The notion of love


The notion of love,
it has gotten complicated and I am not too sure what to make of that. Had I been wrong the entire time?

It is hard, to write this. Somewhat confusing. I fear of going even more astray. I do know what verb tense to use, because deciding one would inevitably mean I have arrived to a conclusion while nothing could be further from the truth. So I apologise in advance if what I write does not make sense, my dear, but I just have to go from present to past and maybe even further into the past.

I was fourteen when I fell in love for the first time.
I knew it was not real love.

But something had happened when I saw him. I start to write stories, love stories. Not about him, although fan fiction was conquering the hearts of all online friends I had. Rather I wrote original fiction, about the love that all the people in the world, or so I thought, were after for because that was the sole purpose of your entire existence. To find someone who completes you, makes you what you are supposed to be because without that one person you are nothing more than a mere being stripped naked of meaning.

My love stories were sad. Star-crossed lovers acted as the protagonists in words that still are under my copyright. I do not think I wrote a single tale where the two lived happily ever after. Maybe because I knew there was not space for that in life I had.

Nevertheless I dreamed. It hurt, ached. I collected love quotes, wrote them in sticky notes and left them in different modes of public transportation in Helsinki. I watched romantic comedies, and tended to shed a tear or two in the end because the realisation of knowing it would never happen to me was too much to bear. I read,
& listened & saw & created.
And it all anguished, tormented.

What happened,
I reckon,
was that I had fallen in love with the most popular notion of love of humankind. Or so I think now, because before writing this I would had just said I had fallen in love with the notion of love and a full stop. Ever since that, however you please to phrase the experience I had, I have wanted to fall in love with a man who would fall in love with me. It is a desire that some have christened as finding The One.

Several years later it happened. I was nineteen when I fell in love with a man, someone who was not from a television show.
And I knew it was the real thing.
Not right away. And not anymore.

Our love story,
I have tried to explain countless times and I never gets it perfect. I do not wish to waste too much of the time to tell once again what made it so special;
how all the fantasies of love I had kept locked in the back of my head were all released that very moment I saw him;
when someone who stopped jogging when she saw us holding each other by the river Seine and came to us to tell how our love had made her entire day;
that time when I cried and cried and cried after saying goodbye to him and two different persons unrelated to each other came to me, offered me comfort and bought two small bottles of wine to calm nerves, promising it all will be good;
the decision I made to drop out of the college and move across continents to live with him after I had known him just for less than a year and out of that just two had we spent together physically. It all makes no difference, because all that matters is that he is the One.

I no longer collected watched read listened saw created.
I experienced.

He left me three years ago, for reasons I have accounted someplace else and irrelevant for purpose of this writing.But in spite of what has happened between us I am incapable of use a past tense in the last sentence of the previous paragraph.

I cannot.
Or maybe I just do not want to.
I am not too sure.

The notion of love, at least mine, is under threat. Whereas it should render me solace, it hurts. Perhaps more than before when I penned those tales of star-crossed lovers who lived the rest of their lives without each other, but never stopping each other. The notion of love I have, a slightly adjusted version of the most popular one, does not necessarily entail of being together for the rest of your lives. Sometimes you meet the love of your life at the worst possible timing, and all you are left with is saudade: a unsounded longing for someone you love, but are no longer with.

A few months our relationship ended I encountered a supposedly Russian word that denoted a sentimental feeling one has about someone you once loved but no longer do. Razbliuto, I mouthed, tasted and swallowed. I thought possibly if I tried it all different ways, it would make more sense. It did not. Because there was no such thing as falling out of love with someone.

Throughout the past three years I have been confronted from all angles: friends I had while I had been with him, friends I have made after he left me, friends I gained through him. Family, as well, but most of my relatives do not know and ones that are aware rather not think of who I love. Over and over again I have affirmed the love I have for him. And over and over again my friends have told me that I will fall in love with another man who gives you everything between the sun and the moon.

There are a few issues here, but before that let me face the skeletons I have kept in the closet for too long. I have always known that love is controlled, precisely because I have been there where I have kept my skeletons. But I do not think I have been just a victim of the control. Rather I have contributed to the dominant perception of love, particularly in the Occidental that in the recent years has seen a strong support for a bond between two people of any gender. We might no longer care for who loves who, but we still think one can love just love.

I admit, it is difficult for me to understand how it is possible for one person to be in love with multiple people simultaneously. From what I have understood it is the fault of the society where I have been brought up, because all the love stories I have read are about two people, all the romantic comedies I have watched are about two people, all the love songs I hear are about two people, all two people and that is all.

I have been a passionate marriage equality activist, precisely because the love affair I have with the notion of love closest to my heart. There is no denial to the fact that I do not contemplate if there had been same-sex marriage in Finland at the time when I needed it the most, I would be married to the man I still love. He had proposed me and during our visit in Finland, he even suggested that we should go and attain the registered partnership offered us. However, besides being blinded with the idea of having the wedding of all time, I did not want to concede to label our love second-class to those who were in heterosexual partnerships.

