All you need is love

Originally the title for this post was going to be “there’s been so many/girls that I’ve known” in reference to a Rolling Stones song, but I didn’t want to begin with a disrespectful or bragging tone.  That is not the meaning of this post.
Girls have always played a major role in my life and, naturally, so has love.  While this brief post does not mention nearly enough of those females it is meant as a general thank you to all of them.

One of my earliest memories is when my parents and I were moving from our first neighborhood in Upper Darby, PA. I was only four or so, but I remember the neighborhood kids, most of them girls at least twice my age, coming out to say farewell. Some even laid a last gentle kiss on my tiny cheek as I was placed securely in my car seat. “Mrs. Crowley, please bring him back to see us.” I remember us pulling away and my mother commenting on “all my little girlfriends.”  From then on I related a feeling, a pride and happiness, a security, towards girls.

Don’t get me wrong, I do not plan on sitting here and telling you what an angel I’ve been to the fairer sex over the past years. That would not work. First, my wife is also my editor and she will call bullshit on it; and, I have some ex-girlfriends who read this blog and surely would have a “day of rage” in my comment box. No, I, like all, have not always had proper regard for others’ feelings. That said, I’ve always felt a special kinship to the female species and find a great reward in their companionship both as friends and, in the past, as pillow mates.

There have been so many girls that I’ve known, and, collectively, they have made me who I am. From my first kiss in third grade behind Kelly Tyne’s house with Dawn Amey, to my partners in crime in college and the cocktail beauties of the coast, these girls have influenced me to feel a wide spectrum of emotions.

My mom was a Philadelphia public school teacher, single mother of three, and was diagnosed in the early 80’s with multiple sclerosis. As a child, I spent a lot of time watching her sacrifice herself, her needs, and her life for us children.  We were left with little after my father abandoned us. Now that I am grown, I can only begin to realize how scared she must have been, how with few places to turn she realized that the raising of three kids was left completely to her, alone. My father, in the beginning, had a good knack for manipulating the reality of the situation.  He turned many against her and did what he could to make it hard.  I think he paid something crazy like $60.00 a month per child in child support.  Plus, my mother had to continuously take him back to court for this money.  All the while, I was turning into the biggest pain in the ass.  Still, my mom pushed forward. With work,  sport practices, court dates, groceries, she was without support.  The thing about her that I love the most is that she kept smiling.  She took her lot, knowing that her adult life, at least the next fifteen years, were going to be completely dedicated to her children, and still she smiled.  She talked to everyone, which used to embarrass me.  No matter where we went she would leave with five new friends.  Now, when I catch myself talking to the lady in front of me at Quiznos about how the new bread is delicious, I have to smile. My heart warms knowing my mom’s influence is in me.

Times were very tough though, and I used to find her crying in the kitchen at night.  When I would ask her why she was crying, she would tell me she just wanted an adult to talk to every once in a while, someone to share the pain and triumphs of life with.  I did not understand at that age, but as I write this, my heart breaks for her.

Beginning to sail my ship

Aristotle and Alexander

Money was tight, so my mom decided to get her masters degree at night.  We needed baby sitters and asked some neighborhood girls. There were three sisters, the Worrells, who would come regularly. These girls were in high school and were already beginning to get into trouble. They were tough, sexy, the heavy metal type, but in my neighborhood the picking was slim. I was in love with them all and they doted on me. After my younger brother and sister were sent to bed, they would let me stay up and here began my training of how to be a gentleman.  Always hold a door for a girl, they would say, and never get zits on your back. As Aristotle tutored Alexander the Great, these girls tutored me and began to build my confidence.

As the girls got older they started to have people over to the house while they babysat. They had a cute blond friend named Bonnie who was one of my first crushes. I loved her as much as a eight year old could. She would brush my growing hair as they all sat and talked and she made me one of those “freindship” bracelets, which I wore until I was about 15.

