Perspectives: Relationships
Letting Go: Understanding the Laws of Physics

February 8, 2009 Print version       Other articles by this author

I always seem to get "got". This is no victim story, but the reflections of a man who lives for loving, if misguided by the projection of his passion. For all the writing about loving I've done, there is no crystal ball forecasting the "forever love" I've imagined I would find and keep. All of my past loves have been mere lessons in falling; so the task becomes not committing shamelessly to the lesson itself-- giving more time for commitment to show up, for me, in the ways I've offered, in terms of evidence, for others. Far too often "I didn't see it coming". Too often, in the aftermath, I've remained the only one desiring harder prayer, third party mediation, compromise or sacrifice, to make things work. It is a hopeless feeling when, after things fall apart, you are left with little evidence beyond your own work, of the relationship. In the past I have been so resolved about my own praxis of loving that I overlooked the requisite for mutuality and reciprocity needed for any healthy relationship to really work. I have even felt, at times, that my desire for this "forever love" is so intense, so overwhelming, that it taints my own better judgment and self-protection. People who are well-meaning, who are drawn to that spark of light that makes you powerful beyond the ways even you can measure, will go along for the ride. They will almost never stay. Promises become empty. Commitments are rhetorical devices of romance. Loss is felt to the degree of the surrender. And I sometimes feel that taking good care of this heart means not indulging romance at all. But I like the way I smile when in love. And the smile when alone isn't half bad either. Sometimes you have to really own that you experience the two differently.

I'm unapologetically black and gay, shamelessly POZ, non-religious if deeply spiritual, and an activist. To be sure, a formulaic "looks + accolades x passion = relationship success" does not take into account that the seemingly generous pool of "eligible" black gay men becomes all too miniscule when most black gay men don't live in full truth: about their sexuality, their HIV status, even about their gender expression (e.g., "I'm DL" being the catch all for "I'm not a faggot, I just fuck a lot"). So being as BARE as I've become, I always figure that one drawn to me is aware of what they're getting into. Beyond general notions of being "out", I'm a gay celebrity and public figure. You figure that one who has read your books and listened to your music, beyond the countless hours of conversation, "gets it". I'm one who lives life in full color, not just "behind closed doors" but takes great pride in some integration of my romantic life and my professional and artistic life. I don't see straight people compartmentalizing their work, their spirituality, and their love. For the most part, they joyously celebrate their heterosexuality at office holiday parties, social events, and family gatherings. And why shouldn't they? But why shouldn't we?

Why should we reduce our relationships as black gay men to a wholly different set of standards for fear of rebuke or some false sense of protection? Public perception of black LGBT folk will never change due to our silence and invisibility. And perhaps the mistake has been making my relationships the "statement", so much that it's not "just a relationship". In my last relationship I was told: "I love you, but I can do without all your celebrity and all your business and gigs and shows." And I wonder who I am without these things. I even beat myself up for not just being a normal guy who comes home and loves his dude. I'm just a guy who believes I shouldn't compartmentalize my business, gigs, and shows from my loving. It's asking me to choose my life over my life. So I am prepared to walk this path alone, here out, if one cannot know me well enough to know that I am all those things AND the man who is committed to loving them with all I have. I'm both/and not either or. I have also resolved that entering relationships without the certainty of this resolve from a partner is evidence of my own carelessness. Growing to appreciate the fullness in which I live and love also means not being ashamed or embarrassed about its volition, even as it creates some challenges for relationships. Right now loving me means letting go of someone I believed was the "love of my life". But I have felt this way before, and surely, being "made this way", will feel this way again.

I wrote something recently affirming of the ways I've gone about loving that was really about self-forgiveness, if prompted by well-meaning friends who suggested that I "just get over" Jones-West, that I just get over the breakup that has been, by necessity, as public, if curious, as our decision to be partners. I'd beaten myself up quite a bit-- wondering why I didn't see the signs, why I didn't see the signs that with commitment comes the evidence of personal sacrifice-- the suspension, however momentary, of the ME for the WE. Otherwise, why be involved at all? And at the end of the day, without casting blame, I demanded little evidence-- allowed myself to provide it when it didn't seem mutual, reciprocal or balanced. But I'm a romantic who dreams of a love where I don't have to brandish my weapons or sharpen peripheral vision. I romanticize that high school sweetheart compatibility where it just "clicks" and you experience that grossly gushy synchronicity that makes people sick to their stomachs for all the ways it is effortless. And, in truth, I've thought all of my loves have been that way. Too much dreaming; not enough evidence.

Perhaps there is some formula to it, like laws of physics, that increases the likelihood of success. For now, I'm left with a greater understanding of myself; the courage of conviction to understand that I did nothing but love, and the faith to believe that, ultimately, nothing is lost in loving. Someday it'll all make sense. Today, it still hurts. Time heals all wounds. These are the laws of physics:

laws of physics
Tim'm T. West for Red Dirt Publishing 2008

the weight of this loss
if almost, but not quite
the real thing
is coequal
to the weight of my surrender
if a decoy of the alpha particle
the nucleus around which I created
a universe, a "life"
if an axis
an imaginary line on which I grounded
belief in a good God
and these
are reason enough
to not
"just get over it".
there is no direct proportion
in this aftermath
every day
since he stopped wanting to want
the life I believed we once imagined
I have loved him

have you ever said goodbye
to hundreds of people who loved you
because you loved someone
enough to say goodbye to many
as surely as you were prepared to say
"I do", to one?
burden the car
with the mass of
things that matter
books, pictures, music
the uncertainty of forever
a test of good faith
the scent from his last visit
the impressions left
that shortened the distance
between time and space
the echo of
Oleta Adams' "Get Here".
or Sade's "Kiss of Life".

the dream remains
love, a centripetal force
affecting good sense
like an eye
over the hurricane
is something meant to be
and not
those who, like me,
choose to weather such storms
pick up the remains
and make do
but we do not flee

some things
some people
are just made that way
to not
"just get over it"
can a raisin in the sun
become wine?

those who have never
loved like this
who've never felt
the crest of surrender
in the pit of their stomachs
who guard, calculate, caution
the heart's trajectory
they more easily walk away
they "just get over it"
but none of them have loved
with the surrender
if careless
that I have
with the intention
of trusting a catch
in the fall
and none of them
have gotten back up
bruised, broken, and disoriented
for accelerating
for the cumulative perfecting of faith
so many who worship God
do not trust God
as I have
the Christians tell me
of someone who loved like this
I think I know him better
than they
understand that path
if not moved by pulpits
evangelical pageantry
or gospel about him

this forget me knot
in my stomach
is far too familiar
with waking for the love of him
moments to the year
to deny the force
of all the beautiful lies
the amplitude of
this heart's oscillation
like a pendulum swing
pushed by the smile of him
so I will take
all the damn time I need
to achieve balance
I will own
all the love I still feel
because I don't believe
in lying to myself
to save face
appear hardened and unbothered
if unable to cry anymore

and someday
the force of gravitation
will not be as thick as
the escape velocity
the desire to love again
and be loved well
by somebody, I believe, loves like me
Is the inevitability of hope
so I will try
as surely as I do now.
this is how I'm made
I am a man of God
these are laws of physics