Sunday, March 1, 2009

Mechanics of Romantics? Don't ask me!



The book, According to the Cosmology of Reya (a book that exists only in my head but from which I can quote on the spot, anytime), is missing an important chapter, the chapter about the cosmology of romantic love. I don't get it.

Of course I'm not the only one who doesn't understand the mysterious force that sometimes flows through two people, turning their worlds upside down for awhile, sometimes forever.

You know that thing that happens in the movies, like in West Side Story when Maria and Tony see each other at the school dance and everything goes away? I've had that happen to me once, long ago. What is it that's happening when everything goes away? Why does everything go away?

Sometimes romantic love arrives smack dab in the middle of an ongoing friendship, like a meteorite from outer space. I hear stories all the time of people who have known each other awhile, maybe they worked together or whatever and were just friends. But then suddenly something happens and then they are in love, just like that. How do you explain that way of falling in love? Does anyone out there have an answer?

A friend says it's the Devil that causes people to fall in love. Other people believe in the metaphor of Cupid's arrow, which is pretty much the same idea, that romantic love comes from out of the nowhere. My working theory of the moment has to do with the idea of confluence; that several different forces of nature coincide in time/space. That confluence creates a critical mass that sparks love whether it's the everything-goes-away variety or the sudden-change-in-an-existing-relationship kind.

As a theory this is rather thin. Maybe that chapter in my book will only be a page or two long, who knows? I'm curious - not about the specifics, and no one has to remind me that hormones, chemistry and willingness are part of the equation, or that those components never guarantee that love will occur. What is going on, beyond what we already know, that brings romantic love into being? Any thoughts?

47 comments:

Auntie, aka cagny said...

Good morning R,
I doubt anyone has an answer to your question.
But I will come back and see your comments later. Maybe I am wrong!

John Hayes said...

There have been a couple of loves with whom I connected pretty much immediately-- one is my dear wife Eberle, back when we first met in 1984, tho we really didn't get together as a couple until 1997. A lot had to do with the way our minds connected so quickly. There was one other woman with whom I was desperately smitten a bit later in the 80s, & that one has always been very uncanny to me-- again, a lot had to do with poetry (we were/are both poets), wit & humor & intelligence & mindset, but there were inexplicable things beyond that. We were friends & more than friends for some time, then there was a real breach; we were back in touch again after 20 years for a short time last summer, then there was another breach-- although nothing inappropriate happened, I realized I just couldn't, as a married man, stay in touch with her. I think about that relationship a lot, & still try to find a way to heal some feelings both 20+ years ago & also fairly recent.

Sorry to go on so long-- I guess I don't know any answers myself....

Reya Mellicker said...

NOTE TO RONDA (in case she reads these comments): I've been trying to comment on your blog, but since you added the music widget, I'm never allowed to even get to the comments section because the music continues loading the whole time I'm on your site. I have an old computer. Wanted you to know why I haven't commented.

Reya Mellicker said...

Actually John, your story is great - just the kind of story I'm looking for.

Coffee Messiah said...

L and I met through the "mail-art"world on an anti child abuse call by a lady in Georgia. You made X amount of art (collage, rubber stamps etc) and sent them to her. She would combine them and they all had an address on them.

You send "things" through the mail, and you may or may not hear from the person you send to. Most always you did though.

We met like this in '94 and sent things off and on for a few years.

In '96 we started email ing and a year later, phone calls.

L invited me to visit and before I did, I packed up 5 boxes of stuff and ups'd them. A month later I went home to fetch my son, and that was that.

Never knew or had a relationship like this, ever. If this were to fail, I'd not be happy, but I wouldn't look either.

When my grandfather died, my grandmother would tell me so many stories, and never wanted to even go on a date with another man. She outlived my grandfather by almost 20 yrs. I didn't understand then, but do now.

I think I have their DNA ; )

The Bug said...

