what the Greeks call Philia. This is the love that exists between friends and comrades. I’ve been fortunate enough to experience this in my life, and it’s not a word I throw around lightly. To me, love has a pretty strict distinction from just liking or being friendly with someone. We all know people in our lives that we like, whose company we enjoy, but how many of these can we say we are in love with? It’s a word that people- especially men- are hesitant to use in the context of friendship. Perhaps it makes people uncomfortable. I think a lot of people think you can’t really express Philia, or that it isn’t really meant to be expressed; it simply exists and we should stop thinking about it and just exist in it. But to me it’s such a powerful, such an extraordinary sensation, that I can’t really call myself a writer and not discuss something that is so integral to my life.

I knew from the beginning that a post like this would run the risk of being so sappy it’ll leave my readers puking their lungs out all over their keyboards, but bear with me. To me, the difference between a friend I like and the experience of true Philia– a friend I love- has everything to do with what I think love is. For me, to love someone is to discover a part of yourself you never knew quite existed. When you miss someone, when you feel their absence as a literal ache, that is when a person is a part of you and when you know love exists. I think it works the same for friends, family and sexual partners in that regard. In my definition of it, it’s a great joiner. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced genuine love in the sexual sense; for sure I have liked girls and been driven to acting stupid because of that attraction, but as for deep, romantic love- no, that’s not yet emerged in my life with any clarity. I think if you have experienced any kind of love at all you can consider yourself lucky. I know I do, because of my experience of Philia.

I started thinking about all of this because of the book I was reading today. It triggered a memory from last year and gave me a fresh interpretation of love that I can’t get out of my head. I’ll post the extract for you below. I love how the character’s definition of love captures so well the way we perceive it and how it makes us feel.

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I’m going to respect the privacy of my personal life that must remain separate from my blog, but I will say that the passage above perfectly described the feelings I experienced a year ago in Barcelona when my two best friends got engaged. When a relationship is as strong and inspiring as that of my two friends, and when those in love with each other mean so much to you, the relationship itself takes on a larger meaning. In a way it feels as if on some level it belongs to all those who love them, and that we are partaking in some small way on their journey. I remember distinctly the sights and sounds and smells of Barcelona that day and it will forever be attached to what happened there between them. Like Greece and much of the Mediterranean, Catalonia is a romantic place full of romantic people. I might even go as far as to say that Barcelona is the most beautiful city I have ever been to. I am unable to see it as anything but the city of love. The soft glow of the lamps above the narrow, Gothic streets seem to scream romance. The experience of seeing each of your two best friends find such happiness in one another has been the most rewarding and profound sensation of my life. It’s worth writing about.

 

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Thank you for reading! As usual I went a little longer than I expected with this one. Let me if you like this kind of content and if you think it works. Don’t be shy! I’d love to hear your thoughts. Of course, if you did enjoy it, I would really appreciate it if you Liked or Subscribed!