I fell in love with Portland in a single autumn, in corn mazes and coffee and woodsmoke and wool. I wandered her streets with my heart wide broken, soaking in the puddles and opening myself to the girl becoming, the girl who would evolve through the soggy deep love of that imperfect place.
I think sometimes the closest synonym I have for love is evolution.
Wandering San Diego, restless and ready to love her, I’ve been thinking about the root of that word, the way we hold and bend and change it. I have known lovers who carry a sacred definition of love in their minds like a dictionary page – love was this feeling, this moment, this way that I was – and lovers who toss the word over you as though it could mean nearly anything. I know those who have loved well and only the same person, or place, or dream for decades and it has fulfilled and formed and defined them, and others whose loves rise and fall with the moon change, deep and inconstant, varied and wild.
I think of the roundness of the word off my lips when whispered to Fable, the full-bodied us-ness that sweetens its core. I think of the history fluttering like photographs off the sound when I say it to my mother, the growing pains and old stories and raw holy knowns. I think of the lightness it carries offered like a balloon to a new friend on a dark day, the weight of it surrounded by weeping, the violent stubborn might of it when I am at the end of what I want to endure. I have used the word love as a weapon and balm, as a promise, a solution, a proposition, and a simple fact of my being.
I have owned love. Love has owned me.
But these late nights, I’m wandering and holding love as the key to evolving. Falling in love, it seems, is the way that I grow. It’s my sure path to change, to becoming. In order to do the work of learning, of hearing, of adapting, I first have to hold myself accountable to the fall. I have to walk thousands of steps, intentionally, that will open my heart wide broken to love.
It’s easy to avoid it. It is work, to love. It is risk. Evolution always comes with loss, and we are all bruised revolutionaries. Vulnerability burns like shame in the face of an unbreakable cultural comfortable norm.
But, given the opportunity, I trust love to be the surest and sweetest evolution. I trust that, as the word morphs and bends on my lips, as my expectations for and from it grow and change, as I learn to look with it over the palms and skies of this new place, it will break and move and become me.
We will grow together.
We will bruise.
We will rise.