My husband & I met at school (we were in our late 20s). We were just friends - I even told some other friends that he was the last person I'd ever date. Then we were at a friends house, cleaning up the dishes after dinner. He cut his finger on something & that just opened a floodgate of feelings in me - we started kissing & were both stunned by the whole situation. Took a while for us (& our friends) to comprehend the situation. We've been married 18 years now.

Squirrel said...

Love at first sight here, with my husband. Instant powerful attraction, and every time he walks into the room, wow--it's still there. We're both really glad we have it, glad it's still powerful, but can't really explain it. It's been a mystery for decades and will probably remain a mystery... We don't try to figure it out or work on it or nurture it to death, we just go with the flow and enjoy it.

Bee said...

Meri's poem about the kiss also touched on that whirlwind known as romantic love. I have experienced it a couple of times -- but one time so intensely that I really felt like I completely merged into the other person. Of course the danger was that I lost myself. It was very chemical/hormonal in nature . . . I just had this heightened responsiveness -- not only to the person, but also to nature and beauty. On the other hand, the heady feelings really did swamp the more rational part of my brain -- and that was scary and destructive, too. There was a time where I would have done/given up almost anything for this person. It was a strange thing: I've never felt so alive, so blissed out, yet I don't know that I would want to feel that way again.

I just saw Carouselin London . . . and the relationship between Julie and Billy is exactly this sort of "love at first sight" kind of love -- but an extremely inarticulate, destructive version of it. It portrays a very dark, unhealthy relationship really; so why do we mythologize this kind of experience?

Tessa said...

Fascinating post, Reya. I've sometimes asked myself the same question, especially now my daughters are now old enough to do their own falling in love. (‘Falling’ is the operative word here – sometimes it hurts, right?)

I met Guy under a Land Rover. It was his big hiking boots I saw first and when the rest of him emerged, I was struck by how brown and ruggedy he looked, and the red spotted bandana he wore round his neck and the sinewy muscle of his chest and arms. I liked his black unruly hair and those green eyes that looked so directly into mine. When he spoke, I laughed because he sound so ….so frightfully English and that wasn’t what I'd expected at all.

We’ve been married for twenty something years now and I still think he’s ‘way cool’ as the girls would say!

Butternut Squash said...

I was in love with falling in love for a while, that rush that you get when you first fall in love. And there were marriage proposals, and tears and break-ups. When I met my husband, I was dating someone else. I broke his heart, my husbands, that is. But we remained friends. Many years later I came back (from Japan) just to visit my friend. He was as faithful to me as ever. And then, there was a clarity, like a bell ringing. And that was it, I was head over heels. We have been married for 15 years and are as tight as glue. I have no interest in riding the roller coaster ever again. Sorry I'm gushing. *Sounds like When Harry met Sally in here. One of the stories that I am planning to write is on my 'arranged marriage.'

The Family Julz said...

At 33 I can say thus far I've honestly been in love once. 7 years ago I would have said 3, maybe 4 times I'd felt true romantic love.

Opposite the other "loves", I didn't find my husband attractive when I met him. Physically, yes, he was, but something didn't click right away; it was his sharp wit and charm which eventually intrigued me like never before.

I'm not sure if it was Cupid, or the seed he planted in me, but when we married at 4 months pregnant, something made me realize a new kind of selfless, lasting love I'd never experienced.

From some moment I can't put my finger on, I knew I was with whom I was supposed to be with. It is that cliché completeness, as if it were divinely arranged.

I thank my stars (part of the divine mechanics!) and I pray for everyone to find this peace of true, unconditional love.

ActionWolfe said...

Omg... can't agree more... writing a monologue at the moment that starts with:
"People say that some of us are unlucky in love. I say fuck them. We are all unlucky in love."

Lol. You have yourself a new follower... ahaha.

Mrsupole said...

Hi Reya,
I am not sure why, but I can still to this day remember the moment I met my husband. I just knew he was my destiny, good or bad he was it. We have been together 35 years and have had ups and downs, but we both remember the "moment" we met and just knew. It is like yin and yang, the connection is just there.

