I’ve been thinking a lot about love lately. Mostly because I just wrote a book about it. But also because everything outside of my house right now is absolute shit and love, as it always has, provides refuge from all of the bad things. Not only does love itself provide a distraction that’s really purpose in disguise, but just THINKING about love can do the same. Hence, me firing up a cart, sitting back in my recliner, and treating myself to love songs both heartsick and triumphant so that I can bask in both love’s presence and in its memory.
Point B is about young love. I wrote about young love in bare snippets in two other novels and enjoyed it so much that I was like, “Well, why don’t I make a whole book out of this shit?” And it’s not because I’m wistful for my teenage years. Quite the contrary. As a teenager, I was often rejected, lonely, and desperate to find a cure for both of the former qualities. I knew what the cure was, of course. It was a girlfriend. It was love. More specifically, it was the HOPE of love that kept me going. Even though no girl would offer me the real deal, I instinctively knew how good it would feel if one ever did. You have that drive for love in you, just as you have a drive for food and water and sex. You are hardwired for love. That’s especially true when you’re, oh, let’s say 17 years old. That’s when you can feel love so fucking hard that just thinking about it is its own high.
I remember I had a crush on a girl and wrote her a postcard because she wasn’t living near me at the time. She wrote a postcard back, and I was so fucking elated that she wrote back that I showed off the postcard to my friends. A girl had written to me. A real one. Not an imaginary girl living in Canada. And at the end of the postcard she tacked on an “I miss you” that hung around my heart for fucking WEEKS. She missed me. She had been thinking about me, or at least that’s how I read it. I may or may not have told my friends that she was already my girlfriend.
When you’re at that age and someone you like has been thinking about you—especially when they TELL you outright that they have been—it’s feels like winning a fucking gold medal. Because if they’re thinking about you, it can only be in one way. You get to the age I am now and when another person says they’ve been thinking about you, it’s usually because you just broke your wrist while out gardening or some shit. Not at 17. When someone says that to you at 17, it’s an invitation. It’s a step closer. Thinking is the weigh station on a short road to doing: to holding hands, to holding bodies, to not holding back at all.
I misread that postcard, of course. The girl wrote me back as a courtesy. It would take me until after college to find a girl who DID actually think about me, and did miss me when I was gone, and did love me as much as I loved her. And when that happened, it felt as good as love had promised me all those lonely years. Good isn’t even a fair word there. It felt like fucking everything. To know someone has you in their head means they have you in their heart, and thinking about that right now makes me wanna jump clean through the ceiling.