One night, desperately sad and crying over the boy who said he’d love me forever but abandoned me in ICU, I picked up Steinbeck’s book of letters. The first page I turned to so lovingly captured the letter he wrote his son Thom who asked for help with a girl he’d fallen for. He shared what he had learned in love: Love is the best that can happen to a person he wrote. And I say, tell the world I love you. Say it too much. Say it too fast. Say it to the wrong people, so you can say it to the right ones. Say it until someone hears you. Be irresponsible. Have sex on the first date! Be a slut for love. Love too deeply. Be too romantic. Hug someone who doesn’t deserve a hug. Hug a stranger, and let them defeat a tender place in your heart for they are without sin in your world. Give in to puppy love. Love is fever-induced delirium and sleepless, heartaching nights. Love will trigger psychosis and put you in the psych ward with miserable, crazy characters. She offers freedom but takes your life. Love until the pain overpowers you, and the aching, the burning, brings you to your knees. El amor te decepiona but you don’t give up esperanza. She is the Geisha and love is her sword that impales you. Love beats the shit of you and you ask for more! Love is the devil who guards his fallen angels at the gates of hell, then She escorts you across the River Styx. Kill for love! But She wants to kill you first and can literally make the muscles of your beating heart stop. Our lungs can neither breathe with Her nor without Her. Without Love, you’ve been dead but Love can resuscitate even with the instructions DNR. Stand in front of the firing squash and think of the day your father took you to “discover ice.” Live for love! Love is a music box, wound up tightly and played ‘til there’s nothing left. Love until the very end, and when the music stops, even then, don’t stop. Love is a hard bugger poking your nostrils but dissolves the moment of contact. She’s the same bugger a child eats in front of someone without shame, and that moment ends in silence. Love until you’re exhausted, for the reason that it takes more energy to love than it does not to. Love is a secret “surrounded by a thousand dreams.” Love is dangerous. Love is risky. Risk it all, and never enjoy comfort. Love is a child playing with a loaded gun in a world that doesn’t lock up the fire arms. Love is a country with the right to bare arms but women don’t have the right to vote. Love is a sleeping dog at the foot of your bed, leaving a warm place for your feet. Love’s sovereign territory and you don’t belong. Cut off your ear for love because it’s too heavy on your “unbearable lightness of being.” Go to Paris for love. Stay here for love because She’s always been in front of you. Find love, lose love and find it again since it was always there. Love empties into the Caribbean. Love is the mother fucking czar of the Silk Road; pay your taxes or give up your first born. Love is home in no man’s land. Love is the Trail of Tears and you are the one who survived genocide. Love now because you may not exist the next moment. Love is viral and cancerous and spreads to the lymph nodes, and besides, if you live long enough you die of cancer. Die fighting for Love, at Her side. Love is a war that you will never win. Love protects the city from pirates within Her wall but She is the pirates themselves. Bleed for love and nothing else. She’s a vampire who will suck your veins dry but you’d rather give up your warm heart and take on cold thirst for blood. Love is the sun that makes you sweat, even when you’re cold but the coastal winter winds dry the sweat, and the tears. Love is Aunt Elomi’s fried rice, chocolate chip oatmeal cookies and sweet tea, just Southern enough. Love is lonely, and answers to no one, especially not you, or me. Love seems to have little purpose because She is all questions and no answers. Lead with your chin but there’s no use. Love isn’t patient, nor is She kind; She’s jealous and possessive. Love is obsessive compulsive; let Her consume you. Love burns you up like a cigarette, and the person who set fire to you, stubs you out just as quickly as he lit you up. Love anyways. Love will incinerate you, so go up in flames. Love until you are reduced to ashes and the “embers grow cold.” Love is nothing more than a funeral pyre for an adulterous woman who submitted to romance. Love turns everything to gold which is what you wanted but it ends you. Love is a golden idle that you worship, overthrown by Jesus. Love lies within the sex workers, who trade money for love, with whom he surrounded himself. Jesus loved the lepers and the hookers, why can’t you? Love is a semi with no speed limit running a red light when you have right of way. Love makes us forget, not regret. Love is man and Wife. Love is immortal. Love is virtue. Love shatters you like mirror mirror on the wall. It can’t conform to all the bullshit rules adults think are important. Love existed before time, before the universe, before the galaxies, before the Big Bang… Be the eponymous character of your own story with Love. Let Her go. Just let go what’s not yours, and fear not, for we cannot lose something that never belonged to us.
 Gabriel Garcia Marquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude
 Milan Kundera, Unbearable Lightness of Being
 “Gilded Cage” by Blackmore