Denis (with his PhD in Literature from Notre Dame and his dissertation on Samuel Beckett and his [subtly] dyed hair) and I wandered around the campus one damp morning. I was in love with Denis. Denis was infatuated with Rebecca. Rebecca was NOT interested in Denis. By then, I had had my heart broken and was pulling away. I would fall out of love with Denis (for good) and a great friendship would grow out of the rubble. I’d fallen in love with him from liking him. The liking wouldn’t stop just because of Rebecca — whom I recognized as the Dave Matthews Band to Denis’ Beatles. It wasn’t going to happen.
That day all this had not happened yet. Denis had just said, “But Martha. I YEARN.”
Half a dozen years later Denis fell in love with me, but when he said, “I love you,” I didn’t hear anything I didn’t already know. Of course we loved each other. We were friends.
Longing. Yearning. This boy, that boy, this man, that man, this dream, that dream, ideal followed on ideal, romantic smokescreen and illusion. A shadow show.
One Sunday morning we were walking on the beach from Pacific to Mission Beach, and Denis said, “I went to a therapist for a while. He said, ‘It’s going to be difficult for you to find love, I’m afraid. It’s never easy for very intelligent people’. What do you think, Gus? You’re also a very intelligent person. It hasn’t been easy for you.” (Gus was my nickname.)
I thought about it for a little bit. It was an interesting question and one I hadn’t thought of, ever. The whole “luv” thing had never gone well for me. Was this partly WHY?
“Maybe,” I said. “Maybe we’ve just read too much poetry.”
What I meant was perhaps Denis and I were both in love with longing, the unattainable beauty in the high tower. Perhaps, to us, this poem was too beautiful, and evoked too much of what we truly wanted, whatever we told ourselves, whatever we told each other.
William Butler Yeats