Love and the Oblivious Cam

Plus questions with Jim Behrle

Hi, I’m Edith, and this is a newsletter with links, personal writing, and comics. And, today, a Q&A with Jim Behrle. We’d love to know what you think; please feel free to reply to this email!

February 13, 2020

Q&A Section: A few weeks ago I asked readers of this newsletter if they had any questions for me or for someone I might pass questions along to. I got some good ones and sent them to my friend Jim Behrle, who used to write great stuff for The Awl and The Hairpin. He answered a couple last week, and here are a few more.

  1. What is love, when everlasting love (or, love of one's adult life, 12 years) is just gone one day? Like, gone, gone.

JB: The first time I was in love it was with my friend Harumi. We were in first grade. She was my best friend. We decided to get married out in the woods after school. We decided our last name was going to be Spiderman and Spiderwoman. Everything was perfect. We're still married and we have 20 Spiderchildren.

Just kidding! She moved to Ohio when I was seven, and I don't think my heart ever recovered. I wrote to her a few times and heard back a few times. I guess I moved on, but did I? She was the funnest, best person I've ever met. I've never met anyone like her, ever. And I've never recaptured that feeling with anyone. I've never forgiven the state of Ohio.

I don't know what love is. I don't know that I've ever been in love, at least with anyone that was in love with me at the same time. After it's over, I always think like, “Was I in love with that person?” I've always focused on the first parts of love: lust, flirting, having a crush, writing poems about the crush, signing my signature over and over again when I take the crush's last name after we're married. Jim Gyllenhaal. James A. Gyllenhaal. Jimmy Gyllenhaal. Over and over again. But real love? Ride or die? Everlasting love? I have no idea about this. I have no idea where it comes from and I don't know where it goes. Cherish it for as long as you have it and feel sure about it. Enjoy it! If it lasts two years, great. If it's 10 years, OK! If it's five minutes, enjoy those five minutes. Being in love is one of the best parts of being alive. And we'll have a long, long time to miss that feeling.

I'm sorry that your love is gone-gone. That sucks. Time helps. Bad feelings do fade, like good ones. It just seems to take forever. And what you want from people will change. I wanted forever for people to understand me. But now I think I want people to accept me, even if they don't understand. I used to want things to be passionate all the time. But now I think I want affection. You just don't know how far from what you think you want from people you will get until you get there. There are a lot of people out there, and we're capable of healing. Our hearts are tough. They do bounce back. It sounds simplistic and stupid. And maybe it is. But I think it's true.

What should you do in the meantime? I honestly have no idea. But you're in the same position as many of us: between love partners. This can be a lonely time of year with Valentine's Day and all. But candy is great. Eat lots and lots of candy. Candy is a good substitute for love. Love leaves, but candy will never leave. It goes on sale for like half-off the day after Valentine's Day. I mean, it is the weird leftover candy. But candy. And also candy. Jim Candy. James Anthony Matthias Candy. James Candy, Esq. 

  1. Is life this hard for everyone else?

JB: Yes. Life is unspeakably hard for everyone. And even harder for some people. The people who life seems easy for? It is hard for them. And then everyone's dead for a very long time. No one dead is complaining. But it's probably hard for them, too. Imagine when you die you awaken to find you still have to go to work and your parents are still driving you nuts. Oh, man.

  1. What does it mean that I want a baby, when I never wanted a baby before? Note that I’d need to have a baby pretty soon, and my late partner never wanted a baby. Also, I've done a lot of non-baby fun things.

JB: Tell me about it. I almost bought a fanny pack last week. It was on sale. And I was like, oh, a fanny pack, that would be a funny thing to buy. But also useful? I wanted it both ironically and unironically. It made complete sense and was also a complete repudiation of the life I had created for myself. Humans are weird pretzels of contradictions. Given enough time you'll be like, “Hmm, Mike Bloomberg for President. Sure, why the hell not.”

Sorry about your late partner. It's good that you've done a lot of non-baby fun things! I think having a baby can be a fun (if exhausting) thing. Lots of people have babies. If it wasn't a fun thing to do, I think people would have stopped having them long ago. And you'll have great stories to tell your baby about all the non-baby fun things you did before they came around. You have to keep babies in their place or they grow up to work in Hedge Funds. 

My brother and his wife had a baby recently. It's a lot of work. But the kid seems pretty fun. Babies smell good sometimes. And they sometimes do cute things. And they grow up very quickly, so enjoy the cute stuff for as long as it lasts. You should trust yourself when you feel like you want something, especially when it's something you've never wanted before. All we have are these bodies. They are all we have to go on. And if you want something in this world, you ought to go try and get it, no matter the obstacles.

Except becoming President. That is a weird thing only completely weird people want. But if you have love to give, then give it.