Love. Coming as close to knowing what you are and what you're doing here as you can get. Being lovingly looked on and seen. The pleasant embarrassments, the doubt and certitude, all there, all splendid.
Even those who pretend to know better don't know any better. This is Mark Twain, writing to his wife on her 30th birthday: "Let us look forward to the coming anniversaries, with their age and their grey hairs without fear and without depression, trusting and believing that the love we bear each other will be sufficient to make them blessed."
Or take Emma Goldman, anarchist and feminist, known as one of the fiercest political fires of the 20th century. She wrote this to her lover, Ben Reitman: "Yet, if I were asked to choose between a world of understanding and the spring that fills my body with fire, I should have to choose the spring. It is life, sunshine, music, untold ecstasy. The Spring, o ye gods, that have tortured my body all these years, I will give you my soul only let me drink, drink from the Spring of my master lover."
So what is your Walgreen-fetched card with the Valentine symbol next to stuff like this? Only writers are foolish enough to think there are right words. But sometimes Colossi who stand astride the globe itself join the parade.
Here is Bonaparte himself, complaining that his Josephine is not nearly the lover that he is: "What do you do all day, Madam? What is the affair so important as to leave you no time to write to your devoted lover? What affection stifles and puts to one side the love, the tender and constant love you promised him? Josephine, take care! Some fine night, the doors will be broken open, and there I'll be I hope before long to crush you in my arms and cover you with a million kisses burning as though beneath the equator."
Too much urgency? Impossible! This is love we're talking about here. Katherine Anne Porter found urgency to be the test of love's authenticity: "Love that can put itself off until all the other business of life is settled is not love at all, it is a mere convenience of emotion."
And for many there is no respite this side of the grass. This from 87-year-old Henry Miller, enamored of a much-younger fan with the improbable name of Brenda Venus and without whom he claimed, he would have been forced "to drowse away his last years with the needle and the knockout drops for company."
Here's part of what Miller told his Venus: "Do I really deserve all the beautiful praises you heap on me? You cause me to wonder exactly who I am, do I really know who and what I am? You leave me swimming in this mystery. For that I love you all the more. I get down on my knees, I pray for you, I bless you with what little sainthood that is in me."
Ah, even a notte d'amore comes to an end. Softly, I close the book on love and wait for sleep.
The morning sneaks into the room and creeps along the walls, leaving blue footprints everywhere. The ceiling fan comes slowly into focus. You turn your head slightly to peep and what you see is a close-by eye open and then close, and two silent smiles trade places on the room's big bed.
Your arm stretches out in invitation, and it's accepted. Nobody says anything about a time limit for all this; nobody says much of anything at all. There is a hand laid lightly on your chest, with much more reverence than you deserve and far more than you'll ever get anywhere else.
In less than an hour, your world will open way up and all kinds of people will walk in. Some will want your money, and others will not want your opinion. Some will feel they've not seen nearly enough of you, and others will feel they've seen way too much. Now the world is smaller and fits very comfortably between these sheets. Only you and the perpetual Other -- and you have your arms around that Other, at least for now.
Your eyes close in sweet safety, and your mouth lightly brushes someone else's hair. So much distance between two human beings; so much good in making that distance smaller.
All too soon the hunter inside you will stir, knowing that there are things that must be caught. Milk. Insurance. A 12-volt battery. But at least for right now, all you really need is close by and yours.
Suddenly -- and the thought brings more smile than sadness -- there is the certainty that no part of what's left of the day will be quite as good as the way it's begun. I'm in love, love, love. Sho nuff in love.