The loss of love takes away from its rewards

For Dana Ruggiero and all those other people out there in the world still blissfully unaware of what it feels like to be in love, let me tell you, you’re better off not knowing. Now, before people start accusing me of being the Grinch who stole Christmas, let me explain what I mean. I’ve had the opportunity to be in love once during my life, and while I would be willing to testify in any court of law that the birds did sing louder, the sun did shine brighter and I did hear bells in the background, in the end, it just didn’t seem to be worth it.
Let’s take a quick trip through my sordid history with women. My first girlfriend was back in first grade. In fact, I think we even lasted into the second grade. In second grade, our teacher had a crescent-shaped table where we would sit and work on our reading skills. The most prized seat was at the head of the table, right by the teacher. One day, my girlfriend and I reached that seat at the same time, each getting one buttock on it. No amount of sweet talk between the two of us could sway the other to take another seat. Our teacher decided the matter for us, relegating my girlfriend to the seat farthest from the head of the table. When she alternated between giving me dirty looks and ignoring me, I knew it was over.
Although my experiences with her were far from traumatizing, I stayed away from women until my sophomore year in high school. Then I ran into a theater chick and had a few enjoyable months with her, spending afternoons at coffee houses and experiencing my first make-out session in the back of a friend’s Geo Metro. Then, one day, she came up to me and said, “Jende, I’m leaving you for a woman.” Hmmm. That made for some interesting gossip around school.
The biggest trauma from that relationship actually came from the jokes I endured afterwards. For the longest time, all my friends talked about my ability to turn my ex-girlfriend down the road to homosexuality. But I wasn’t cynical about love since I knew I hadn’t really been in it.
High school quickly turned into college. Although I was not searching for a girlfriend, some groveling in addition to the rudimentary wit and charm I supposedly possess allowed me to face every day with happiness and joy since, yes, I fell in love.
It is amazing what love can do to a person. While I was unable to locate the cure for cancer during my relationship, I was pretty sure I found the cure to loneliness. When you fall in love for the first time, most of your higher brain functions automatically leave your head and fly to Tahiti. They’ll be back, but meanwhile imposters, controlled by your heart yet claiming to be the thinking parts, take over.
I suppose the best words to relate how I felt at the time would be unbounded joy. My thoughts and actions — even the reason I woke up every day — were because of her. For one of the first times in my life, I knew there was someone in this world I could actually trust. Someone around whom I could just be myself. The feeling of euphoria was incredible.
Then, after less than a year of that unbounded joy, she dumped me. Not only was it traumatizing in general, but it was also disorientating. I had made the mistake of putting so much into my relationship with her, and in the course of one night, all of that was gone. I had nothing. I was once again left to find my way through the wilderness that is my life, very much alone.
What I foolishly failed to realize, and the mistake many people make, is that you’re usually not lucky enough to fall in love with that perfect somebody the first time around. In fact, I don’t really think there is a soul mate or a perfect somebody for everyone out there in the world.
Part of the way love works is to act as a social gel that allows two people to be together, even if they aren’t perfect for each other. After all, how many people have fallen in love and then discovered some undesirable trait in their mate? Love is what allows you to gloss over those annoying little aspects and focus on the fact that, in general, you are happy with this person and want to be with them.
When you love someone, it isn’t just about sex, commitment or having 2.5 kids. It’s about trust. It’s about trusting someone in a radically different way than you might trust your parents, your friends or your colleagues. You give part of yourself to this person, something you can never really take back, and you can only hope they will reciprocate the gesture. If you’re lucky, you will find someone who is willing to take on that role for the rest of his or her life. But most times, you’re going to get saddled with someone who seems right only because of the love blinders you’re wearing over your eyes.
Love hurts. It really does. But I suppose that’s part of the risk you take when entering into that realm. To trust another person in the way I did, or being even half as committed as I was, is a horrifying thought for me now. I suppose some day I’ll be returning to the path that leads to this euphoria known as love, but I don’t know if I should be enthusiastic or nervous about this. Will the commitment I make and the trust I build be destroyed as easily as it was the first time?
So yeah, I’ve been to the Land of Oz. It’s a great place — really, it is. But your chances of staying there the very first time you find it are slim. One day, you’ll most likely be rudely escorted out of there and told not to come back. And let me tell you, it sucks. From the outside looking in, you realize what you had and how valuable it was. It becomes something you still want, but now are afraid to have.
So for those out there who have not yet experienced that great thing known as love, enjoy it. This is one of those times when ignorance truly is bliss.
Jende Huang is a Daily editorial writer. He welcomes comments at [email protected] Send letters to the editor to [email protected]