I think I can count on one hand (plus maybe one finger, perhaps even two, three at a stretch) the number of people I have actually fallen in love with. This surprises me, because I think not all the hairs I now have on my head and in my beard combined would suffice to account for the number of people I think I have fallen in love with. There is, as always, a margin of error, but it is nowhere near as wide as one might imagine:
Benjamin (First and Most Deeply). Stefan. Janey (Somewhat, and More Than Seems Likely). The Man Whose Name I Can’t Remember Who Stage Managed One of the Tours I Was on (Though I’m Not Sure How That Even Happened Because The Moment I Fell Out of Love With Him I Wondered What Did I Ever See in Him and Wrote a Song to That Effect). Willow (Of Course, and Still Am a Bit and He Knows it). Probably JayJay. Certainly Dominic. A Little Bit Edward. And Indeed Moritz. Actually that brings me up to nine. But already I’d need to qualify. Was I really in love with Stefan? Or was I just blown away by how beautiful, charming and unimaginably cute he was?
There are many, many more I have at some point been a little in love with and still am, to a level where it nearly registers, sometimes a bit more, then back to a bit less. And there are many, many whom I simply love. Roundly, completely, for who they are. And there are borderline cases. Michael, at school. Was I in love with him, or did I ‘just’ love him, as I most certainly did. And before him the English boy who came to our school in Basel on some exchange programme. He is almost certainly the first person I ever had a genuine crush on. I was maybe eleven or twelve and he’d arrived into one year below or above, I believe, and I was so smitten that I bought him an ice cream. That was all: on our way to school there was a kiosk where everybody bought their sweets and although he wasn’t in my year and we hadn’t been introduced and I didn’t know his name, I felt simply compelled to let him know that I liked him and so I bought him an ice cream. I gave it to him and he smiled and said thank you, and I don’t remember ever saying another word to him, but to this day it makes me happy to remember the moment he smiled at me, a little surprised, but friendly and gracious in a way I had never seen anybody smile before and have rarely seen anyone since: the smile of innocence and recognition.
I realise this is something I should ask myself. Something that maybe could help me today. I could learn maybe something from George. That makes sense. Much more, in fact, than the idea that he could learn anything from me. I could perhaps learn from him how he did that. How he set up a pattern that to this day I haven’t got out of: he’s much closer to it, he’s in the process of doing it now: what is going on in his head, what, more to the point, in his heart? Obviously I can’t phrase my question that way, I obviously have to go about it smidgeonwise more dextrously.
But if I played this one right I might actually gain some insight…