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Rummaging through my mother’s antique dresser, looking for scotch, or some other stoic spirit that could bide me well through a teenage evening of debauchery, I discovered hundreds and hundreds of worn love letters bundled in twine in an old biscuit tin. Cautiously I untied the knot of one bundle. They weren’t signed from my mother but from my grandmother, Thora:
All I want to do tonight is not write a line or speak a word but snuggle down in your arms, my head on your shoulder and my soul in communion with yours in the perfect unity of our love. And that is what I’m going to do now. Goodnight my darling, I love you so.
Eyeing off a bottle of port, I returned the letters to their cave. They served some interest. I was sixteen and currently engaged in a heated debate with a girl at school over the meaning of love. She had asked if I loved her. I asked her to explain what love meant. She couldn’t. I tried.
It was my first crisis of meaning. I should have just told her I loved her rather than tussle over semantics. The meaning would have followed the proclamation. As Irving Singer writes:
What looks like a seizure from without — the innocent and hapless individual suddenly being struck by an arrow from cupid’s bow — may therefore be taken as a manifestation of meaning being created in accordance with whatever needs or desires the lover accepts as paramount at the moment.
The only issue with cupid’s arrow was that my paramount need and desire was a need and desire for meaning. The arrow would not strike until I could manifest meaning.
I sought the letters. I believed the meaning of love could be uncovered in their bittersweet correspondence. I only had to read that line again to know it was not. She did not want to write or speak…
ISSN 1799-8549 (Painettu/Printed)
ISSN 1799-8557 (Verkkolehti/Online)
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