Clouds gather over Yukon, Oklahoma, on April 28, 2020. (Brand Rackley)

May 10, 2020

Haddaway said it best: What is love?

Or maybe it’s Foreigner that said it best: “I want to know what love is.”

Regardless, it’s an issue I’ve been pondering for some time now.

As a natural introvert who mostly grew up with transient siblings, being alone, having privacy and speaking few words are things that have always been comfortable for me. On many occasions, I’ve intentionally sought them out. Being a recluse with my spouse has long been my idea of a good time. And it still is, to some degree.

But quarantine has given me a stark new perspective both on the question of love and on my own nature. Who would’ve thought? All it took was a global pandemic….

I’ve realized how much I miss people and, to put a finer point on it, whom it is I miss.

While small in number but larger in scope than I would have wagered just several months prior, this motley crew of humanity has come to mean more to me than I ever could have expected or imagined.

Is this affinity and need I have for them “love”? Is this what it feels like? I’ve asked numerous people this question, to which I’ve received as many different replies.

If love is personal, and everything is relative, how can anyone ever really know “love” based on anybody else’s definition? I would argue you can’t.

I’ve found that most of my love is cloaked in a romanticism of yearning. Perhaps because a longing for an absent love is the essence of romance. There’s a bittersweetness inherent in it that makes it all the more significant and lasting.

The fact I miss these people as much as I do is all the evidence I need that love is what I feel.

As the Beatles so famously put it, “The love you take is equal to the love you make.” But platitudes aside, it’s clear that “love” is where and what you make it, whether consciously or not.

Say what you will about Love Actually, it did actually get one thing right, which is that love is everywhere. Whether it be in the gym with your workout buddy, a Zoom call with your coworkers, texts from your old friends, phone calls with your family, in your own home with your partner/spouse or, if you’re alone, with a pet or a hobby.

So make love what you will when, where and how it’s most truly true to you.

And while we’re on the subject of love, over the past year I finally fulfilled my destiny as a depressive white cis male and began writing poetry about it. Here is one such poem I wrote during quarantine.

Alone Together 

Let’s be hopeful
Let’s be social
We can do it remotely
It’s not even remotely possible
Keep your distance
Give me my space

Don’t get too close to my face

No holding
No hugging
No kissing
No caressing
No touching
Of any kind

Only in the mind

Not to worry
I’m a pro at showing
what I cannot show
Of doing
what I cannot do
With you

But not this time

We won’t
Do the things we would
What we should
Or shouldn’t
What we could
Or couldn’t


What we needed
What we wanted
We can’t now
Love each other
Like we thought
We should

We never could

(Editor’s note: This is the fifth installment in a series of pandemic diaries by Oklahoma writers. Read the rest of the series here.)