The Episode: Season 5 (yeah, it’s the only one I could get my hands on), Episode 1
The Question: How many great loves can you have in one lifetime?
Ok admittedly, this episode was a bit of a mess. The central question wasn’t clear… something about ‘have we missed the boat’? But the question I’ve cited is a darned sight more interesting and it runs through the episode so I’ve decided this will be it.
Charlotte says two (she read this somewhere, though it was pointed out to her that when she met her first husband she had said that there could only be ‘one’ great love). The sailor Carrie meets says ‘one if you’re lucky’.
Both answers are interesting. Because haven’t we all been been brought up to believe in The One. The Two somehow doesn’t ring quite that bell. And the idea that there may be none at all is, well, disappointing.
I’ve always wondered how to characterise my loves. There have been three of some import:
1) The A: He was my first love and also the first, and probably only, man I completely and wholly trusted. Yes, he was completely unsuitable and we were destined to fail but we beat the odds for a very long time. He was deeply deeply deeply in love with me and it’s hard not to be equally deeply in love with someone that’s that deeply in love you. It’s a heady feeling being 17 and adored and then inevitably, the tables are turned and you’re playing Astrophel and he, Stella (go look up Elizabethan courtly love – I’m reading Tudor fiction right now).
So, by virtue of being the first, both emotionally and physically, he could rightly be the great love.
2) The Em: This was a relatively short thing and only once in the six months (by a stretch) that it lasted was the L word ever used. But god, it was passionate. I literally saw the clouds part and the sun shine through and John Donne ran through my mind:
Thou, Sun, art half as happy as we,
In that the world’s contracted thus ;
Thine age asks ease, and since thy duties be
To warm the world, that’s done in warming us.
Shine here to us, and thou art everywhere ;
This bed thy center is, these walls thy sphere.*
When I think of him, I still think how beautiful he was. I still smile even though it wasn’t all that rosy. I still remember the euphoria of drowning in green.
3) V: The calm and the storm at the same time. The feeling of being completely at peace and yet completely shaken. Of the madly and the deeply but also of finally, the ‘yes’.
If there were two great loves, then V would definitely be one of them. But what if there were only one. Who would it be? Given that, as Miranda says, you don’t have to marry the great love of your life.
Curly once told me that The EM was my Rhett Butler. He was the person I stamped and went crazy for. “V would never say to you ‘frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn’. I’m not so sure. I am no longer a person who can believe that other people may not one day not give a damn.
If it’s a contest between V and Em, I’m tending towards V. Simply because through all my madness with Em, I always maintained he was not the one I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. V got me worked up and still I wanted to stay.
But that’s assuming there can be only ONE great love. What do you think?
* Since we’re doing poems, I remember reading The A this one:
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach
The utter cynic that I was, I thought long and hard before deciding to make this poem ‘our’ poem because I had a feeling he might not be The One and did I want to waste my favourite love poem of all times of anything short of that. But in the end I took his hand and read it and meant it, and the most touching part was – he actually got it. He didn’t get all the words but he got how important it was that I was saying them to him.
And when I think of V, my poem is:
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;
which growshigher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)