I learned how to be funny to impress her, learned how to be daring, again to impress her. I was learning charm. In my little mind, we would be married in no time. One summer night, after I had been forced to go to bed, I went to see if I could listen at the top of the stairs to the girls below. No sound. I timidly crept down to the first floor. Still nothing. After looking around I realized the girls were out front on the street talking to some boys. I remember sitting there with my cat Ringo and watching as these unknowing thespians created my first tragedy. The windows were open and I sat close to the screens.  I could hear the faint giggles pushing towards me through the heavy summer night. An unknown tempest struck up inside me. I petted Ringo soothingly while my heart raged. Some guy was leaning against a car and Bonnie was leaning against him. There was some flirting and then…There was a French kiss! (I could tell there was tongue due the length of the kiss and the movement in their cheeks.) I was broken.  All the wind sucked out of me and I couldn’t breathe. Tiny tears dropped onto Ringo who had become hot under my sweaty hands. I had learned heartache.

A year or so later another great lesson was learned. I was in sixth grade and I gave my babysitter, who was in eighth, a hickey. The next day, her dad showed up at my house with a baseball bat. He was pretty pissed that I was kissing his daughter’s neck and he scared the living shit out of me! Connie, if you are reading this, I still am scared of your dad.

(Yes, I just realized both girls’ names thus far in my story rhyme.)

The beauty of girls is what first attracts me, but the sincerity, compassion and selflessness is what always keeps me. My wife always says that the way I can find beauty in every girl has always attracted her to me. All sexuality aside, I think most would agree that there is just more beauty in females, from the smell of their hair as they walk by, to the thinness of their fingers and the fragrance in their laughter.  I also think that due to my father leaving, my subconscious just trusts girls more.

As I have said before, I am both a sentimentalist and a romantic. I was dubbed the “Pony Boy” of my neighborhood group and always relished in the fact that I had many female friends and was not a “typical” guy. I always felt like I’ve been extremely lucky to have such beautiful girls in my life both as friends and kissing partners.  Many of them meant so much to me and still do.  The thing about love, whether romantic or friendly, is that it never completely goes away.  This is okay, and should be kept somewhere safe in your heart. I feel like my closeness with girls taught me to feel things more intensely. This was both good and bad. My childhood friends have joked that I would fall in love weekly and I have been scolded by an angry girlfriend or two that I am in love with being in love.  If you are going to love, love passionately. What is the world without passion? To be able to see, feel the world, live the world like this makes it so much more rewarding for me.  The girlfriends and friends who are girls that I have been lucky enough to have had through my life, have all been essential to the passionate person, the loving person, that I am. Each one has made me appreciate the whole gender more.

People ask me when I knew Katherine was the one, and once again, due to my hyper sense of emotional awareness, I actually remember exactly. We had been dating a year and were now traveling around Italy for five weeks in the summer of 2006. We were coming over the Apennines Mountains on our way from the tiny village of Ravenna. We had misjudged the distance of our day’s drive and now found ourselves slowly climbing through the mountains and on some pretty scary roads. Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day” started to play and it was the only “American” music we had heard for hours.

I had never heard the song before. The day was hot and as we crawled higher up the mountain you could smell an earlier rain coming off the black top. The words soon fit with curves of the road and the trees that covered the earth were moist with dew.  By the time we reached the top, we were covered in a cloud and all there was in the world was us, our rented Alfa Romeo and Lou Reed’s voice.  Katherine had a little jean skirt on with a tank top. I don’t know if it was her, Italy, or the top of that mountain but I felt like I had made it.  I was safe. All of my “training,” all of my trials and errors, happiness and tears, all of the insecurity and uncertainty was behind me.  All of my past loves, past pain, led to this mountain, this girl. I looked at her and she smiled.
She held my hand softly as we started to descend. I knew then that I would love her.

you just keep me hanging on


2 Responses to “All you need is love”

  1. 1 Amanda
    April 11, 2011 at 10:22 am

    This literally has me in tears! Great post, Mike. All guys should learn a little from you and the world would be a better place. I never realized you were such a romantic 🙂


  2. 2 Krissy
    April 11, 2011 at 6:50 pm

    Another beautiful narrative of your life. I hope you’re writing a book!

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