I noticed that the weeks leading up to our leaving for a month in Spain brought a rain of abundance in terms of work projects – YAY and HEY. With the surfeit of financial blessings also came friends and outings, all conspiring to make my goal of losing weight before the beach a fantasy gone awry.
And at the 11th hour, the obstacle came out of nowhere – the four-ton air conditioning unit – on the 15-foot platform attached to my house to prevent theft and flood damage – began to fall off the house bringing with it the exterior siding. Really?
But also at the penultimate hour, Dr. Bob came through with a sign for over my front door that I had asked him about a year ago – BE LOVE OR LEAVE – in memory of the BE NICE OR LEAVE sign that I had left over the threshold of the LaLa. The theme of LOVE is much more fitting for the Spirit House.
And so it was that love produced itself in abundance as well – my realtor Tommy Crane came through with the great white knight of HVAC land (Richard) while simultaneously a friend in Boston (Susie) recommended Alain de Botton’s Essays in Love. How these two became complicit in my awareness that my life was changing will be explained.
Andrew at Tommy’s office has continued to support my house long after he helped me buy it – perhaps it is because of my friendship with Tommy, but I think it is also who they are as people. They believe that 18 months after buying a completely renovated house means that the A/C unit should not fall off the back of it.
And the Essays in Love – well, I began reading this wonderful contemplation of modern love on the plane to Spain. In Chapter 6, entitled Marxism, Botton says:
When we look at someone (an angel) from a position of unrequited love and imagine the pleasures that being in heaven with them might bring us, we are prone to overlook a significant danger: how soon their attractions might pale if they began to love us back. We fall in love because we long to escape from ourselves with someone as ideal as we are corrupt. But what if such a being were one day to turn around and love us back? We can only be shocked. How could they be divine as we had hoped when they have the bad taste to approve of someone like us? If in order to love, we must believe that the beloved surpasses us in some way, does not a cruel paradox emerge when we witness this love returned?
Botton unlocked a key for me to decode many a relationship from my past – my first love whose wandering eye and penis made sure that his love for me was always compromised, one husband whose secret life was impenetrable, another husband who always saw me as his inferior in intelligence as much as social breeding, and of course the partnership built on a house of cards. Yes, I could see clearly now, it wasn’t them – IT WAS ME.
Botton’s piercing statement: “At the end of a relationship, it is the one who is not in love who makes the tender speeches” is enough for me to not digress into how and when or how many times I had found love at first sight only to imbue each lover with desire and profound love and let’s not forget – expectations – to the point that each dynamic vacillated from a smothering love to an indifferent one. My friend Tommy likes to say there is nothing deader than dead love.
Though I am embarking on a new love – a different sort of love to call into being. I have needed to fall in love with me – and so while the white knight of HVAC-land screwed in the Dr. Bob sign, I said to myself something the mother of a lover had told him a while ago when he, I and others got caught up in a horrible quadrangle of romantic disenchantment, “Oh, honey, you’re simply [Rachel] – love you.”
This all fast-forwarded to my sitting in a restaurant looking out at the plaza in Madrid where I began to realize an old familiar feeling made new in that moment – impending joy. This had come to me many times in the past, particularly times in San Francisco, but back then it was a giddy joy that I anticipated – and now it is gilded joy that I feel bursting from my heart – impending joy – brought on by my newfound love. I love you, Rachel! I love you, Spain. I love you, Tin.