Falling In Love
This piece first appeared on The Romance Dish on August 17, 2010.
I fall in love easily, frequently, and oftentimes hard.
Before I continue, allow me a qualification: I define Love broadly. As a graduate student I was trained to mistrust multiple uses of the same word for different purposes. When applied to love, my friends, this is sheer hooey. Love is grand, wide, all encompassing, and generous. It cannot be confined to an individual act of passion, one type of emotion, or even a single ecstatic spiritual experience. Love is lots of things.
Now, back to falling in love.
I have a quick, eager eye for an attractive, strapping chap. This is not love. This is The Biological Imperative. Or perhaps something else. I’m not sure. What I am sure of is that about twenty-five years ago I believed this was love.
I’m not talking about those guys I passed at the ice rink or movie theater any random Friday night. No, this applied to the boy whose locker number I memorized and to whom I never spoke except through my older sister’s boyfriend. It also applied to the boy that sat behind me in math class—first algebra, then geometry, trigonometry, and pre-calculus—to whom I did speak quite frequently but who always dated other girls. It applied to the gorgeous exchange student I ran track with, and the boy with the perfect manners and a thick Georgian accent who moved to town just in time to ask me, the only girl in my class of 300 without a date yet, to our winter dance. And it applied to the basketball star to whom I sent a Homecoming boutonniere of red carnations, not anonymously, because I wanted him to know I adored him even though we’d never met, and he thought it was a joke from his friends.
Why did I think these were love? Because my adolescent heart felt, and it felt fully. It pounded when I anticipated seeing him. It fluttered when he turned the corner. It seized up when he met my gaze. And it ceased functioning when he spoke to me.
I am an addict. I barely drink, rarely gamble, don’t smoke, haven’t touched drugs, and don’t even own an iPhone. All of these temptations pale in comparison to my addiction. I am addicted to the feeling of falling in love. To the emotions of letting my heart go, the achy longing, the sizzling anticipatory high, the nervous energy, the deep, delicious yearning.
Just as in high school, I still fall in love a lot. Not with actual men (except my husband). I fall in love with romance heroes. Give me a great adventure, an ROTFL comedy, a sweet hometown story — any novel with a handsome, smart hero with a heart of gold and the willingness to laugh at himself, and I’m hooked.
But I do not limit this to fictional heroes.
I fall in love with puppies. And dolphins. Actually with just about any sea life. Also, horses. Sometimes caterpillars, and always butterflies. Yesterday I gave my heart to the elephant on YouTube painting a picture of an elephant holding a flower. For this too, I believe, is love. When I encounter these, my heart tightens, my eyes water, and my soul stirs.
I also fall in love with oceanscapes, crowded city streets, spectacular architecture, graceful willow trees, stately oaks, elegant pines, beautiful writing, and tall ships. I fall in love with my seven-year-old son every time he cracks a joke, speaks thoughtfully upon a matter that concerns him, or pretty much breathes.
I am a sucker for falling in love. It fills me up, and I love to be filled up.
In my debut historical romance, Swept Away by a Kiss, the hero and heroine struggle not to fall in love. She is a reformed society jade. He is (pretending to be) a French priest (he’s actually an English viscount, keeping the secret for good reasons). But they know their struggle to stay apart is futile because more than anything, they both want to fall in love. They long for it, they seek it, and they will not rest content until they have fallen, fast and hard. Simply, they need each other.
I think this is the root of the joy of falling in love. The seeking makes it worth everything, the hoping to find, to meet the need, whether that need is a life partner or a brief dalliance, a sunset or a roller coaster ride.