Mary Beth brought me into the literary folds of a writing group that meets monthly. Hosted by a sweet woman named Debbie, it is a chance to share and talk and write with other women who like to share and talk and write. Ironically, Debbie's home always makes me wish I had brought my camera- nestled on the edge of a wood along a lovely stream, the property is exceedingly beautiful and lends itself to serene creativity. I always have the urge to take a photo rather than write about it's beauty.
We sat at the table and a stack of envelopes was passed around, each one containing a writing prompt. I slid my card out and read the topic question:
What roles do love and affection play in your life?
Oh, for God's sake. I sighed and considered slipping the envelope back into the pile and choosing a new one. But one of the reasons I joined this group was to work on writing as honestly as possible, so I sighed and opened my notebook. Everyone else did the same and for a second, I took in the glow of the sun through the leaves outside and the sounds of pens scratching before I started to write.
As I age, love and affection become trickier things. When I was young love came to me- and, subsequently, flowed from me- with such ease. I was a hugger, a take-er in-er, a sympathetic ear. I loved meeting a new person and taking in every bit of them. It wasn't a frivolous feeling; it was intense and authentic. When I loved, I loved.
The danger, of course, is that to love that greatly you have to be vulnerable, an open window to let whatever may be blow in. It's a very risky thing, this love business, and as I become older it becomes a more difficult risk to take.
I find that I wear love as a measured thing, my windows no long flung open but merely cracked, sometimes closed. Physical affection- hugs and kisses and snuggles- can sometimes leave me feeling naked and unprotected, so I close myself off. It feels safe- and what could go wrong with this method? Being shot can kill you, so why would you put yourself in front of a loaded gun? Stay safe.
Still, there's conflict, all the time, that free, spirited girl that soaked in love versus the part that isn't brave enough to be her anymore. Safe may be lonely, but risk is too risky.