~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~I admit, a few weeks ago I saw Brad’s title post was ‘Jealousy and Self Awareness’ and I thought, ‘Oh no! Not them.’
The Power of Young Love
The Power of Young Love
I was a little surprised I had a strong reaction.
All relationships experience some form of jealousy, conflict, and pain. It’s part of being in relationship: discovering rough spots within each other and calling on love to work through these issues. Together, you soften confused hurt feelings, massaging each other back to the place of relaxed, warm love. So, why did my stomach involuntarily clench that something had gone wrong between our two heroes of this blog?I discovered Brad’s jealousy was about Matt’s outgoingness and somehow I sighed with relief. (Brad, I do not mean to diminish what you went through with these feelings - I’m with you. I feel pangs of jealousy when I watch someone so at ease in crowds.)
But my reaction and instant fear for their relationship made me ponder how much I have invested in Two Boys In Love. Why do I care whether they’re happy and together in Boston? They’re both quite adorable, yes, but lots of adorable, young couples exist in the world. Why do I care?And I do care.
I think it’s the love. Their love.Young love.
Of course, they both have interesting insights, big personalities, and I love the daring authenticity I find on this blog. I love men who risk showing up to be their true selves, even if it means saying, “I hurt. I’m confused.” I need men like that in my life for all the times I have difficulty saying, “I’m hurt. I’m confused.”
And yet, it’s more than just their personalities and life situations. Do you think we’d continue to follow this blog if it were titled “Two Middle-Aged Guys In Love?” I don’t think so. While I’m sure we’d all cheer for the middle-aged guys who found big love, somehow it just doesn’t grab us the way young love does.
Why do we root for Matty and Brad the way we do?I have a few theories.
Young love is fragile, beautiful, like a wispy morning glory opening to the new day. Theory #1: We love watching fragile beauty, the delicate beginnings for something exceptional, still shimmering with the dew from a fresh, pink morning. We delight in shy beginnings.However, do not confuse fragility with weakness because young love is strong, stronger than anyone understands, the power and fierceness of that love. Young love harnesses the concrete determination of commitment and turns those strong feelings into hot steel, reshaping the strength into something more flexible, more durable.
Those of us watching this transformation of molten steel love bask in the warm mist of fanned flames, the hot strength of their commitment. I read their stories and remember myself at that age, who I was when I loved that hard, loved with all my love.
How many of us reading Matty and Brad’s blog remember our first love, the first time we said, “I love you” for the first time, terrified and thrilled to mean it, to need to say it, needing our beloved to hear these true words? And perhaps those feelings were shared back and you experienced the meaning of life at that moment – to love and be loved. This person loves me for who I am.Theory #2: We love Matty and Brad because through them we remember. We remember who we used to be at that age. You don’t have to be gay to delight in the affection and vulnerability they feel toward each other. You don’t have to be a man, to appreciate the silky texture of their coming together. Reading the tribulations and successes in their love reminds me of my own.
I remember a New Year’s Eve with my first love. We were both 21. He was an amazing cook, so he puttered around the kitchen chopping and mixing ingredients for our feast and I followed him, hugging him from behind, asking how I could help and commenting on the intoxicating aromas emerging from the oven.I interrupted him frequently to kiss him and squeeze him. He loved to cook and he loved an appreciative audience. I loved his food. We drank our midnight champagne at 7:00 p.m., not to get drunk but to toast each other and our small-apartment love. We called his parents at 9:30 p.m. since they were early-to-bed types, and then we baked chocolate chip cookies. We called my parents at 10:30 p.m. and screamed ‘HAPPY NEW YEAR’ because we were feeling sleepy ourselves and didn’t think we’d make it to midnight. I chatted with my mom while he munched a chocolate chip cookie sprawled across my lap. We were in bed by 11:15 p.m. yawning, but quietly excited to be with someone who didn’t actually need midnight to begin a new year together.
That night, that memory of being cherished and welcomed has a powerful hold in my imagination.
I celebrate young love.
I celebrate young love.
Whether you had it once yourself, enjoy it right now, or never were blessed to hold that ephemeral elixir in your youthful hands, you must understand its power, it’s draw, because you follow this blog. These gents have it. They celebrate it. They appreciate it. Their candor with us is intoxicating and we want to know all the details. Like country townspeople, we watch these young kings ride among us and we titter with pleasure in their love, while wistfully remembering our own days in the sun, holding hands and celebrating the world before us.Do not underestimate the power young love has on our imagination, how young love shaped who we were during powerful, formative years.
I recently released a book titled, King Mai. In it, the main character (Mai) does not realize the impact his first love had on shaping his entire life. He knows it crushed him when the love didn’t last, but he doesn’t understand the impact of that love, what it’s like to lose your love when you think this is ‘the one.’ Young love – first love – for those of us who lost ours – always holds a special place in our hearts. And even if we do not wish to return to those first loves, we still can’t help but secretly delight in others’ young love and through them, we allow ourselves to love again.Theory #3: We believe in love.
Some people watch sports, rooting for their favorite local team and the things they can do with a ball. I’ve never quite understood the appeal of screaming yourself hoarse at professionals who get paid large sums of money to move a ball down a field or through some sort of netting. I guess it’s entertaining. *shrug*But when it comes to love, I delight in standing on the sidelines cheering until I’m hoarse, especially for young lovers, watching them discover themselves, work through the hard stuff, and emerge victorious, scoring their own private touchdowns. The sport of love is the only one I know where to win, you have to make sure the other person in the relationship also feels ‘the win.’ It’s a truly co-operative sport and instead of turning your anger and frustration about the sport into something ugly, you must turn it into something soft and vulnerable and ask the other person to love it, to love you.
I like watching the Matty and Brad sports channel. I like them fighting on the same team, to win a victory each week, each month that they keep turning back to love.I guess whatever the reason, we love reading about their adventures to discover the latest insight, the interesting revelations as they walk together in the world. We want to share those details, remembering and comparing to our own first loves. We want to celebrate Matty and Brad for who they are now and who they might become when their young love transforms into a mighty oak of many years together.
We will sit beneath the shade of that love and pick up acorns, remembering how we knew Matty and Brad way back when….back when Brad took Matty’s hand in public the first time or Matty’s birthday party when they met, mesmerized by each other. We will delight remembering the tentative steps we watched turn into bold strides, the power of their vulnerability with each other and with all of us who read their stories.I was wrong.
I believe I will continue to read their delicate and beautiful stories over the years as this blog gradually becomes ‘Two Middle Aged Guys In Love.’ Something tells me I will find the experience just as beautiful, authentic, and true.Good luck, guys. We’re all rooting for you.
***Edmond Manning is a Minneapolis resident, owner of a rarely-used gym membership, maker of raspberry jam, and the author of King Perry and King Mai. Although Edmond Manning is no longer with his first love, he fondly remembers many beautiful details from that relationship and thinks everyone ought to try falling madly in love at least once.