A former poetry professor of mine, Janet Hamer, once advised the class to only write love poetry after our fortieth birthday. Being young and stupid, I insisted the right to write love poetry should be on everyone's poetic grocery list. For a few years before receiving this advice from Prof. Hamer, and a few years after, actually, I wrote a ream on one woman. I knew her in high school, and we were good friends, that's it. Needless to say, with a young poet's vigor, I wrote her. I wrote her and rewrote her, always looking for the best possible words to describe her, to inspire her, and to admire her.
Over the years (what's 2002 - 1996 again?), I created a set of ideals and images I called "Christine." That was her name, but around 1999, she was clearly no longer a person, and became the most important character in the mental morality play that is my perception. I loved Christine so much, I took her name away, and gave it to a portion of my own psyche. It was also in 1999 that I found Petrarch, first in English translation, then in Italian. He did much the same thing to Laura as I did to Christine. We were partners in crime, stealing names, and giving them to impossibly pure and impossibly virtuous delusions. I stopped reading Shakespeare because it didn't speak to me like Petrarch did, and I thought the Bard was simply mocking Petrarch in his sonnets.
At first, when Christine left, I was heartbroken. I found my voice mute to her. I wanted desperately to tell her everything, and share this poetry with her, but I did nothing: nothing but change. I used her name, not only as a shrine to my memory, not only as a launching pad for my poetic ambitions, but also as a measure of convenience. If I was thoroughly in love with Christine, why would I need a relationship away from her? That was how I thought, lived, and wrote.
In December of 2003, things changed. I actually got the courage, with a little prodding, to ask out my friend Jaime. As you can probably tell, I fell head over heels in love with her. Verses flowed; flowers bloomed, and my love grew with them. Yeah, Jaime wasn't as pretty as Christine was, and did not have the same degree of distinguishing features of my lady-love in the sky; but she was real. I was closer to Jaime than I'd ever been to virtually anyone. She kept trying to tell me how fat she was, but I told her the beauty I saw in her with my own eyes, and confessed much of my life's previous regrets. To this day, there are things that only she knows. The best part about the relationship, to me, was the reciprocity. I loved someone, and that someone loved me back! This concept was totally foreign to my world. I wrote Jaime. I wrote her hard. I'd created two epic poems (no exaggeration) on Christine, and I wanted something at least as profound for Jaime. The epic's title was "Princess Black and Yellow," her two favorite colors. By June 2004, I produced a sizable volume of verse under the Princess Black and Yellow banner, and the rest was planned. We went out for nearly six months, then she dumped me; wah wah wah. Turns out she hated my insipid love poetry as much as the voices in my head. The soft underbelly of my existence, so guarded in times past, I always assumed to be lovable and real. It's not; it's a paincushion: I am the monster, not them: the voices in my head. I thought I knew love, and love knew me. I was wrong. The same infatuation follows me around now with Jaime as it did with Christine. I can make a lot of Christine's long, red hair (capelli lunghi rossi), and her blue eyes (occhi blue), but there's only so many things one can write about a brown-haired woman with brownish green eyes.
What does this have to do with Hamer, the Bard, and Petrarch? Professor Hamer's sentiment was right: I didn't know love, I only knew the very basics of how my mind and body reacted to the presence of the opposite sex. The Bard was right to mock Petrarch in his sonnets. Petrarch knew less than I did; his love was even more tied up in his ego than mine. About Petrarch, I still love the guy, and I love his books; I just can't have another Christine on my hands with Jaime. I am determined to stay friends with Jaime until I feel nothing for her. Seven years from now, I don't want to choke on love again because I couldn't get over an average to below-average relationship. Maybe by he time I'm forty, I'll know a little more about love.