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originally published August 2001 / Essence magazine

My love for him is wide. My soul reached out and chose him. It holds on even when I want to be free. When we come together, it is all the things I'm told are dangerous to seek. It's perfect. Every moment is a dream. It transcends who we are, the other lovers we might know. It's all things made possible. It's utterly distracting. When we make love, it feels as if he is trying to disappear inside me, as if he wants to climb inside and make me his home. When we collaborate,

I can see our future, a full life of love and art and purpose. Our conversations are marked by both kindness and a deep desire to understand.

Our connectedness feels many lifetimes old, and easy. When we part, and we do, for years at a time, I have private conversations with him in my mind. I need to know if he thinks my absurd thoughts might be brilliant. I want to know if he read the same book I did, if he knows to see the movie I just loved. Walking down the street I find myself laughing aloud at some quirky observation he made nearly 18 months before. I imagine him in his apartment with his imported vinyl, or on his farm with his children. I conjure in my mind his long fingers, his light touch, his comfort with silence, his bizarre sense of humor. I keep him near me in this parallel reality because to banish him altogether would be for me a virtual death. Loving him, I've learned my passion is a boundless place, impossible to map or contain.

Unchecked, I worry: Is my passion no different than romantic obsession? Is this lover, unable to totally commit no matter how complete our love, merely living proof of my own woundedness? Can my passion weather his moodiness? I am afraid that my hunger for him is matched only by his for other women. And now I understand blues women who cut their men. Or burned them with grits. But because I know this man, because I have held his heart in my hands,

I find it impossible to truly judge or be angry with him. I'm disappointed, certainly, at the reckless way he sometimes moves through life. But no more so than I am with the many ways I have betrayed and hurt the ones I truly love.

He calls my love a pretty pressure, and concedes to failure before he even gives us a chance. I accuse him of cowardice, because crippling a giant love like ours is a way to do less living. So I punish him with my absence, create distance between the nape of my neck and his kisses, as if wind could be bottled. I don't want passion that is measured by fits. I don't want to be so damn Billie. I try so hard to get it right. I try, as my therapist friends recommend, to "disentangle," and where I can manage, I do. I visualize the mature, whole relationships I'm told to want. I even make attempts at them, but it is our love, burdened by the irreversible pain we have caused each other, that occupies, as if in protest, the seat of my heart. This stormy love, this makes-me-feel-alive love, this private,

nameless love, this hold-on-my-soul love.


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