“But there are couples who find it sheer bliss to be spending a lifetime with one another. Their bonds are just as emblematic of what is real and possible as the reality of ruptured and broken bonds.”
— bell hooks, “Introduction: love is our hope” from Salvation
“…I believe utopia cannot be removed from the world in spite of everything…”
— Ernst Bloch from “Something’s Missing: the Contradictions of Utopian Longing”
“love changed my face”
— Jasmine Kabale Moore
Like Howie says to Charlene in Bringing Down the House (2003): The cool points are out the window. If I wasn’t corny enough: my partner makes me softer. As if my body knows I’m in love, I’ve been waking up with rounded edges and mouthfuls of sweet-talk. There’s utopia between us. We’re people whose lives could so easily have kept us from each other, yet we’ve met without thread of loneliness, deceit or desperation. We’re not afraid of each other despite everything, and that is significant. Like Janelle Monae sings in “Mushrooms & Roses” (2010): We’re all virgins to the joys of loving without fear. Through love I’ve broken one kind of innocence to reach another — exchanged the thrashing innocence of fear for the soothe of wondering, knowing, changing (repeat).
Sometimes my partner is a poem. We went to the movies; they laughed, at the movies, and their laugh shimmered across the theater, and people, not just me, smiled at the sound. I like the world when it notices the beauty of that laugh. Yes, a human voice can be windchimes.
We’re accidental. We wear the same colors accidentally. We bought each other the same Christmas present accidentally. We’re “cringe” together. We connect telepathically. We time-travel (it was 11 pm then suddenly 3 am!). If we’re possible, what else is?
I’ve been thinking about a better world for a while now, as you know, but each tenderness I experience through love is another glimpse at “better,” another opening. I haven’t forgotten what I’ve been through, but I know, now, that there are different shores one can arrive at despite their disbelief. There is a world in which I hold, kiss, and serenade, and it is good, and my confessions are returned, and new rules are mutually set. There is work in which I am not alone. There is love in which I am not alone. The pushing did hurt, but it feels precisely good to be born.
Sometimes I am a poem. A pile of what I’ve learned. Broken stanzas made coherent together, loosely related ephemera. My partner is an archivist. Curious, gentle hands. Learning me and laying me back down. If they’re possible, what else is?
My darling, my sweetheart, my goblin: I am an R&B singer, and I want people to know how you make me feel, even if they don’t know you themselves. This love letter is not enough, but it’s only #1.
Further Reading / References:
SHORT FILM / SHORT STORY: “St Juju” by Rivers Solomon (The Verge, Better Worlds special issue, 2019)
BOOK: A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments by Roland Barthes (1977 / 1978)