I would say stop looking and it will just happen. I was with someone else at the time and so was he but we both just knew. We cannot imagine life without each other and almost know no life without each other. When we kiss we still get that feeling and so life is good. So just let it come to you in a most unexpected place and you will be so happy. I just hear a lot of people say that it just happened and they were not expecting it or looking for it, but they just knew. I think that you should also read my post from around Valentine's Day, it will tell you a lot of how relationships work and what is the most important thing to make them continue to work. I was doing the Politics of Love.

Great post again and pictures.
God Bless.

Rose said...

The say the eyes are the windows of the soul. Maybe that's why when I met F's eyes across a crowded room there was something... To be honest it scared me and I spent the night avoiding him but eventually gave into the inevitable. When you can have a three hour conversation with a virtual stranger and spend so much time laughing I guess it starts to hit home...

I can finally understand why my gran never met anyone after being widowed when my Dad was only 16. It would take a helluva relationship to match up to what I have now...

I have also had the lusty destructive relationships and the romanticy relationships but nothing hit me in that first split second like F did.

Val said...

its an age old question...is it the soul mate thing? is it a combination of everything and all in the timing?
great to read all the stories too...Thanks Reya x

k-brow said...

I love this theory of confluence; of all the conditions suddenly being ones that contribute to any particular condition. I attribute confluence theory to many things in my life.

I met P my first day in-country as a Peace Corps volunteer, gave him no thought, until a few months later, saw him standing knee-deep in the ocean, flying a kite. I was smitten with love at that moment, though it took us a long time to get together as a couple, due to our life paths being all over the place - geographically, if not soulfully.

Meri Arnett-Kremian said...

And when you've had that love, that bolt of lightning that jolts you out of an ordinary life and into a whirlwind, when it ends do you get another go-round with someone else?

analogman said...

Maybe it's magic
from the moment that it starts
When the look in her eyes
wrapped its spell around my heart
All I know is
it feels just the way it should
'cause she makes it feel so good

Moonroot said...

Great post and I've also loved reading all the comments. FWIW I've known both the bolt-from-the-blue-love-at-first-sight kind and the slow growing kind. And I'm still as baffled as you...

:-)

Reya Mellicker said...

These stories are fabulous.

Bug? WOW!!

So many wows here.

Based on the unscientific arrangement of comments, I'm leaning heavily towards the Cupid's arrow theory. It almost seems random in a way, doesn't it?

Heartwarming to hear so many stories of love that stuck around.

Doing this painting I'm realizing I've been very lucky in love, just not so lucky with the sticking around part.

So much to think about now, so much to paint about. All these comments might end up glued to the canvas...hmmmm....

So many thanks to all!

Lover of Life said...

Maybe we are drawn to those people we need to help us grow in this life, and sometimes it is only for a little while. (?) I've been married for almost 29 years. I think our love changed over time. What it was when we met is not what it is now.

Delwyn said...

I think that there are as many types of love as there are images of cupid and what the initiating spark may rely on is our needs. We are looking to feel complete and rightly or wrongly we see those things in the other half. Then the real work of love starts.

willow said...

I can't wait for "According to the Cosmology of Reya" to be published! It's a great sounding film title, too!! :^)

Wildeve said...

Reya, there's not a day that goes by that you don't get me thinking very deep and mysterious thoughts....thank you for that, and congratulations on your guest spot! Your essay was remarkable.

In the last days of my marriage, I was wandering around at work, (in a Rose Garden, somehow appropriate) mooning and sighing, when my dear friend Amanda said, "Ahhh...You are ripe for love." I was a little stunned by her comment, but she was right, and within a month I was in love.
So your theory of confluence is right on, in my opinion.

Conditions were right. But that is just the first part of the equation. The first time I met J, I was so nervous I couldn't even look at him. We eventually went out for coffee- and it was like I could see into his soul. I was absolutely terrified. But it was like I didn't have a choice. I physically ached for him. Not lust, much bigger than that. I have no interest in anyone else. We have been living apart for a few months due to an emergency in his family, and I still feel the same way. (and I'm a very independent person by nature...)

