Writing about love


Just after I graduated from high school, I was deeply in love with a younger classmate and best friend who was straight. We had bonded over hardcore shows, reading books and record collecting, so it was only natural that I tried to lose myself in books and music. One obscure book I happened upon at the time was Lord Dismiss Us by Michael Campbell, a novel of boarding school love. I read it obsessively to the soundtrack of Odessey & Oracle, a mint copy of which on Date I had just bought for the then unheard of price of $20. In 1983 gay kids weren’t out in high school and the only Zombies songs anyone knew were “She’s Not There” and “Time Of The Season,” so the album was a revelation. To my tortured mind the baroque song Changes perfectly caught the autumnal mood of the book. With great difficulty I got my friend to read it, obviously incredibly awkward given the nature of our relationship. His verdict (dad an English professor) was that it was “not very well written.”

All those feelings seem very long ago, and “Changes” just sounds like a great English pop song (if a very strange one). But what defines love for me now is a song by a band who seemed like the Zombies of the ’80s, even though they’re completely forgotten today: Squeeze. Back then love was the most intense emotion, the absolute. Now it’s the day to day companionship, the little things: “You made my bed, the fingerpoints, now is that love? The more you more you more you cool down, the easier love is found – now that is love.” From the Zombies to Squeeze, from infatuation to security: it’s a tenuous emotional thread, but somehow the feeling is the same.

I still collect boarding school romance novels.