But there has been a mounting criticism from a large segment of feminist and queer activists who feel that the right for marriage equality undermines everything we strive to accomplish. For them proponents of marriage equality seek to further strengthen the prevailing norms of love while vigorously rejecting all other forms of love, most notably banishment of polyamory. In the most radical opinions people like me, by advocating the rights of same-sex couples to marriage while simultaneously excluding the very same right from people who may have love to share with more than just one, are no better than John Smith who wants to retain the traditional notion of marriage, family and love.

Anarchist love, that is what critics of mine call free, unchained and unconstrained love, seeks to undermine, abolish and dissect the hegemonic concept of love, the dominant discourse that persists to limit our freedom to love freely. Anarchist love endeavours to be free in multiple senses; she attempts to free of constrains of history and culture; he rejects an ideal standard of love what is considered be the correct of loving; they seek to liberate themselves from the regulations that authorities such as the state and the religion impose on them; it wishes to cure the capitalist cancer that has spread throughout the body of love.

Anarchist lovers fear that the proponents of same-sex marriage and the mainstream LGBT-organisations strive to assimilate themselves and confine within the borders of normativeness. It has echoes of new conservatism where people who do not fit within the narrow definition of love are marginalised, oppressed and discriminated. Advocates of marriage equality want to erase dark rooms and cruising in public places and replace the iconic drawings of Tom of Finland with an ideal nuclear same-sex family who have a house, two children and live their rest of live together without extramarital relationships.

I have no rebuttals to offer except perhaps the same what the opponents of same-sex marriage have shoved down my throat throughout the years; but marriage is between two people, but the children, but love is a bond not extended to third or fourth parties, but what happens next if we do this, but the sanctity
and it makes me worried. Am I really no different?

Admittedly I have been hesitant to expand marriage open to polyamorous lovers, because yes, I have had a very confined vision of what it means. As I said before, I do not understand how one person in love with more than one person at the same time. I could pose questions to anarchist lovers that they face throughout their lives in the interaction with monogamous lovers, because just like heterosexuals sometimes wonder about homosexuals (are you top, how do you know if someone is bottom, have you never wanted to have sex with women) I wonder how their relationship(s) work.

It is irrelevant, though, because I have realised that while being a monogamous gay man of an immigrant background has its own struggles, I have indeed crippled those who are even further far from the normative centre. Unconsciously, unintentionally I have reinforced the ideal of love as something shared between two people for the rest of their lives and forced it upon those who prefer Tom of Finland over an engagement ring. An apology might be not be sufficient, but at least I am aware of what happened and attempt to rectify the situation in future activism of mine. No right should be advanced with a sacrifice of another group.

And I will apologise.
I am sorry.

What I am about to say next might seem like I retract what I just have acknowledged, but by no means it is my objective with the following. Rather I desire to revisit my story and through that reflect anarchist love, which while criticises the way I love(d) the man who left me but simultaneously offers comfort because I can, could and should fall in love with again. But I resist the solace she renders me and relentlessly protect the notion of love that is under the threat. Because I cannot imagine anything better, for myself, than to spend the right of my life with one man who loves me the way I love him, with all the imperfections, including a stern hint of insecurity that accompanies the self I carry.

Anarchist lovers disapprove what I request from love: it must be unconditional, temporally ever-lasting and spatially all over. I cannot live in love that is shared with more than two people and more fundamentally I do not wish to fall in love that is not mine, utterly and completely. I render love a religious undertone, I give into capitalism to shower love with gifts and flowers and whatever I think he may enjoy, I do that and this and I can feel the disappointment penetrating my lungs.

Anarchists are not alone with their sentiments towards me, but my friends share the similar frustrations and perhaps all the cities to whom I have confided about what I feel about love. Everyone wants me to let go of the insane notion of the One that capitalist markets sell you in all various forms, it is nothing more, those romantic comedies are just fiction to trick you, all what I wrote about star-crossed lovers as a teenager were just stories and not a prediction of my future as a man whose hearts still races whenever he thinks of his lost love.

I know they have good intentions and perhaps indeed I have been a victim of the hegemonic love discourse, but what others, including my friends, have failed to understand that the romanticised version of love is the most vital part of who and what I am, it is the thing most sacred to me,
maybe it is the only thing I ever believed in,
ever will believe.

So what I ask is to leave the notion of love I have alone,
stop diminishing its building blocks,
convince me of something better,
call me foolish and stupid.

Not by a long sight I claim that all others should follow my lead and reject their perceptions of love, quite the contrary. Love is the most intimate, personal domain of your agency and no other person or institution or norm is allowed to interfere with it unless it causes bodily harms or stems from a lack of a consent. Otherwise we have the right to mould love in the best possible manner we perceive in our personal capacity and seek person(s) who have embraced similar characteristics and aspects for love. I believe that should be the at the core of anarchist love, for each individual to have the liberty to love as many or as few people we wish, to express our love as we desire, to limit or expand love tailored to our needs, wishes and desires. The power of love and loving resides in us, and we define it all for ourselves. Well, our hearts do it for us. There is nothing as powerful as a heart. Not even a mind.

