I collect stories about love, sometimes secretly and sometimes not so secretly, keeping them stashed on the internet, in emails and in letters, hidden quietly in the damp folds of my brain. Old people in love, love that has conquered distance and time and space and science, love that forgives flaws and sees past injuries or illnesses, that brings the people experiencing it somewhere altogether new. I want to know your engagement story or about the time you knew that they were the one for you, about the surprise puppy they gave you or when they showed up at the airport just when you had given up hope. Greedy, I keep it all, balled up in the palms of my hands, warm and smelling softly of possibility and dusty pressed flowers and smiles folded up in handkerchiefs and kept for rainy days in the backs of drawers.
I am not what anyone would call lucky in love, not in that way, and the older I get the more I feel that there are only a few steps between remaining open to opportunity and giving up entirely. How many times do you let things go wrong before you accept the possibility that they might not ever go right, that not everyone gets the good things that they may or may not even really deserve? Giving up feels wrong, opposite to the whole spirit of my sometimes forced belief that life is magic, but at the same time it seems like the easier way to go. And so to stave off the voice that tells me to just give in and buy five cats, already, I collect evidence, showing that voice that sometimes something goes just right, in the tiniest and most significant of ways. That believing in love is not silly, even if it sometimes feels like it is.
I read an article, months ago, by a guy named Alexander Chee who took a writing class from Annie Dillard. In the class she would have them cut out their best sentences and tape them on a blank piece of paper, and then write around them--to make everything else they wrote just as good as the best parts. I have slowly come to realize that this is what I'm doing with collecting all of your love stories--I'm building a scaffolding from which to someday write my own, becoming aware of the best of everything else so that I know where to stretch with the best of my own. So that someone might someday collect my story too.