I recently declared to a small gathering of other clothes nuts that if I was ordered to source my shoes from just one maker for the rest of my life it would be Alden. To a man, they were mildly shocked and I can see why. Once you co-mingle a reasonably deep bench of Aldens with the likes of Edward Green and Cleverley, Aldens take on a little bit of what I’ll call a ham-fisted, American clunk.
Additionally, one could argue that EG and Cleverley offer less clunky versions, slightly refined without being slick, interpretations of all the Alden favorites. I agree but still, there’s something familiar and comforting and American about Aldens that I enjoy. And there’s little remaining here in the Colonies that’s truly an American invention.
Sorry but the aforementioned Aldens ditty was a sleight. I spoke truth in the sleight but it was just an excuse, a set-up, to talk about love. This blog was supposed to be about clothes and shoes and socks and sartorial fuzziness though I’ve never been very focused and true to that intent. But I just felt that I should at least kick off my musings with something vaguely akin to what I used to write about. The following is part of an email exchange from early this morning. After reading it a few times and making an editorial change or two, I decided to share it…
“I must be getting used to my ICU campsite because I slept my ass off last night. Literally. I’ve looked all over for it and it’s gone. Not that I had much ass anyway. But I had vivid dreams which let me know that I was in and out of a deep sleep. The dreams were inconsequential…nothing too Freudian or otherwise and unfortunately not vividly sexual. And I’m taken by the fact that I dreamt anything at all here in the ICU amidst all of the chirps, beeps and squawks of medical technology. This coming Wednesday will mark one month of chirping, beeping and ICU squawking.
Writing wise, I’m preferring right now to just free-form a fixation about the definition of love that I landed on for a while yesterday. There isn’t at least in my opinion, one correct, proper definition of love. I would offer that different people have different definitions of love and how they express it…and no one is incorrect.
I remember LLS, our medical writer telling me one time about her father, a man who deeply loved his family but who just flat-out wasn’t much of an emoter. He didn’t cry, he didn’t offer flourishes of verbiage extolling how much he loved his wife and kids. He was rather stoic. Not cold…but stoic. But at the same time there wasn’t a deficit in his kindness or goodness. The reason I learned all this about LLS’s dad was when in the midst of a project she was working on with us, she got news that her brother’s dog wandered off in the woods somewhere around Lake Tahoe. LLS’s father dropped everything and flew from DC to Nevada and walked the woods for three days and nights helping look for her brother’s dog.
So her father, amidst his stoic and rather clinical, Germanic posture, was fully equipped with what I’ll call the love mechanics…the ability to emote and demonstrate in his way…what love is. LLS wasn’t surprised by his gesture at all but the reason I think she shared with me the details was just to kinda marvel out loud at how he chose to love people.
A more enduring love I think, is evidenced by walking for three days and nights with an inconsolable adult son who’s lost his dog—as opposed to just blathering on about how much you love someone yet offering little in actions to back it up. I think about the number of times that I’ve said and meant it when I said… “I love you” to my mother but didn’t have to back it up with anything other than the phone call that allowed me to declare it.
So…it’s easy to be in love…it’s easy to say, “Damn, I’m in love with this person”…when all is fun and easy and heady and new. And the dog isn’t lost. I’ve also learned that this definition of love is the most fleeting form. For if it’s based exclusively on a platform of life being fun and easy and unburdened, it’s likely to be unsustainable when life gets rocky…when the shit hits the fan. The year and a half leading up to me marrying LFG’s mom was one big, heady long weekend. We both travelled so we ended up rendezvousing in fun cities for great dinners and cocktails and music and museums and interesting, eclectic people. And when we were home it was more of the same.
Gracefully resolving conflict? Accommodation and compromise? Forgiveness only made genuine by forcing down an almost unpalatable portion of humility...the humility made unpalatable only by the taint from our own ego? I believe these to be tactical behaviors that support a robust love and I never had to face any of these with LFG’s mom prior to our marriage.
I believe that love is its truest and best when people in love can love themselves and others through the roughest patches. Otherwise, love might better be remaindered to the chemistry, infatuation pile. And I’ve been reminded during these recent weeks and events that love might also be an instructive taskmaster if we are willing to be accepting students.
These almost four weeks with my mom have seen me, the student, front and center on some days and flat-out cutting class on others. I’ve felt a more selfless love for my mother these past two days but I’m sure I’ll revert back to the egoistic, self-regarding, immature son who loves his mother but can’t be bothered too much longer with all this shit. You know, the selfish son who is angry that she lived instead of declining the absurd but surely transient second chance that we in the bleachers are now watching her toy with.
But for now, I’m feeding her small spoonsful of Cheerios and milk and I’m assuring her for the hundredth damn time that I’ve paid the lawn service fella to take care of everything that’s about to have the audacity amidst all this adversity, to bloom at home.”
Onward. Assless. ICU jockeying. Avec Cheerios and my mama.