A Love Thing

Nina Simone14%20wiki - A Love Thing
Nina Simone in 1982. Photo by Roland Godefroy.

It is one of those 4 A.M. nights and my “blog” time is up, so I might as well go with what is upon me. After all, isn’t a blog really just a diary gone public; everyone putting their two cents in for all the world to see? Just the word “blog,” can make me cringe, and I did resist this whole idea at first. Now, each time the month rolls around, I kick and procrastinate until I finally surrender. But in the end, I find that I learn something, however small, about myself and myself in life, and somehow I feel larger for it.

I guess it’s Ronald Coleman who started the slide tonight. Or was it Frank Capra and his devotion to detail in his early film “Lost Horizon?” Any which way, it has created an avalanche of love thoughts spilling over like boiling milk—the river birch in my yard, with its split trunk and leggy arms, all feminine and leaning; this month, it is the trumpet of Harry James, big and a bit sentimental but blowing straight to my heart. Even Doris Day, who I clucked at for decades, all of a sudden has me swooning with her silky voice. Then there are my big steady ones: Charlie Parker’s “ Confirmation;” Sviatoslav Richter playing Rachmaninoff; Joan Osborne singing anything; Bob Dylan for writing everything (just take a look at his songbook); Leadbelly for his tough sweetness; Miles always; Coleman Hawkins; Tom Waits; Etta James; Bach; Nina Simone, and just about everything Italian. T.C. Boyle for writing his perfectly brilliant love story Swept Away; Baudelaire for helping me through my youth and then some; Adrienne Rich; W.S. Merwin; e.e. cummings; Anne Carson; James Dickey; Edith Wharton; Julio Cortazar; Walt Whitman; Melville; Marianne Wiggins; Rilke for everything; George Stevens; Bergman; Herzog; Kurosawa; Barbara Kopple; Jim Jarmusch; Hitchcock: it’s turning into a love thing. And then there’s death: my father dying in my arms; my two friends dying in my arms; my eleven friends dying of AIDS and cancer between 1988 and 1996; my days at the local hospital assessing suicidal patients; my husband to be who took his own life, and more.

How is it that the unbearable, if one can hold on, always moves into love? Is it because we are stretched beyond imagining, and with it, our hearts just expand? If we are touched by the cruel hand of life, aren’t we always touched by love even in its absence? Is this the ultimate paradox; the bottom line paradox of life… is this what Rollo May speaks of when he stated, “I use the word paradox to describe the relationship between two opposing things which, even though they are posited against each other and seem to destroy each other, cannot exist without each other.” In her story “Beloved,” Toni Morrison writes about the brutal scars of slavery and the transcendence in suffering; “the dark, dark liver—love it, love it, and the beat and beating heart, love that too. More than eyes or feet. More than lungs that have yet to draw free air. More than your life-holding womb and your life-giving private parts, hear me now, love your heart. For this is the prize.”

So here I am, lucky by all standards. Never enslaved, never in the trenches of war, never a famine or the victim of genocide, gifted with the freedom of my moment in time. I can grieve large and I can love large, and I can feel angst until the night rolls into day and back into night. And I can love the moments even more because I know they are fleeting and always on the verge of change. So I say grab the love when it comes by, because even though it might threaten to kill you, if you can hang on for the ride it will take you to the unexpected inside yourself.

— Bonnie Fitz-Gibbon

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