It is a grey, thundery day. I've just returned from my morning doggy walk. We were miles from the car, collecting blackberries when we got caught in the most relentless downpour.
I'm home now with aching limbs and time-of-the-month cramp. I feel like nesting under my cashmere blanket, binge-drinking Yorkshire tea and trying to find the right words to capture some recent thoughts. I've been thinking a lot about love. I suppose hearing from Rochester has prompted this, as I did love him very much (which he claimed to find 'curious'). So, here are my rag-tag and nonsensical thoughts, my attempt to articulate that most ethereal emotion.
I have a view, that when you meet someone, you understand instantly whether there is the potential to fall in love. Its a strange, physical and mystical connection and incredibly rare. I don't understand it. It has nothing to do with simple physical attraction, you can find someone gorgeous, yet somehow they just don't touch you. You can meet someone you have absolutely nothing in common with, yet you find your heart absolutely longing for them.
It is terrifying, dizzying, because in admitting that spark or connection is real for you, you must face the fact that it may not exist for the other person. I don't think there is anything scarier that falling in love. It turns you inside out. All your blood, guts, insecurities, are made public. I find it is impossible to lie when I'm in love. I become as translucent as a ghost. The love I feel just shines through me. And, as if hypnotised by some camp, dove-wielding magician, I also strangely compelled to talk, to confess, guilelessly every feeling. I know there are books and strategies about how to capture someone's heart. It always amazes me that they all seem to be centred on deception, on denying feelings and playing games. I just can't do that, I'm afraid. It's a language I just can't speak. I think I'm emotionally autistic. The nuances and language of relationships are wasted on me. There is a whole etiquette that I just don't get.
Having said that, on the very rare occasions I have fallen in love, I'm not one of those people who instantly starts planning a rose-coloured future together. I never think about the future. I never plan anything. I very much live in the moment. The future can be snatched away from you so cruelly, so quickly. I think losing my mum when I was 7 taught me that. It always astounds me when people spend years planning a wedding. All that time, thinking about the banalities of dresses, cakes, flowers, photographs. All that time thinking about the future, and ignoring the beauty of the day to day, the shared cups of tea, or dozy lie-ins or walks in the park. I think marriage is a sacred and beautiful thing, and if that's what you want then just do it, don't delay, tomorrow may never come. It reminds me of Aunty Daisy and her delicate, periwinkle, bone-china tea service. A treasured wedding present she kept for 'best'. It was left entombed for 30 years in a mahogany sideboard and never used or enjoyed, not even once.
The physical side-effects of love are often frightening. At times, during the whole Rochester-thing, he would withdraw into himself. He had domestic problems, and lived 300 miles away. That was hard, during those silences I would get myself terribly stressed and anxious. I would shake, my whole body would tremble. I would text him:
'are you OK? I'm worried. I'm shaking.'
To which, frequently his breezy and nonchalant response would be
'No need to shake. I was just in the pub, petal.'
He thought me bonkers. My feelings manifest themselves physically. I couldn't walk with him without touching him somehow, holding his hand, leaning into his shoulder. A look from him, or a touch would simply move me somehow.
So, Madam Noir has often asked me, during our many relationship discussions, 'What does it mean to be in love?' So, here is my list. For me, loving someone means they are. . .
- The person who sees me clearest, the person who 'gets' me.
- The person I just can't lie or pretend to.
- The person who makes me smile the most.
- The person I can't stop touching.
- The person I'd give everything up for.
- The person who listens closest to me.
- The person who can always look me straight in the eye.
- The person who I would want to spend the rest of my life with
- The person who turns me on the most, and can do that with just a look.
- The person who does the little things for me: running baths, making tea, stroking my hair, fixing the toaster. And the person who I want to do those things for (although I can't fix toasters).
- The person who helps me 'keep passing the open windows' and makes it all seem tolerable. Who can transform the world from a dark, terrifying and cruel place to a place of tenderness, light and endless possibilities.
So, this is the question. Which is better: to find someone you feel all these things for, who you can lose yourself in and who turns your world upside down. But, like a curse in a bittersweet fairy tale, you know that once you've found that person, you know to lose them would break your heart. Or, do you look for something less scary, something companionable, something safer. If you don't feel the passion, then you also won't feel the pain.
I just don't know.