Following Love

Gay marriage has been much in the news lately, what with my own Washington State getting ready, it would appear, to legalize same sex marriage, and a California court ruling Proposition 8 to be unconstitutional. I suspect gay marriage will continue to be in the news for the next decade or so, at which point, I would be willing to bet, it will be legal in all fifty states, give or take. I say this not as a legal authority but as an optimist who believes that in matters of love, despite all circumstantial evidence to the contrary, humanity ultimately travels in only one direction. But I can understand some people’s opposition to these unions. After all, it is largely impossible to know why one person loves another. It is perhaps easier for me, married now for almost twenty years, to understand what my brother means when he says he loves his girlfriend – but this knowing is only a matter of degrees. In this way, when one person says to another person, “I love her,” or, “I love him,” no matter the her or him in question, that declaration’s truthfulness can be known only through trust, never facts.

Though it sounds odd, whenever I read about this debate I am reminded of writers. Sometimes within the writing community I hear a kind of bias for or against one type of story, as if a writer were choosing to write literary fiction only to satisfy his ego’s need for praise, or another writer were choosing to write thrillers to assure her place atop the bestseller list. No such writer is experiencing any success. These marriages of writers to genres stand the same chance of success as would Ellen Degeneres’ marriage to me.

This is because although we can choose to write anything we want, the same as we can choose to sleep with anyone who’ll have us, what we love and whom we love chooses us, not the other way around. There are plenty of days, I’m sure, when we wish this weren’t so. There are plenty of days we might wish that We, the We that chooses whether to follow or not to follow where Love points us, could steer not just the ship but the river. But it is not to be. Every captain is a passenger as well, born by the current he chose to follow behind his wheel.

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