Reya Mellicker said...

Wildeve? That is exactly what I want. Wow.

Auntie, aka cagny said...

It's late now, and I am back to see all the comments you've collected in your net.
Wow, so many folks who are sooo in love.
Maybe I'm not that lucky with romantic love...
But I know I do really love my boyfriend's grandson.
He will be 4 years old in June. He is so precious to me.
And oh yes, Coco Channel too.
:D

Greg said...

Actually, I have a poem that touches on this. I'll have retrieve it and send it along. But my short answer is: It's a mystery!

Reya Mellicker said...

Greg that is the long and the short answer! I'm trying to finish my painting and write the chapter for my book, though. I need filler!

JOY said...

I met my first love at 14, came home that night and said aloud to myself, I'm going to marry him. Well, it was an up and down relationship, me mostly always waiting for him. Then after high school when he was in college, we finally came together for a season and then had an impasse when he wanted to elope. I wasn't ready to do that. Our timing didn't match up. We broke up and he got married 3 months later. It broke my heart. I had dreams about him for years and years and years. It's like he lodged in my subconscious! When he saw my parents a few years ago, he said he could never forget me. I married someone else, got divorced, loved another, found the man who makes me a better person and married him. Love is illusive and renewing and changing. I still wonder about that first love . . . but it's the past and I'm happy where I am now.

Even with all that, it is confusing and there is no right answer!

Evening Light Writer said...

I adored your thoughts on love. I sometimes find myself falling in love with something or someone often.

I keep thinking of a scene in the movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. The main character is watching a woman and he thinks to himself "Why do I fall in love with every woman I see who shows me the least bit of attention? "

I love that movie and it just comes to show that when you are meant to love someone, it will happen no matter what you do.

ArtSparker said...

I like the stairway to Heaven reflection...stairways to Heaven can be deceptive though.

Ronda Laveen said...

Oh, Reya, bless you. Your note was so thoughtful. I never once thought about a widget causing a problem. I have heard from some of my friends that they are having the same problem and I will remove the widget.

On the love issue, I tend to agree with Lover of Life in that you are in relationships with people for the length of time that it is necessary. They end and begin because it is time. The music of that dance is simply over. It is sad and grievious but it is best to mourn it and then let it go.

I believe we read or understand energy more than we realize. It seems to me, that our internal sonar recognizes a harmonious and like vibration in others and we are attracted. Over time, the frequencies may change and that signal is no longer in sync and we part or are distanced.

Or not. Maybe some guys just look hot in tight jeans and pocket T's.

Ronda Laveen said...

I just read your yesterday post. I am getting caught up as I attended a Diksha workshop this weekend. Congratulations on your Smithsonian presentation. Both photo and article were very well done. My father was also a photographer but I didn't inherit his talent. However, I do admire great photographers work!

Pam said...

He fascinated me. I couldn't keep my eyes off him. People at university watched me watching him.33 years later we are still together. We found out about ten years into our marriage, while doing family tree research, that our great-grandparents lived next door to each other. Nobody knew that. The two families, we found after delving deeper, were very close friends, the boys from both families(which included my husband's grandfather) going off to the the first world war at around 19 years old, as Light Horsemen to fight in France.Call me silly or fanciful, but I like to think there was a bit of match-making going on in the ethereal realms!

Janelle said...

it's a recognition. its laughing. its mind. all the rest follows. its a rare thing. and it changes. its addictive. its Lovely Lovely Lovely. it makes you feel so alive. it makes you glow. xxx j

tam said...

