Saturday, April 6, 2013

unrequited loves 
we all have them.  all of us.  and don't ever underestimate the power they have over our lives, these unrequited loves.

i often wonder, when it comes to unrequited loves, if perhaps the "one that got away" may actually carry more influence over our lives than the ones that stayed at home.  if i were to experiment on myself, i would then have to assess which category of experience i carry more frequently in my thoughts.  hmmm.

there is a way of thinking that goes like this:  we want most what we cannot have.  many would argue that the best example of this is shakespeare's romeo and juliet.

viewed through a modern lens, the love affair in this play seems almost silly to me now--i mean who could take seriously the "love" between two teens (romeo was 16, juliet was 13)?  and yet, in its time, the characters were very much able to experience passionate love.  hell, in its time most people were married by the age of 16 and dead by 50, but i digress.  where today you would simply have a crush between two young schoolkids, back then it was life and death love.  what made the difference?  for me, the difference is that the love of romeo and juliet, unlike a modern schoolkid crush, was forbidden.  and didn't proust say "rejection is the greatest aphrodisiac"?  not exactly the same thing, but close enough.

of course, for teens, love is most always super-duper passionate, and that seems to be the case no matter what age we are in.  now that i think about it, a good cinematic example of passionate young love surfaced during the last century, and since i recently re-watched this film, it is freshly present in my mind.  i am referring to "endless love", the brooke shields vehicle from 1980.  though not a romeo and juliet per say, it is a portrayal of a very passionate love, or at least a very obsessive love.  it starts out as a lovely snapshot of the times--free love and permissive parenting--beautiful young people exploring passion for the first time.

but then it takes on the romeo and juliet factor:  the love becomes forbidden, and all hell breaks loose.  by the end of the film, parents are divorced, a house is burned down, one father is dead, and everyone is fighting.  but you know what?   the love between the two teens endures.  very much unlike shakespeare.

but back to unrequited loves.  love can certainly be unrequited because it is deemed forbidden, but that is not the only cause.  love could become unrequited because it is unattainable due to distance, culture, or age.  love could become unrequited because the object of love does not return the affection or share the feelings.  love could become unrequited because of self-denial, such as a married person not acting on a work crush.  or love could become unrequited because someone decides that it would not be in his or her best interest to pursue the object of affection.  this last instance is the circumstance i want to comment on in this post, since that is how i view my relationship with san francisco.


my decision to not move to san francisco broke my heart just a little bit--even with the relief and the confidence that came with my choice to stay in los angeles.  the decision has been on my mind a lot lately, because had i gone through with the move as planned, i would currently be negotiating the last weeks of my los angeles life.  i would probably have made the move in april or may at the latest, and by all accounts, i would probably be freaking out.  but i also would have been excited, a bit.

now i have gone over the decision to stay in los angeles in other posts, so i don't need to cover that territory again.  but i do realize that by not moving to san francisco, i may forever hold the city by the bay in my heart as an unrequited love.  and maybe that is not such a bad thing.

the city of san francisco has a mythical appeal to many, including me.  my favorite myth is that it is where the lost souls of atlantis, reincarnated as current folks, gather to reconnect with one another.

Atlantis by Chris Diston
Puddle Jumper by "Antiker"
Rendered in 3d Max 7
Clouds made in Paint Shop Pro 7
i like that myth, even though i don't believe that atlantis ever existed, or that we have souls that can be reincarnated.  but i digress.  i enjoyed thinking of myself, even if only in my imagination, as a wandering holdover from a long deceased advanced society, and that my move was merely me finding my way home.  haha. i do love san francisco, i do.  but i also wonder if i would continue to love it had i consummated the relationship with a move.  would the mythology hold up among the reality of making a go in a new (very expensive) city?  would the sheen begin to dim as i became more familiar with the annoying crowds of hipsters or the violence in the east bay or the ridiculous cost of living there or the cold damp weather?  would my love become tarnished as i arrived at the realization that i had left behind my entire support group and all my cherished friends?

when i moved to los angeles, it was not because of love.  i moved here because i wanted to make it as an entertainer.  there was no illusion that i was going to love the city. i guess you could call it a "marriage of convenience", devoid of passion, but not unbearable.  los angeles and i used each other.  over time, i have grown fond of this city (and hopefully it has become fond of me), or at least certain aspects of it, perhaps in the same way that one becomes fond of their partner in an arranged marriage.  you deal with it, because that is where you are.

san francisco would have been a move for love.  but would it have stayed that way?  well, i may never know.  but i do suppose that i would continue to love it, maybe in a different way.  it is a great and beautiful city after all, and there is so much to love, and it is so right for me.  but this is not the first time that i have made a decision against passion in the name of good sense, and i have accumulated very few regrets along the way.  one might say that my life is littered with unrequited loves.  perhaps yours is too!  and that, in my opinion, is a good thing, as long as we have some requited love right from time to time. it is possible that i love san francisco more because i am not moving there, but that is not the only shift that is happening.  i also find that i can no longer hate los angeles--because i have chosen to stay here.  so i get to uncover myths behind my being/staying in this city, and along the way, who knows, i may just fall in love.  i just may.


  1. An idealistic love from afar is always immensely appealing and intriguing. The reality of it, unfortunately, most often pales in comparison.

    It seems that the rationality of your mind has been victorious over the passions of your heart. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing. I have no doubt that falling in love is in your future.....

    A very interesting post!

