The moth wants to fly to the light of the moon, but instead it flies to the lantern as it flickers in the night, to the porch light as it shines brightly waiting for a loved one to come home. It uses all of its energy to get to a light that is too bright, to a light that unlike the cool light of the moon, will burn it, singe it’s tender wings. A match is lit, and it burns brightly, quickly consuming the small fuel of its stick until there is only singed skin, the match has gone out. Another match is lit, and it instead is turned toward a well set fire. Dried grasses and bark and small dry twigs at the bottom, larger twigs criss crossed or towered above and a small dry piece of wood ready at the side for when it catches, and later the larger logs that will burn longer and late into the night. The dry grass catches, it is like the flame of the match, it can burn quickly and go out, or it can catch and then move on to the small twigs.
In love is the match, in love is the moth singeing its wings on the porch light, in love lights quickly and burns out long before anything real can be made or built. In love is like lighting the match before the fire is set. In love is the husband who comes home and uses it as an excuse to leave his family for another. In love is what teenagers say because of the lust that surges through their bodies. In love, in this cynics opinion is for children and the weak minded and the weak of spirit.
A mother is not in love with her child. She will love that child, if she is a good parent, from the first moment she feels it kick in her belly, until her last breath. A child will love their parent, from the moment they look into their eyes from the breast until the their very last breath. A person loves the feeling they have when surrounded by their family, people they fight with and sometimes hate, people that they stand back to back with, and love, people that share experiences and a demeanor that only family can know. They are not in love. In love is for people who are not a part of you, in love is for people who walk alone and for a few minutes of their lives touch another, but whenever it suits them, in love leaves you. It flutters helplessly against the burning light, and fades just as the sun is rising. Real love is like the sun, it burns brightly, it is hidden by clouds, it lights the moon, it provides nourishment, and days at the beach, and the sparkling pollen soaked glistening trees after a hard afternoon rain. Real love is not extinguished, it is as sure as the rising and setting sun.
For me, I do not want a match or a moth or a badly tindered fire. There is a moment by a campfire, when the laughter has faded, the songs have been sung, the memories have been shared, the plans of the day to come have been made and there is only the souls that shift quiet like in the darkening night. The stars twinkle, and the fire crackles, and the last flames are flickering low and deep inside the fire there is are embers glowing red and black and grey. A moment when your face is warm and your toes are so hot that you have to move them, and your back is chilled so you turn it to the fire, and turn back again. This moment where your own serene solitude is unbroken and at this moment, what you wish for is a face full of wrinkles to be looking back at you. You are not just lovers, not just friends, not just companions, not just a partner, but you are family. And for all the rainy days and thunderstorms, for all the hurricanes and floods, for all the scorching days and sweltering nights, for all the perfect days, and after rainstorm moments of your life you wouldn’t change one single thing except to have spent more time together, and less time arguing about the little things. And when that wrinkled face smiles back at you, with their own thoughts and memories, and their own ugly voice, and their own voice of reason and their own inner light, you accept that face exactly because of all of those things. And that face as it looks at you with the eyes now failing and the farts that let go of their own accord, and the warts that grow on the knuckles, and the nose picked perhaps not clandestinely enough, it accepts you right back.
This is love. Not “in love”.
Love is an ember that burns long into the night, and if the wind is right, and the fire is banked well, and the rain holds off, that ember will be the coal that relights the fire in the morning.
I never want to be IN LOVE again for the rest of my life. But someday I hope to look into the fire and see that ember, to look across the fire and see those shining eyes, and that wrinkled face. And in the morning when my old bones are creaking, I want our weathered hands to touch. And to not even have to say the word love to know it is there.