life: examined is an invitation to get curious, a compendium of ideas, thoughts, and questions about living a creative, intentional life.
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I have a confession. I don’t live alone.
I've been cohabitating for several years now—no, not with Milo, although yes, that's true, too. This roommate, of sorts, is unseen by all but me.
No, I'm not seeing things, per se, but I know the extra weight I carry in my heart represents someone I knew, someone that I still know, whose existence is impossible to shake from my being.
And I don't want to rid myself of this hitchhiker.
This lodger who took up residence in my heart.
This lodger left an imprint on me, and I'm okay with that—despite the sadness that overwhelms me when I'm least equipped to handle it. It's not quite like the grief of loss, but that of something that almost was and the knowledge that it will never be.
Does this lodger even know about this? Know about the heart-housing situation—this imperceptible (to others) co-habitation?
Probably not—not now—anyway.
Would the heart-mate who dwells quietly inside me even care that I hold them in such high regard? I don't know. Maybe, but I'm unlikely to ever find out because I'm keeping this secret between you and me.
Although I won't make any declarations of undying love, I have thought about it.
Perhaps on my deathbed, but at that point, I'll probably be thinking of other things (like did I unplug the kettle).
This unrequited love, many years long and greying around the temples, has settled into a position of thereness, a part of the fabric of me, rather than the palpable gnawing of a thing I'll never have (despite that being the truth).
How does one really have a person—a love, anyway?
My perspective on this topic has changed many times over the years. We don't own others, people don't complete us, but they can enhance our lives and make our time on this imperiled planet a little less lonely (and vice-versa). Or other humans can make us miserable. Usually, it's a bit of both in the best circumstances.
Unrequited love is often viewed with cynicism or despair. It induces an intolerable longing in its bearers. Outsiders gaze upon it with pity and fear—lest they catch the same condition.
But unrequited love can be poignant. It's a raw state that the infected party can explore and transform into something useful.
Unrequited love is an opportunity to alchemize painful feelings into enduring strength.
One can withstand most things if one can bear unreciprocated love for another. But don't ask me for the recipe to this magic, as I'm just making it up as I go.
The grip has loosened in this late stage of enduring love I have for another who does not feel the same for me. It's no longer a breathless catch in my throat or the elephant's weight on my chest but a bit of sand that's agitating my heart into a pearl.
I can bear this lost-never-had love. I have been for years.
It's a secret that stays with me and now with you too, dear reader. Just don't ask me to tell you who it is because I can't do that. Revealing the lodger's identity would rob me of the bittersweet emotional landscape I've grown comfortable traversing.
Does this lodger of the heart stop me from having romantic love for one or more live flesh and blood humans? It does not. This vintage love, and a contemporary one, could exist in my world simultaneously—my heart is big enough for both.
Have you had, or do you now have, an unrequited love?
Word of the Day (obviously)
un·re·quit·ed | ˌənrəˈkwīdəd |
(of a feeling, especially love) not returned or rewarded: he's been pining with unrequited love.
Favorite Portuguese to English Auto-Translation of the Week:
About making panettone:
As soon as it comes out of the oven, it rests inside out for several hours so that the dough does not slaughter and remains tall and cuter, as is characteristic.
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Be well, stay curious, and thanks for reading life: examined