Why There's Nothing Ordinary About Ordinary Love

Photo: Serge Bielanko
Why There's Nothing Ordinary About Ordinary Love

There's nothing ordinary about you or him or her. Trust me.

Some nights (a lot of nights actually), I sit and eat dinner by myself.

It wasn't always like that; there used to be someone else sitting down the couch from me. Sometimes I can even remember someone sitting close to me, knees touching mine by accident, wondering if it really was an accident or if she just wanted to brush knees with me.

You miss that kind of thing when it's gone, trust me.

You miss the solid weight on your soul of someone watching the same flick you're watching at the exact same moment in time. You miss the gravity of simple togetherness. 

Life is weird. I look at myself now and I wonder why — why do I have to live out all these days and nights knowing the couch is all mine again this evening whether I want it or not? Was I a bad person? Was I mean? Did I lose the plot, did I hide from the courage it takes to be kind and caring to the couch sharers I've known and lost along the way? 

Everybody's answer is different. Divorced, broken up, single for whatever ten million reasons we can come up with — each of us has a wildly varied tale to tell. We like to blame other people. It's easier, you know. But I get tired of that. It's too teenager for me now. It reeks of Trump. It smells like backward motion. 

I have to admit to myself that I treated her wrong.

Not once or twice, either. And guess what? She treated me wrong, too. We treated each other like we weren't these magnificent humans we had been lucky as hell to find in this ridiculous world.

We forgot who we were in love with. And with that, we forgot how to love. Then we convinced ourselves we weren't in love at all. And we started looking at each other like you'd look at other people's cars in the Target parking lot: Right through them. 

You see them as nothing special. You see them as perfectly ordinary stuff you need to pass by on your way home. 

And then the love dies right there on the couch.

A perfectly ordinary death.


The other night I nuked some popcorn and popped open a beer and watched this documentary called Autism in Love. I don't care if you aren't autistic or don't know anyone who is — it doesn't matter, trust me. It's a way bigger film than any of that. Powerful, lovely, sadder than f*ck, more hopeful than most movies ever dream of being.

I sat there drinking my stupid beer and I ended up crying baby bitch tears probably three times over the hour. 

At one point, about a half hour into the movie, this dude Dave — who is autistic and seemed cool as hell to me — started talking about true love. 

He started by saying something we already know: that after you go through the whole initial crush phase with another person, thinking about them 24/7 and all, things begin to evolve.

That's the word he uses: evolve. I've never heard it put that way before.

Most of the time people talk about settling into a long-term love affair with someone as settling into a long period of accepting that the "honeymoon phase" is over. We have to work at remaining in love, we tell ourselves. We have to remember to try to love what's his or her face even when we start feeling bored or stagnant. 

But no, Dave blew my mind. I took a swig of beer and sat there on my stupid bean bag chair that my kids got for Christmas, and what he said next made so much sense to me, even too late in my own game. 

After that intoxicating crush stage when two people are bong hit high on each other, Dave points out that a relationship "evolves into the true love stage ... it graduates into a more subconscious form ... light waves you can visibly see to ultraviolet rays. They're still there. You can't see them, but they're stronger."

Holy sh*t, I thought. What a remarkable twist on how I had been seeing things. Deep down I'd always figured that people often tend to bail on love right when they're at the gates of endless possibility. But here was this guy, this autistic fellow in a documentary, laying it out clearly for the first time.

I was crying a little bit at that point.

I mean, Jesus, you'd have to be ice to not break down a little at that point. To listen to what this guy was saying and look at all the ways you once treated the one human you loved the most in your life like they were some ordinary pain in your ass — and to NOT have at least a moment of emotional reaction? Hard for me to wrap my head around.

But maybe I'm wrong. Maybe most people are better at love than me.


I wish I could go back in time. I wish I could do everything again. 

I wish I'd have understood the voices in my head telling me I had every right to explode or to say the things I said or think the things I thought.

But we can't and that f*cking sucks. You can't reverse any of what happens. We're all so dumb, so lame and selfish and horny and infatuated with our own raging desire to be the star of our own film that we piss all over love — usually right around the time it's starting to evolve. 

What would it take, I wonder, to get to that point where the evolution that Dave talks about is all set to kick in and not blow it?

What the hell does it take to understand that, years into a thing, the person down the couch is the most extraordinary person you know and not the most ordinary? 

I have no idea. I just know that it makes me sad that we're into this whole bailing on love thing.

Because love is never ordinary — and neither are the people we fall in love with. It's impossible.

And it's kind of tragic to understand that later on, when all hope is lost, because you f*cked it up.

I figure I was standing out there in the middle of true love's wide open wind gust fields once. Then suddenly/not so suddenly at all, I was somewhere far away. Was I afraid of love? Were we both? Was someone paranoid that our collective evolution would be the death of our very independent spirits and imaginations?

What the hell is evolved love anyway? Is it something strong and supportive and quietly wonderful like I want to imagine it is? 

Or is it like scheduled sex nights and endless tongue-biting and decades of dreaming of escaping into someone's better arms but never having the modern day courage to make it happen? Or is it times of each? 

Here's what I think. (And just so you know, I know I'm an idiot. Look at me: divorced, struggling through life, smiling as I punch myself in the face, drinking beers and crying at documentaries on a f*cking bean bag.)

Still, though. I think about love all the time. I beg love to make sense to me. I dare love to let me prove I'm no ordinary man with ordinary bored eyeballs and some ordinary fatty 2-D heart. 

I curse love so much. I resent love so badly sometimes.

I wanted to do love right, to treat someone so special that they'd probably grow a godd*mn set of Earth Angel Wings and be able to float around on the thermals of my magically palatable adoration.

But I didn't.

Now I write about love and I abuse and exploit it for money with bad poetry and horrific metaphors — all because I love love so very much

So if you want to know what "ordinary love" is, here it is:

Two people coming together, joining forces, sharing money, eating the same stuff for dinner, passing each other in the hall by the bathroom, sleeping in the other person's garlic breath, crying at the same kitchen table, looking at a kid, saying subtly, "We made that," looking at a dog together, laughing with the dog right there on the couch between you both, watching the dog die in your collective arms, his very last breath shattering all over all your secret doubts...

Yelling at each other in the car, recalling the first time you saw those eyes, always wishing there was more, never understanding or believing that there isn't more, sometimes whispering, "This is enough," never believing it, never failing to understand that you have settled, never failing to understand that they have settled for you, saying hello or goodbye in the morning, especially on all those mornings when it feels awkward to say it because you're an emotional fruitcake with a bomb-damaged past stapled to your heart...

Talking hard, listening harder, always being confused except when you're not because your knees just touched and it's Friday night on the couch, you're so not ordinary, I need you to know that, please tell me that, please tell me I'm special — not everyday but every once in a while, just hold my hand when it seems so f*cked up to hold hands, I'm staring at your body, I want you to feel my eyes on you, you tell me to go away but with a slight giggle, our words never fail us even when they do...

It all seems so pretentious written down. Because love can't be written down, right? It can only be lived, real time.

But there's nothing ordinary about it. Nothing ordinary about you or him or her.

Nothing ordinary at all about what happened here once upon a time.


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