What Is Love #1

A Thing You Do Alone

Carvell Wallace

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I am trying to make some sense of the act of being alive and I can’t seem to. Maybe the trying is the problem. I have the gnawing feeling that it has something to do with love, but what in fact is love?

I was about twelve years old when it dawned on me that the only person in the world who is always with you is… you. This revelation made it feel like I was gaining insight into a secret of the universe. No one told me this. I just figured it out on my own. I was incredibly proud of myself because it was true and undeniable and was the exact opposite of what every TV show, movie, song, and bedtime story had suggested. The realization felt like the beginning of my life.

I should say that this realization came to me in the moments after I learned that the couple who were temporary taking care of me were getting a divorce from one another. Which was itself a few years after my mother left me with this couple — her brother and his wife — while she moved three thousand miles away to start her life all over again in a better way, a way that didn’t involve me. It was also a few more years after my mother and I went through bouts of hunger and homelessness and violence and sexual assault separately and together, and even a few more years after she came to get me from where she had left me another time few years before that with another of her siblings while she went a few hundred miles away to start her life all over again in a better way, a way that didn’t involve me. By the time I was 12 I had already had a lot of years.

Looking in the bathroom mirror seconds after hearing this news about this family breaking up and trying to make sense of how I had even let myself believe that I would be stable here when I had never been stable anywhere, the realization about being alone felt like a gift from God, as if God Godself was looking down on me like “aw jeez, this kid is really going through it. Tell you what… I’ll let him in on just this ONE secret of the universe just to help him navigate. I’ll open up his vision for ONE moment.”

And God did. And what I saw was “The Only Person Who Is Always With You is You” It was encased in gold and white light, like light from the stars, light from the origins of the Universe. And even in the moment — sad and shocking as it was — I celebrated a little because I knew right away that I had won some kind of knowledge lottery. I didn’t have to worry about anything anymore. I had been given the truth: No one is ever truly there.

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Carvell Wallace

This is where I experiment. This is where I learn to write.