I just started reading Kiran Desai’s lyrically written novel, The Inheritance of Loss. Quickly, I came across a paragraph that stopped me in my tracks.

”Could fulfillment every be felt as deeply as loss? Romantically … love must surely reside in the gap between desire and fulfillment, in the lack, not the contentment. Love was the ache, the anticipation, the retreat, everything around it but the emotion itself.”

All my life, I have thought love was the destination, not the journey. The building, the reaching, the ache, that was the momentum leading up to love and, once there, love was the quiet. The sitting on the couch and watching a movie together. The closing your eyes on the backyard swing as the summer sun sets over the house. Love, I thought in my younger years, was security, knowing someone, counting on them to be there, the constancy in expectation and yes, contentment. The lack of worry, the finally not having to be “on” all the time.

But if love is the gap, if love is the wanting, then what is the destination? What are we all shooting for?

And if love is the journey, do we ever arrive at a destination? And if we do, is it a disappointment, by definition?

Is love the exploration of another person, the examination of possibility?

I know it’s just a novel and while the words are beautiful, they represent the thoughts of a character created out of the thin blue air. But I believe the written word has the power to change us completely.

I’ve thought I was in love many times, but then whatever I felt was love evaporated like the night into the dawn. Was love John running down the street after my departing car? Was love my husband choosing email in the basement over falling asleep beside me?

I want to find a love that endures, one that becomes the softness of an old knitted blanket, reassuring in the dark night. A love that lasts into and out of conversations over morning coffee and the New York Times spread open on the kitchen table. I want a love that IS contentment even as it is passion.

I want a love that is a full refrigerator, a beautiful meal on painted ceramic serving pieces, full glasses of wine glinting against the light.


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