I work part-time at a local coffee shop with a girl named Catherine. I love Catherine because she’s a liberal and a vegetarian and because she’s not afraid to disagree with me. She says she’s waiting for her Elliott Smith (a singer who died under tragic circumstances in 2002). She listens to his albums all the time because his music speaks to her heart. This is beautiful. If for some reason I were to make a list of what I’m looking for in a spouse, it would begin with this: that she speaks to my heart, that I could carry her heart in my heart.
What I learned from my first kiss is that you have to listen. I sometimes wonder if love is the great iconoclast. True love rips apart whatever early images of perfection we might conjure. We can’t project our grandiose plans onto others. What you have before you is a real person, not an idea. That first kiss probably looked like a program about a lion hunting on the Discovery Channel. After the long chase the lion is happy to chomp and shake its prey, oblivious to anything but its sated appetite. It wasn’t until I learned to step back, to listen, to put aside my assumed familiarity and acknowledge how unfamiliar I actually was, that I began to learn how to kiss.