A few months ago, given my horrid work environment and the sorry state of my bank account, not to mention the completely hopeless state of dating in SoCal, I received an offer of marriage from the Berliner cousin of my ex. It was to be a marriage of convenience, exchanging citizenships and halving living expenses. We'd met in 2005 in Spain, my ex's native country, and had absolutely adored each other. (I love a gay man with an IQ as high as mine; what can I say?) I was in the mood for adventure--when am I not?--and immediately began plotting ways to get to Europe. I announced my grand plan and every single person I know told me I would die of cold in Berlin. I was ready to risk death at that point, since it seemed a kinder, gentler alternative to my job and to the prospect of dating nothing but cheap, shallow 40 year old adolescents the rest of my life. To help convince myself that my move was the most interesting (if not the wisest) choice for me, I wrote the following piece. While it is not about SoCal per se, it could only have come out of my SoCal experience.
I loved the man in Chicago who wanted kids, and that was never going to work out. After I moved to San Diego, I dated around, and that was never going to work out. I gave up on love, and that was never going to work out. I fell in love by accident, and that was the worst of all. So I tried to think of a place I could hide from love, from even the possibility of love, a place love as I knew it could never exist, nor could even its absence.
Germany! Of course. Land where '"Order Is Right."
Love has no order, therefore it must not live at all in Germany. The chaos of brokenheartedness, the neurotic dullness of denying love's existence, the emotions all must somehow come to peace in Germany.
Clearly the language has a lot to do with it. "Ich liebe dich" sounds more like the command for an execution than a term of endearment. Which, if I allow some poetic license, is exactly what it is. I wanted not to shoot love, kneeling, through the back of its skull, but to wipe my mind clean of the very concept of it. What better way than by speaking of it in a language I had always detested? What better way than by giving the very word itself the sound of a Luger, a Schnauzer, a weinerschnitzel? What better way than by replacing intimacy with images of fetish-crazed latex-clad hausfraus? What better way than by uttering the word as it was uttered by SS officers, gypsy-fag-Jew killers?
By scouring the word from my tongue, I hoped the feeling would be scoured from me, too. I made myself only one rule when leaving for Berlin: I must never again read Goethe or Rilke. From then on, it would have to be either Nietzsche, Mein Kampf, or guides to anal-fist-friendly German discos. The project to erase love from my world would take a new level of dedication.