Thursday, March 6, 2008

Amanda Ford and Kiss Me, I'm Single: An Ode to the Solo Life

How often do you know me to give up the floor twice in one week? Oh my, am I going to spin the Earth of its axis? Amanda Ford is the author of Kiss Me, I'm Single: An Ode to the Solo Life. She's going to share with us her thoughts on love and the lack of guarantees.



Love has no guarantees. I have known this forever. It's a lesson I learned in the womb. It's embryonic understanding. At least that's what I call it. This is the only way I know to describe just how fundamental that statement feels to me. Eat. Breath. Shit. Love has no guarantees. Embryonic understanding.

Sometimes I think I was destined to write a book about being single. If I wasn't destined, then I was certainly shaped, influenced and guided toward the topic since before birth. Just as an unborn child receives nutrients from his mother to build cells, tissues, organs and bones, I imagine that child also absorbs feelings from his mother to construct his emotional landscape.

When my mother was twenty-five, she married her college sweetheart. When he and my mother were twenty-nine, her husband died unexpectedly of a heart attack. His name was Jack. He died before I was born, so I never knew what it felt like to sit next to him on the couch, to watch him cut his steak with a knife and fork, to talk to him about sports or books or the Saturday crossword.

So perhaps you might think it odd when I tell you that I do know intimately, viscerally, what Jack's absence feels like. It feels anxious and sad and uncertain and wrong and hard. Why did Jack die? He was healthy. He was handsome. He was the perfect husband. He would have been the perfect father. It's unfair. I must be a failure. I must be unlovable. God must be punishing me.

You see, just as I inherited my mother's jetting cheekbones and her knotty knuckles, I have also inherited her deepest sorrow, her biggest loss. I inherited the first hand understanding that love offers no guarantees.

My mother married my father in a fog of widowhood. He was a philanderer, and before I was even a year old, she kicked him out of the house. When I was four, my mother fell in love with a man who moved in with us a year later. He loved me like his own. When I was fourteen, this man died of cancer.

When I was eighteen I went away to the same college my mom attended, the same college where she met Jack. I fell in love at that college when I was nineteen. When I was twenty-two, my sweetheart and I married. When I was twenty-four, we filed for divorce.

Perhaps I have inherited my mother's inability to make love conform to conventional standards and follow society's expectations. Love can die even as you swear to hold on for eternity. Love has its own destiny. It gives no guarantees. I know this.

But just as I have inherited my mother's jetting cheekbones, I have also inherited her unyielding conviction that just because love does not go as we expect it, does not mean it has deserted us completely. Just as I have inherited the pain of my mother's biggest losses, I have also inherited her optimism and ability to see love around every bend, even if it doesn't come the expected package. My mother has watched many of her loves die—both literally and figuratively—but she has not let these losses kill her spirit. She is an unyielding romantic. She is creative. She is giving. She loves her work. She watches birds. She taught herself to paint. She places personal ads. She goes on dates. She visits the market. She cooks. She bikes. She laughs. She smiles. She wakes up in the morning. She calls me on the phone. She says, "Oh my sweet daughter! Isn't it a wonderful day? It's a wonderful day. I love this day. You are so sweet. I love you." She loves me. She loves this day. She loves this life. Every ounce of it.

Like my mom, I have watched love crumble before my eyes. I have a failed marriage, many failed relationships, and no father to run to for advice. But I haven't let it bitter me. I keep my spirit sweet. My heart gets broken, I open it wider. I flirt. I play. I dance. I pray. I bike. I breathe. I give thanks for it all. I know that if we are able to take what we have inherited and transform those broken pieces into a masterpiece, then we are truly miracles. I know that love has nothing to do with the circumstances of my past, but that I can remake it anew every day. I know that love has nothing to do with another person, but that love is the condition of my own heart.

Amanda Ford is the author of Kiss Me, I'm Single. You can visit her at, http://www.oholive.com

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2 comments:

rbaldino said...

Amanda,

Your writing is just magnificent! It touches me and makes me think and is just generally all around great and inspiring. Thank you for sharing your wisdom with the world.

Best,

Rachel

Amanda Ford said...

Thanks, Rachel! I appreciate your kind words of support.

And Cheryl, thank you for having me along. You've built a great community here at The Book Connection. It's an honor to be a part of it.

Amanda