“I don’t want to see you anymore. I don’t love you,” he said. I hung up the phone to the sound of an intruder pounding at my door, which was actually my heart. My chest thudded with all the ways I have been unlovable, will always be unlovable. The room was still and I heard a squawking flock of wayward birds high above my house, no doubt lost on their journey south. “Alone,” they cried. “Alone!” Alone! Alone!”
God is dead. I believe that there is some force in the universe greater than us which unites us, but the existence of a divine creator who gave us the world, and sustains it with his love, is a delusion. If God is alive, why has no one ever seen him? As they say, pics or it didn’t happen.
Richard Dawkins claimed belief in God is a “virus of the mind” and it is no more evident than when a predatory virus of the body claws through the world unchecked. We are pivoting to a new normal. Societal disparities are glaring as some are rendered homeless, while others stand on social distance markers at the Mercedes dealership. Love in the time of Covid is less about connection and community and more about Amazon prime, a roomy house and a 30-pack of Charmin.
With so much free time, how can one accomplish anything meaningful?
But there is tequila and weed and transcendent sex and men who make you feel like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, minus the part where she’s a hooker, although all relationships are transactional in nature; it’s been proven that men who help with the housework get more sex hashtag #choreplay. There is the regal feeling of being helped out of a car and dreamy mid-afternoon naps and laughter and Netflix and cuddling and motorcycle rides and idyllic afternoons on a boat.
But that is not love.
Love is a vast, mysterious ocean that inexplicably swells and subsides. I wish I could say I disdainfully quoted Lizzo lyrics to him and hung up, but being told I was unloved dissolved the protective steel cage around my heart. A cacophony of voices rang through the night, bombarding me with stories of profound loss and rape and neglect and abandonment, stories that proved my unlovability and I might have mistaken the stabbing pains in my chest for cardiac arrest had I not known the familiar symptoms of a panic attack.
I considered going to the hospital to quiet the pain with a tranquilizer drip, but the emergency room is not an option when God is dead and there’s a global pandemic. I could not bring myself to look into the face of an exhausted, overwhelmed ER doctor draped in personal protective equipment and tell him, “I am here because I am unlovable, because God is dead and I am scared, and by the way, are you single?”
Nietzche pronounced God dead on arrival. As did Hegel, Schopenhauer, Kant. Victor Hugo said “God is dead, perhaps” in Les Miserables, which despite being the world’s longest running musical, questions the existence of God, which challenges the reality of love, for which I have no definitive proof as I’ve been known to stay in a relationship simply because the man had tickets to Hamilton.
Philosophers deny the existence of God, scientists deny the existence of love, renowned psychiatrists blame everything on sex and our genitalia. God, sex, love and death. God is the presence of love, sex is the opposite of death, and everything is “on account mother had narrow vagine,” according to Freud, or maybe that was Borat, but still.
“Does he know how funny and smart and cool you are?” my best friend asked when we first started dating. But cool is not currency. End-of-days currency is food, bullets and sex, none of which are love. I was only a five-month pit stop; a red-headed lusty oasis in a desert of dehydrated blond Republicans. I was not to be taken seriously. I knew that immediately upon seeing pictures of his last girlfriend, a beautiful, sexless blonde Golden Girl, the picture of stylish Upper East side alimony in impeccable Chanel suit and sensible designer shoes. He regularly reminded me how much money he had spent on his ice queen, buying her extravagant designer purses in which she delicately carried his balls.
What on earth was he doing with a neurotic New York Jew sporting tattoos and a sordid past; a writer, a dreamer, potty-mouthed and unfiltered, ready to start a revolution if only she could find a clean bra, one of those women still trapped in her favorite decade of music (the 90’s), clad in leather leggings and thigh-high boots?
Love is a mysterious monolith and perverse in its inexplicability; he had proposed to his most recent ex despite the fact that she was unkind and demeaning, and that her favorite part of his body was his wallet. Maybe it was because she threw cozy dinner parties for the local chapter of the NRA, hobnobbed with other uptight rich people, shopped at Saks, wintered in Florida, acted like summer and walked like rain. Someone remind her that there’s time to change, hey he-y-y-y-y-y-y-y-y.
My dentist, who unofficially doubles as my shrink, asked, “Did you want to grow old with him?” and I resisted the urge to smarmily answer that at 10 years my senior, he was already there. Instead, I shrugged helplessly. I can only say I was magnetized to his tall strong body and spending time with him was the highlight of my week, but is that love? I have no clue and was suddenly stingingly jealous of this man’s absolute certainty of what love feels like and that he did not feel it for me.
COVID 19 is undoubtedly the Angel of Death, proof of God’s demise. So is people refusing to wear masks in viral hotspots, and racist YouTubers getting rich off of teary eyed apology videos, or maybe God is just a dick. And storybook love is something we’re brainwashed into believing during the halftime show at the Superbowl.
Scientists know that love is an explosion of chemicals in the brain, stimulating hormones and creating euphoria. But to be in love is the willingness to want to be in love, and despite all that activity in the limbic systems of our frontal lobes, he was not in love with me because he did not choose me.
Love does exist. For me, soulmate love is an ocean too big and mysterious to contain, so I hold a small part of it in my pocket and call it joy. Love exists because something keeps me luminous, and aside from my ten-step Korean skincare routine and all of the men who in this most absurd of times keep texting me for dinner dates (God may be dead but you gotta eat, right?), something keeps me in the light and it might just be that I passionately love myself.
And God is not dead; perhaps, it is only that we have stopped believing in Him, or even more likely, He has stopped believing in us.
How are you all holding up in this crazy time?
Talk to me. I’m listening.