I was curled up on the porch with a Boxer puppy trying to explain to him why he won’t be seeing my ex-girlfriend anymore.
“But she loved me,” Lenny whined.
“Yes, she did. But some people can breathe life into love for a moment, but can’t sustain it.”
“How can that be?” asked Lenny, flipping his head around fast, forgetting about everything but some flea biting his hind quarters.
“Just like that.” I said. “You forgot about me when you went after that flea.”
“It itched,” said Lenny.
“Yes, well, she had an itch.”
“Does she have fleas?” asked Lenny.
“I don’t think so. But she had been too long with me, and she would either have had to get deeper, discovering the power of love and its risks or move along. She moved on.”
“But I still love her,” said Lenny.
“Yes, you love her and she loves you, but both of you are easily distractible. You both are what is called a hook-up. You are there when you are there, the best fun ever, but then your attention goes elsewhere and you are on to something else.”
“I thought that was just the way life was,” said Lenny.
“Yes, it is. But sometimes people want more than that. So they agree to stay with each other for longer than their attention span. They fix each other dinner, go on dates and end up living together, and perhaps having kids.”
“I know what that is like.” said Lenny. “I live with my family, Jimmy is only a kid but he loves me and so do his mom and dad…but not as much.”
“Yes Lenny, it is a little like that, but notice that you aren’t with your family now, you are laying with me.”
I felt Lenny’s body tighten—there is a lizard on the edge of the porch, a big green one with a throat that puffs out irresistibly, bull fighter red. Lenny bolted for the lizard, making sure he was convincingly ferocious but missed it. He padded back, plopped himself down proudly and we resumed our conversation.
“I don’t understand why she isn’t here if she loves me,” says Lenny.
Not wanting to explain myself again I remained silent, knowing full well that he would forget whatever I said faster than I could say it. Lenny yawned, showing young, white teeth and reminding me that it is nearly time for my semiannual trip to the dentist.
We lay quietly for a while.
“I want to see her now,” said Lenny.
“Me too,” I agreed.
“Do you love her?” asked Lenny.
“I do. But it is different.”
“How so?” asked Lenny.
“I keep loving her whether she is here or not, whether she calls or not.”
“How do you do that?” Lenny asked curiously.
“I think of her a lot, I imagine a future with her. I think of all the times she laughed and when we cried together too. I can’t get her out of my mind and she lives in my heart and limbs too, even my toes.”
“That sounds like fun,” said Lenny. “But it sounds horrible too: does it hurt?
“It sure does.”
“Then stop it,” said Lenny.
“I can’t. I’ve tried. I don’t like it but it also makes me all soft and warm inside. It makes me feel horrible and wonderful at the same time.”
“I don’t understand that, either I feel really good, unless the vet is sticking a needle in me—that hurts,” said Lenny.
“Yes, that is the way a hook-up is, one moment it is the end of the world horrible, and the next it is as wonderful as can be. It is quite a ride.”
“That’s how it is,” echoed Lenny.
“Yes, but that isn’t how love is. Love is taking it all, the good and the bad, the high and the low—all of it.”
“I won’t be doing that,” said Lenny.
“And neither will she,” I complained.
“But she loves you?”
“Yes, she can love like crazy when she can. But she is a little like that thing people do with a daisy.” I said.
“What thing, and what is a daisy?” asked Lenny.
“A daisy is a flower, and they pull out a petal and say, ‘she loves me,’ then they pull out a petal and say, ‘she loves me not.’ Whichever the last petal is appears to be the truth you are left with about love.”
“That sounds lame, I would rather chase cars,” said Lenny
“Yes, a lot about love is lame. But chasing cars is lame too. Because you don’t really want to catch them. Hook-ups are constantly chasing but never catching. Maybe it a good thing that you don’t experience real love.”
“Oh, but I do,” said Lenny. “I love her and I love you.”
“Yes, that is what you call love Lenny, but it isn’t what most people call love. Real love doesn’t begin and end so fast. It is full of pain and pleasure and everything in between.”
“I’ll do without that please.”
“Yes, you will. But you won’t know you are doing without love and she doesn’t either. She calls what she does love, though it comes and goes too fast.”
“I like her kind of love, and my kind of love better than yours,” said Lenny proudly.
“I know. I don’t blame you,” I said. “I love you.”
“I love you too,” replied Lenny. “What were we talking about?”
“Nothin’,” I said.
Author: Jerry Stocking
Editor: Travis May