My first kiss was in Grade One. This physical act would prove somewhat symbolic for my future romantic life up until now, as it was not reciprocated. I vaguely remember one day crawling under my desk, which was joined in a crude rectangle with a few other desks, and kissing the leg of a girl I apparently had a crush on. It is one of my earliest memories, if not the earliest. A deviant act, you might cynically conclude. But, please, I was five-years-old and simply engaging in an innocent act of affection. I can’t remember her reaction. I believe it went ignored, or perhaps simply misunderstood by an equally innocent mind.
I’ve wished to write about women for a while now. Of course I have already written about them in short stories and through countless other media. But never as exclusively as this. And not in quite such a context. I became inspired to write at length about them because of an epiphany I had: women are like the English language, in that they are complex, delicate, strong, sophisticated, beautiful, and impossible to ever completely understand. Which I’ll die trying to do, anyway. For I love them both, deeply. It so happens this inspiration was crystalised while I was reading the (King James) Bible, of all things. A particular passage of the Bible, about a thirsty man sent by God to find a wife. He finds himself in a field, and approached by a beautiful, virginal young woman. She gives him water, then waters his camels, then takes him into her home to feed and house him. After which they marry.
It seems almost a cliché, it is so appropriate that I was reading about such an event while becoming inspired to write about women, but not that the passage directly inspired me. My love for the written word had intersected with my love for women, at a time in which both were foremost in my mind. Yet I was still left dissatisfied. This speaks to the mysterious nature of women: they unpredictably weave their way in and out of mens’ lives in ways we’re simply unable to comprehend. Take the first woman I loved: my mother. I was born 10 weeks premature. You could argue this was my doing, but I believe it was more her, unconsciously of course, seeking to bring me forth into the world earlier than predicted. And that too symbolically set the scene for the rest of my tumultuous life with women. Not that my mother is unreliable. She’s certainly unpredictable, as all her kind are, but a more caring and loving mother I could not have found.
I have loved quite a few women, now that I think of it. And they, me, but rarely at the same time. As in should I love them, they should not love me. And vice versa. Often these emotions have in fact been shared, reciprocated; but more often they have not been shared, reciprocated. And I am quite without bitterness about this. Because women truly are like the English language. Or more specifically the countless books I’ve read written in English, because almost never can you prejudge what might happen in a book. A book cannot be steered. You can only experience and interpret it as your eyes pass over and absorb the words on the page. It is the same with women: prejudge them and you will almost always be committing a grievous error. You should instead simply either find pleasurable or painful your experience of them, depending on the impact they desire to make and the manner in which you interpret their actions.
I do genuinely or, at least, philosophically love all women. It’s just that in my every case of unrequited affection toward them, all have appeared to underestimate just how deeply the rejection has stung me. My second kiss wasn’t until nearly 15 years later. It was a full moon, it was with a girl of 17 whom I loved unconditionally, and she did reciprocate. Due to my inexperience, it was more like a vacuum cleaner coming across a throw rug than a perfect romantic moment. Practicably, it was my worst kiss; romantically, it was my best. About two weeks later she called me to “end it”. I was heartbroken. The weeks and even months afterward constituted the most intense physical and emotional pain I will ever feel. I believe, and in fact have been told, it was a far from painless experience for her, too. It may have made me less naive, even a little healthily distrusting and cold-hearted, but it did not diminish my empathy, my romanticism, my love for the fairer sex. A thousand such metaphorical stabs at my heart would in fact kill me before they could kill my love.
Since then besides an almost two year relationship that need not be addressed due to what I’m sure you can infer from its length, my romantic encounters with women have been brief, at best. Nothing but chance encounters with small, fast-moving sources of light in the vast darkness. It’s to my great personal tragedy that I’m a walking dichotomy: at once introverted but bursting for the most superficial and fleeting, at least; or deepest and longest lasting, if only, shared affection from females. For the bulk of my life women, from a romantic perspective, have stood on distant shores from mine. So often I’d row to their island, only to find they’d moved to another one and had failed to even notice the perilous and doomed journey I’d taken to seek their companionship. I’m now a much better kisser, lover, empathiser and companion, but with not nearly the amount of consistent practise I desire. My interactions with people over the years have been dominated by women. Women as family, as friends, as bosses as colleagues as customers as passing strangers as acquaintances as sexual objects as intellectual stimulators. As inspirations. But too rarely as romantic companions.
I feel like I’ve failed to adequately convey my feelings on this subject. But again that makes sense. How do you explain your feelings on a subject that you plan to try to understand for the rest of your life but know you never will? How do you draw conclusions on a topic to which so much mystery still stubbornly attaches itself after almost 30 years of investigation? All I know for sure is that when I look in a woman’s eyes I feel the most extreme sense of awe relative to the circumstances of my connection with them. Whether I find a woman intelligent, idiotic, beautiful, plain, insightful, demanding, intransigent, submissive, aggressive, boring, hysterical, polite, rude or all of the above, it is felt with a keenness that I have never been able to attribute to men. And though I’m quite comfortable with my heterosexuality, I’m not trying to defend it through outlining this intensity of feeling. I’m thinking all men regardless of sexuality feel it too, when engaging with a woman in whatever context. “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned”. Indeed, but such extreme seems to go to everything about women – whether positive or negative. A beautiful woman sitting alone on a beach and reading radiates, to me, simply dazzling levels of energy that surely are more than the result of my hormones reacting to external stimulation.
Ultimately, though the lines are more blurred in a modern context, women are man’s other half. Our balance. And us, theirs. The vital component in what makes us human is them, and what makes them human is us. But not just because of procreation. Surely whether physically, emotionally or intellectually there can be a no more enduringly beautiful occurrence than when a man and woman connect. I mean not to come across as homophobic with that last sentence. Gay men and women probably feel the same way about other gay men and women. My point, and I struggle to make it as it floats on its metaphorical island away from my furiously paddling canoe like so many phantasmagorical women, is that it really is that flawed human desire for the unknown that attracts me so much and so often without reciprocation to women. I know even with the most passionate physical love, with the deepest emotional connection and the most profound intellectual understanding between myself and one member of the opposite sex, there will always be so much on all counts I yearn to discover in, from and about her. Forever. And I’m comfortable with that. Understanding a woman is the greatest journey a man can take; a journey made more enjoyable than any other for having a destination that can never be reached.