Friday, November 06, 2009

Love letters (by Suzie)

I learned to love love from a mother who romanticized romance.

The following is stolen from an email I wrote some years ago to a man who thought I was intense. I'm out of town today, but I wonder how others have struggled with Heterosexual Love in the Time of Patriarchy. TMI warning.

Academically, everything I
 touched turned to gold. But I was so afraid that I wasn't attractive that, when I started to have sex, I learned as quickly as I could how to please
 men. I thought I could be the best at love and/or sex, as if it were an
 intellectual pursuit.

And yes, a lot of men have found me too intense, but then they end up
being drawn to the fire, and they crash their cars or call me drunkenly in
 the middle of the night. When a man protests I'm too intense or passionate, I know he's mine;
 it's only a matter of time. He's like a fish flopping in the bottom of my
 boat, protesting, "You'll never catch me."

When a man says he likes intensity, I know I will lose him. It's very
hard to sustain that over time. My experience is that intensity can smolder, flaring up occasionally, but it can't exist like the
blue tongue in the flame forever.

Tonight is the birthday of a man I loved, and I've been rereading emails to him:
"You do so much for me, give me so much, and I
still misbehave. I have all these wonderful experiences and, instead
of being satisfied, I want more. I'm like a damned child, lying on the
 floor, crying.

"I'm sorry I bit you."
"I long to see you at different times and in different places. I want to see how your expressions change, how your body moves. I am like Monet, who painted haystacks over and over, because they were different in different light.

" 'Have restraint,' I am told. 'Wait for him to make a move. Don't
burn yourself out.' But how do you tell a fire: 'Don't burn so brightly.' I would rather someone walk away from me because I was too intense, I
 was too much, I was too much myself, than because I was trying to be
something I'm not: a woman who follows the rules."
"In class, my least favorite grad student started the
discussion by saying how much she hated
this week's readings. I blurted out how much I loved them and how I had read them to my lover.
If only I had had a little to drink, if only the lights had been a
little lower, I would have talked about your scent and your taste.
'I have hung his clothes from my bedposts so that his presence will surround me,' I would say. 'In the afternoons, if I nap, his
shirt blindfolds me, and I inhale him. When he
crawls into bed, I warm him.' "
"(After my mother's death.) I wish I could inhabit a
rational world of philosophy. Last night, in my 19th century French
book, I was reading about debates over whether men embodied the
rational and women the emotional. I wanted so much to be rational, to
hold up my end of the bargain, even though I know the either/or debate
is a trap.
I wish I didn't have to be student and friend and lover as if nothing has changed.
Damn, the crying is back. This must be some version of the flu, in
which, instead of sneezing and vomiting, one just cries and cries.
 I need to pull myself together and read
a book on lesbians for
 class. It would be easier if I loved you less. (I'm referring to both
the crying and the lesbians.)"

"Here is a quote from
one of the authors I'm reading: 'After years of considering my body little more than an unruly nuisance, I found
myself wanting to yield up control over it, to learn what it had to teach me, to experience the willing or grateful surrender of "I" to
 flesh.' "
"Twilight, and the palms are dark, silhouetted against a lighter horizon.
How do I wean myself off wanting you?
 I don't listen to music when I'm reading for school, but still, there are sounds, the mechanical hum of the machines that surround me,
the faraway traffic that sounds like rushing water, someone laughing
or crying in the distance.
Distance defines my night.

"All week I have wagged my tail to please people. I have smiled and nodded my head in class when I wanted to lay it down on the table and sleep.
I wonder if I exist only as the reflection of what other people