Friday, February 10, 2012


Imagine believing that you were immune to a crippling disease only to have the ailment blindside you with a vengeance.

Love is a complex organism. I say "organism" for a specific reason. Even though love is an emotion, and as such is merely a cascade of hormonal responses to physical and psychological stimuli, it is far from being a simple biological process. It takes many forms. It has many facets, many dimensions. It grows, blooms, develops, quietly coalesces; booms, explodes, resounds, vibrates; inspires, infects, invigorates, impels; deepens, widens, broadens, brightens; extrudes, inflates, surrounds, pervades; conquers, commands, embroils, enslaves; leaps, flies, whirls, floats, splashes; sings, roars, screams, mumbles, gibbers; and does a great many more things which writers, musicians and poets have not yet found the words to encapsulate.

Love is at once a disease, an enigma, a paradox, a riddle, a torrent, a disorder, a storm, and a living, breathing creature, constantly shifting and changing.

I only realized this fact when I left my beloved Miss H behind to come to Korea. The revelation of it has nearly struck me dumb with shock. The constant sorrow and fear I feel at being separated from her is paralyzing, numbing, all-consuming.

I never knew love could be like this. Before I fell into it, I thought love was like water. Either you were in it or you were out of it, getting wet or drying off. But now I feel more like love is the vast, spinning Universe itself: nigh-incomprehensible, ever-changing, broad, dynamic, constantly morphing, governed by laws beyond the understanding of humankind. To be involved in it—truly involved, not mildly interested or childishly infatuated—is a mind-blasting, life-changing, paradigm-shifting, eye-opening experience. I feel as though I've been wandering around in the dark my entire life, only to suddenly be told that I'm wearing too big a hat. Upon doffing it, my eyes behold for the first time the vastness of the world, its vividness, its wonder, its beauty, its charm, and its staggering diversity, and my brain is simply knocked for a loop.

I have her to thank for telling me my hat was too big. Miss H, I mean. I wish there were words in the English language—or Korean, or any tongue known or unknown—to describe precisely how wonderful she is, how she makes me feel, her charm and grace and demureness, her every intoxicating movement. The fall of her hair, the glow of her skin, the light in her eyes, the sweet music on her lips. It's utterly indescribable. But then again, perhaps that's a good thing. Perhaps the very act of describing such beauty would thereby ruin it, just as the most heavenly work of art may be crudely interpreted, and the funniest joke diluted with needless explanation.

So when I tell you that I am missing my beloved like crazy, I want you to understand my full meaning.

It is only this sudden separation which has given form to my mental state. It was only after we had parted that I realized just how much I love her. And with that realization came soul-crushing agony, a bitter and sorrowful loneliness, a longing that spans oceans and continents, as every inch of every foot of the 5,500 miles which separate us pierced my heart to its core.

For three days, I have been an absolute wreck inside. Granted, some of it was garden-variety homesickness, and some of it was new-job nerves, and some of it was living-out-of-a-suitcase frustration. But the balance of my anguish was the affection I have for my girlfriend, and the tyrannical yearning to see her angelic face again, in the flesh, even only for a moment.

Honestly, I don't know how I've survived. At home, we would regularly go five days without seeing each other; here, with the Pacific Ocean dividing us, I was ready to break down after 48 hours.  

Pitiful, I know, but true.

I'm feeling better. I've isolated the grief, broken the emotional circuits, cordoned off the crime scene from the rest of my soul's prying eyes. I still feel her absence acutely, and wonder every day whether it'd be feasible to jump on a plane and fly twelve hours back to see her, but I've come to terms with those feelings and have established a modicum of control over them. Having taught a few classes has certainly helped. Goodness knows it was difficult trying to contend with heartsickness, homesickness and jangling nerves all at once. Now that I've taught a bit, the uncertainty is gone. I feel better about teaching again. I've remembered that I can do it if I just stay on top of things. This weekend I'm moving into my apartment, too, and will commence making as much of a home out of it as can reasonably be expected. All that remains, in fact, is the crippling lack of the queen of my dreams.

We've discussed various options. She might fly out to see me in summertime. She might get a teaching job near me and come live in my apartment. Or we might try to tough it out for a whole year. We're still tossing things around. As bad as things have been for me, for her they have been worse: sitting at home, staring out the same old window at the same old scenery, with no new job or new horizons to distract her from my absence. She's as desperate as I am to reunite. We'll figure something out, I'm sure.

The insanity of the moment has passed. We're no longer feeling lost and frightened. We have Skype, after all; it's not like we won't see each other for months and months. But it would be desirable if we didn't have to go a whole calendar year without the pleasure of each other's company. We'll attempt to find a compromise, a way in which we can see each other again.

Until we do, my personal purgatory continues.


Carrie said...

November 16, 2009 (on my blog, in one of my sappiest posts ever):

I wrote: "Sometimes I am drowning in the loneliness. Sometimes it feels like my lungs can't function without him beside me, and not only is not beside me, he is 4,416 miles away from me... It doesn't seem possible that we should be able to fall asleep and wake up and go to work and come home and go through the many motions of smiling and frowning in turn. It doesn't seem like we should be able to live apart. It doesn't feel as if things are in balance this way."

You commented: "I'd hoped way down deep that that's what it was really like. Now I have the barest hint of what I'm in for, and I can't wait."

Point: I'm really really glad you know what the loneliness is like now, because that means you also get to know how amazing it is when it's finally over. There really aren't words to describe it...but it's totally, completely, undeniably worth it. So hang in there. ;)

A.T. POST said...

Carrie: You will never have any idea how much those words--this comment--helped me. And Miss H. It's grand to have somebody listening who's been through something like what we're going through. Glad to hear it's all worthwhile. We needed to hear it. You're a lifesaver. Thanks so much.