Most people do not understand me for still loving a man who has not been in my life for past two years and I am not bothered with that, because I might not feel the same about the way they love. But as most of my friends have entered a long-term relationships, I sometimes notice a glance of pity and realise the vulnerable position I have been assigned in the society for being a single. Every time I meet a friend, whom I have not seen in some time and who is happily in love, I am bound to answer a question about the status of my love life. It has been the same since he left me and while it pains a little less as the time flies forward, but the condolences are just stronger. You’re a good guy, you’ll find someone!

No other word than saudade describes how I feel at the moment about him. I remember our memories,
the feeling of skin against mine when he would spoon me in bed,
the pain we caused to each other, the love letters he wrote to me,
the happiness we experienced after we met again for the first in six months, everything we shared throughout our relationship and engagement, that moment under the Eiffel tower, those various occasions when he lost me in UNO, laughs we shared, making fun of each other,
insults, all the fights we kept having.

Now he is gone and I am left with saudade; it is not happiness because he is not with me, but it is not sadness because what I experienced, even if only for a moment, was more than I had ever hoped for in my life. I have the love that remains even after the most turbulent breakup, which was also more utmost than I had ever written in my stories.

I no longer want to be with him. I know he has moved on and last I had heard about him through a mutual friend of ours, he was engaged with a Catalan man. Nevertheless I love him, and would still do all to help and support him if needed. I had promised him that if he ever was an accident and paralysed, I would take care of him. I told him even if he started to forget who I was as we get older, I would be by his side the entire time. And, in my opinion, a beautiful thing is that I still feel exactly the same.

I still believe he is the One, foolishly some may add. But what they do not realise I do not think the One completes a person or moreover even be with you for the rest of your life. Or are these just excuses to masquer the pain?

But possibly I am wrong. Maybe one day I am in a club and meet a man with whom I fall in love with and a few months afterwards I meet a daringly handsome fellow-activist who also snatches my heart and I realise I actually love two people at the same time. In that case I cannot help thinking what if anarchists are right, that the only reason I have committed myself to something so unreal is because of the norms set by the societies, the cultures and the capitalist markets with their products. Have I just absorbed the boundaries and internalised the external manifestation of love, loving and companionship?

However I think even if I fall in love with a man again, it will not discredit my notion of love. In fact I have not ceased dreaming of the man, the house and the two children despite all what has happened. Maybe the one is just waiting in the future, and I had been wrong about my previous relationship but it does not mean, even in my notion, that the love I experienced that period was any less valid just because he was not the one. I have tried one night stands, casual relationships and the freedom that anarchists wish to offer to lovers, but it does not satisfy my mental nor even physical needs. With the new man I would still like what anarchists claim to be norms of imposed upon us: ever-lasting, monogamous and those flowers on Valentine’s day will definitely make me feel all happy and fluffy.

At the moment I am content with love I have, experience and feel and it precisely has put me at the margins of society. While anarchist lovers accuse me of having embodied the very essence of capitalised, normalised and romanticised love, that very force in fact pressures me to move forward, fall in love again and live happily ever after with a new love of my life.

My friends, my new friends, my mentors, strangers that I talk to when I am intoxicated with alcohol, movies I watch, books I read, Valentine’s day, they all push me to find love again. It is not enough that I am open to the idea of falling in love again, but that I have to actively seek for it and stop the nonsense feelings that I still hold towards him. I hear about what a wonderful lad I am, how anyone would be lucky to have me, (those who know) repeat so often the fact that he was already sleeping around two months after leaving me, some pull out “you deserve it”-card and I think we all can imagine the things we would say after someone’s heart gets broken.

I think we should offer comfort, support and consolation to our friends, family members and even strangers who are living through the hardship of shattered love. However humans in Western-culture of modern times are taught to be reluctant, hesitant and reserved to leave people in love that from the point of view of an outsider is gone or very least not worthy of person’s time, energy and thoughts. Even in the most capitalist products broken hearts heal over the time, but the tales of being content despite losing the love of your life to someone else and willingness to live with the situation are rare to come across. Over the time we are expected to move on and find someone else. Otherwise we are doomed to misery.

The self-complacent I feel is unacceptable to most people and relentlessly people have attempted to convince me of what I feel is unrealistic, naive and if they feel particularly straightforward then they just say I am simply stupid. For a long time I attempted to persuade them, explain what I had experienced with him so they would understand me and realise what I had gone through was perhaps one of the greatest (and the most bittersweet) love stories ever happened in the world. But I do not need to validate through other what I feel, even though I thought I did. I realised our understanding and experience of love locates at our most intimate domain of which we have no control over.

While I do not know what future brings with her arrival, perhaps I fall in love as unexpectedly as I did in the winter of France or maybe that love is all I experience in life. Whatever happens I have no authority to tell you how you should love. I ask you to extend the same courtesy to me. I might be foolishly in love with a person who has left me in your opinion, but I am happy with the feelings I have.

And that is all that should matter.


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