In the Cosmology of Tam, mysteries have a way of playing tricks on you if you try to know them too much...
But, I do know that the love I have is one that has ripened in a way I never expected. When we met, it wasn't like the lightning bolt or the arrow, but I knew in a calm unquestioning way that I had a deep contract with this person. A few weeks into our relationship I was suprised to hear myself saying to someone that this was the person I would spend the rest of my life with. Suprised and a bit cross, because it didn't match to a teenage 'romantic' ideal I had. I have since realised that its a much deeper, teaching healing kind of connection than my teenage dream.
Wonderful questions as ever, Reya.

Steve said...

I am no expert on this topic, believe me. :)

A Cuban In London said...

'I hear stories all the time of people who have known each other awhile, maybe they worked together or whatever and were just friends. But then suddenly something happens and then they are in love, just like that. How do you explain that way of falling in love? Does anyone out there have an answer?'

I'll attempt to answer your question. I think it stems from developing a sense of intimacy with the other person over a period of time. You already have the friendship but have not slept together so when you arrive at the sexual act you feel more relaxed without the hang-ups of a one-night stand where performance (at least for the male of the species) is almost a duty.

Good post. Many thanks.

Greetings from London.

Reya Mellicker said...

Steve you made me laugh and Tam I love the concept of a "deep contract" and Pam you are NOT fanciful.

This morning I'm thinking about love as one version of Fate.

Not trying to unwind the mystery, just develop some verbiage. You know.

rothko said...

I agree that love comes from the Devil. All I can say is whoever said that must be really smart. And beautiful.

Part of the reason Old Scratch gives us romantic love, is because he likes to take it away. Which is part of what makes romantic love so freakin' good--the fact that it's ephemeral. If it were there forever, it wouldn't be the same thing. You could still call it love, it's just not the same kind of love.

I know people will disagree with me on this. I know there are people who claim they have romantic love now, and that it has lasted, and that it will go on lasting forever. But those people are either lying, or they just aren't speaking about the same thing I am. I think there's generally a misconception in our culture that when it goes away, it means something's wrong. That we're supposed to feel this gushy thing forever. But come on, romantic love is supposed to evolve into other things. If it stays romantic love forever, it's just not natural.

Btw, CS Lewis is really good on this stuff. Have you read "The Four Loves?" Greatness. One of my favorite quotes from that is: "When natural things look most divine, the demonic is just around the corner." That's in the chapter titled "Eros," (romantic love). I need to go back and read this. Maybe I'll slip it next in line in my reading list.

(PS: Sorry to be so long-winded on your blog.)

Hammer said...

Gawd...

Rothko is such a new age crystal-waving hippie...

(Sorry - inside joke.)

And have you considered that whoever said that line about the Devil line may in fact be the Devil themself?

You know, I ain't gonna be around forever to point these things out to y'all...

karen said...

fascinating topic, and comments... I believe the 'bolt from the blue'can really happen... and, it doesn't seem to respect any boundaries at all, suddenly there's this connection which just leaves you wondering not only "why??", but "why now??". Mysterious and confusing. I think Lover of Life has a good point..

blonderthanyou said...

in the words of the great cowboy philosopher... billy joe shaver...
"the devil made me do it the first time...the second time i done it on my own"
xoxo

Reya Mellicker said...

Rothko? You just go on and on if you please, OK? Thank you.

And both of ya'll - you and Hammer? You know who said that about the Devil, right? She is beautiful and smart and ... well ... enchanting. But she's no devil, no way!

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Squirrel said...

Steve cracked me up because he is SO lovable!

Lori Witzel said...

Came for the post, stayed for the comments...

:-)

Met my husband through his personal ad -- he used words like "honest" and "loyal," which seemed the opposite of a lot of what I'd been through romantically.

For him, it was love at first phone chat. For me, as skittish and burned as I was, it took a lot longer.

I'd been speared by those arrows in the past, and gave blood (metaphorically) as a result...and my crushes were almost always on someone Not Good For Me.

And now, over the course of more than 10 years, I can tell you I feel myself light up when my darlin' husband walks into the room.

There's something different about this -- no massive drama, no overload -- and it's great to not be bleeding from Cupid's arrow, but to simply be tethered by the music of his bowstring.