    1. thank you, jon. it is my goal to "balance" my rationality with my passion, while being aware that they will never balance equally. to and fro movement is alright with me, as long as i have solid ground from which to jump from.

      you sound like a fortune teller when you comment on my future possibilities! maybe you are! but the mysterious part is that i feel that while your projection may come true, i cannot imagine what it will look like at this point in my life. huh.

  2. I have 2 unrequited loves, both deceased. both these men are locked in a secret place in my heart.

    and yeah SFO is expensive, just like DC and NYC and BOS. but pretty.

    1. that is exactly where unrequited loves reside, anne marie. my heart is full of them, but they fill me up rather than drain me with regrets. they are the base from which hope is built. i am glad that you have a couple!

  3. Tony,

    A very thoughtful post which raises more questions than I can possibly address in this small comment section.

    Long ago I made an "arrangement" because I knew I could never fulfill that unrequited love that has always resided in my heart. I had an ideal that, even in my youth, I knew I could probably never attain. So I "settled" into a comfortable, not too bad arrangement which was much better than living alone but still, didn't quite make me feel complete. Then, late in my life, comes along someone to awaken those long dormant expectations that I had. Expectations that I never thought would be realized causing me to think "What if?" What is so cruel about that realization is that you know, you just know deep within you, that you would feel complete with that person. Your lifelong quest for meeting the love of your life would come to an end and you would live happily ever after. You would be complete.

    This isn't physical lust, it is not a momentary infatuation but this is IT. Prince Charming has arrived for me but I already got on the train and left the station, playing it safe.

    We all in our lifetime have to face this reality of "what if I had taken that road?' be it choosing a profession, moving to a different city or state of meeting the perfect (or near perfect) mate.

    There is much that I don't know but I do know this one truth; I know when I meet that "one." It deeply pains my heart to know that I have missed the train and what could have been will never be.

    All I can do to console myself is to be grateful to have seen the "light", which to me represents that "light at the end of the tunnel" when we die. That light is love and I have seen and experienced its all enveloping love. I know when I die that either I will be swept up in that light or I will know nothing and the pain will stop. Either way I win. That knowledge gives me comfort and helps me to accept the reality of my present situation in life.

    Thank you for this post. It came at a very appropriate time.

    Retired in Delaware

    1. ron, i am touched by your thoughtful and revealing comment. being one of your readers, i am familiar with your "arrangement", and perhaps that could be a metaphor for me "settling" for los angeles. but i do take issue with one thing in your comment--i do not put much stock in "happily ever after", or the idea that anyone can "complete" me(and i don't really believe that you do either!). that is what makes unrequited love so delicious, is that it offers the hope, the idea, the promise, of what can never really be. not that we can't be happy with someone, but i do really and truly feel that if romeo and juliet had lived and stayed together, they would have become bored middle aged people just like so many of us! it is interesting to look at brooke shields now, after the striking promise of her extraordinary youthful beauty--she has struggled like all of us and is now middle-aged, not so beautiful anymore, and dealing with all that entails (and doing it well). for me, the "perfect love" of san francisco inspires me to create what i want around me here in los angeles. it helps me to get clearer on what is important to me, realizing that i can have that pretty much anywhere, not just san francisco (lessening the "what ifs). when i work with couples who are dealing with fidelity issues, we address the same topic because "what ifs" come up a lot. i do believe that in most cases you can create what you want in the relationship you are in--mostly. the way i see it, your "arrangement" may seem like settling to you, but it may have also kept you alive during the peak of the aids crisis. would you have traded passion for life? many did. i think you can have both, and that is my continuing journey. i am glad that this resonated with you, and though you may think you have missed the train, there are a lot more trains to jump on, i think (evidence: blogerpalooza!). you do win, ron.

    2. Thank you Tony for your thoughtful response. I read it and considered. Yes, I do have an arrangement and even after all these years we are still "working it out." For instance (and I can say this because Bill will never read or know how to find this comment) Bill went off the deep end with my activity in Wilmington this past week where I attended Governor Markell's announcement of legislation legalizing same sex marriage. Bill is still in the closet. Still ashamed to be out and proud as a gay man. He is from that old school that to survive, the only know to hide. Always afraid of "what will the neighbors think?", this attitude has caused much friction in our long relationship. In spite of this major problem (which I do consider major) I still love the man and he loves me. Several times I almost left only to realize I could not life my life without him nor leave him alone to life his life without me. We may be different in a lot of ways but we do compliment each other. My one wish is that sometime before Bill dies he would come to terms with his homosexuality and accept himself but I don't have much hope for that. That's why I've always wondered what my life would have been liked living with a man who wasn't possessed with so much self-hatred of his own gayness. But then isn't that what love is about? Making sacrifices for the one you love? But still, every now and then I met an angel like figure that seems to fit all the particulars that I am looking for but as you say, probably after awhile reality would set in and that person would have flaws too. One thing I am ever thankful for and I am pretty sure would never have happened with anyone else I met, I know that Bill loves me and will always love me. No one has ever or would ever love me as much as Bill and I return his love in kind. So our "arrangement" works for us.


  4. I was good to see you posting!
    Lost loves have the advantage they go into our fantasies and are not spoiled by 'realities'. The Lost Love is an archetype in itself - powerful and universal.

    1. thanks, michael! when i leave my job in two weeks i should be posting more often. i like that you have classified lost loves as an archetype--that is a perfect way to put it--an ideal that has the power to motivate and influence us.