The Frequency of Love

Do I fall in love too easily?  Foolishly?  Frequently?  It’s a funny think to think about.  How often do you want fall in love?

Falling in love is emotionally immersive.  Careening toward another human being, drawn down into their gravity well, and like diving into a black hole, you never quite reach the center.  There’s always a little bit of distance left to bridge.

Fall in love too rarely, and it might mean you’re alone.  Yearning.  Isolated.  Or it might mean you’re in love.  Attached.  Satisfied.  If you’re falling in love frequently, you might be skipping from one partner to another.  Always falling, always missing.  Addicted to the plunge?  Deceiving yourself about the connection and running away when it fizzles? Or in our strange little micro-society, it might mean the tendrils of your love are many and branching. Mercurial love, as a non-rivalrous (public?) good.

When it’s rare, it feels precious, and something about that feels good.  But the spaces in between are lonely.  I put my loves in bins, retrospectively.  Was it real?  Or a delusion?  Why is it so hard to tell at the time?  Or does it depend on how it ends?  Mostly I think it correlates with the dreams I had while in the thick of it.  The involuntary visions of a future together.  Expectation.  Mother of disappointment?

In hindsight, I had three loves in the first decade of this century.  Two thirds of them reciprocated.  Is that too many?  Or too few?  Seven years were dedicated to just one of them — they were rare by virtue of stability.  Two loves in the other three years.  One love every 18 months?  If I were finding one new person that I felt deeply connected to every year and a half, and if they were accumulating around me in a pile, then that would feel opulent.  It only takes a few other people for me to feel awash in a sea of emotional interconnectedness.  Maybe I’m sensitive that way.

But by and large, they don’t seem to accumulate.  Partly it’s the serial nature of our connections.  The broader societal norm is that you connect to one person at a time, in sequence.  And not just in the sense of monogamy — there’s a more pervasive kind of seriality, in that most of us in America don’t spend most of our time embedded in a densely connected social network.  For the most part, we seem to have fairly disconnected social domains — work, school, family, friends — sorted by context and activity.  Even within each of those, we often find the hub-and-spoke topology.  Each person as the center of their own social universe, and able to cut loose a connection gone bad with modest impacts on the overall structure.

So I’m thankful to be immersed in Boulder’s cooperative scene — dozens of people with a mass of connections between them.  It’s something like what I’m looking for.  I work and live and play with many of the same people.  But it still has a feeling of transience.  Ephemeral. Changing.  People come and go, even if the network has some durability.  Not everybody comes and goes of course — there are some people who have decided to make this place their home.  We need a way to make that community concrete.  To put down roots.  We want to make and own a home together.  A base of operations.  A hearth and table.  An all star team?  A family of friends.  We need to change a law to do it.  Because community like this is illegal in America.  In Boulder.

Our microsociety is strewn with once and future lovers.  When you come into a scene like this, you don’t just meet people, you meet the relationships between people.  You get to know their history.  Their shared passions and ongoing conflicts.  The intimate mess that is humanity.  It’s hard to hide things here.  Secrets are leaky.

If I’m going to fall in love frequently, I don’t want to lose those loves.  Maybe falling can also be way to get close for other ends.


Dirt Season at the Hawthorn Garden

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