What Love Means to Me

An essay by Taylor Boileau Davidson, December 2019

Taylor Boileau Davidson is a multi-disciplinary artist whose work explores the boundaries between intuition, femininity, and mysterious spaces.

One morning I woke up to a text from my best friend, she wanted to skype. Her and I have been friends for a little over four years, and much of it has been long distance. She had done a year exchange in Amsterdam, and moved to Toronto after finishing her degree. And when she texted me that morning, I knew exactly what it was about because she’d never once texted me like this, needing to skype that same day.

She’s always been independent, always taking on new adventures in her stride. She is so practical, so courageous, taking in the facts without too much concern; some concern, but never too much.

Of course, she doesn’t see herself this way. She thinks that she gets over worried and overly attached. But she, unlike me, will always turn towards her studies, her career, her health and well-being after a letdown, in a way that I never could. She was strong being on her own, and after each failed relationship she brushed herself off and got on with things. Taking herself from Amsterdam, to Toronto, to London UK where she is studying a Masters in feminist thought and
policy at one of the most prestigious universities in Europe. I was the one who texted her when she was abroad, who booked skype calls, who messaged her regularly with updates and asked her how she was. It’s just the way we are. But that day, she needed to skype and I knew exactly what it was about.

The minute the call landed she confirmed my suspicions. She says “I met someone.” and that is all I needed to know. But she wanted me to understand, so she went on with the details of how they met, and she said “It felt like I’d known him forever.” And that’s exactly what I was hoping she’d say.

I’d experienced this same thing when I met my husband. That thing that is so frustrating to those who have yet to meet someone they recognize in this way. The recognizing someone who is just like you, who understands who you are, and you them. But that telling of knowing what you know when you know it is an insanely irritating answer to a question that can’t possibly be given a satisfying answer.

My friend didn’t quite know just yet that she knew. She had a hunch, but it was still budding and she was scared that calling it by its name would chase it away. That’s also what I felt when I met my husband. And a fear of having what I knew was in front of me, something I didn’t necessarily think I was capable of or deserved.

Love doesn’t really erase any of our self doubts, or the pains we grew up with. It doesn’t make things easier. It calls for us to grow, it calls us to face all the things in ourselves that we don’t like.

I see my friend and I see her courage, and I feel so grateful that she called me. Isn’t it a gift to be someone who is called in earnest to be told of this scary, blooming thing occurring in someone’s heart. My brave friend who takes on each adventure in stride, who never feels the need to record every detail of her incredible journeys or send me endless pictures, turned to me because I would know what she means, and what it means for her to tell me so. It is the evidence of a thing I’d told her often, when aimless men would walk in and out of her life.

Finally she understood. She could see it coming around, and it will continue to turn. It reminds me of this poem I found that I used for inspiration when writing my wedding ceremony:

Santiago by David Whyte

The road seen, then not seen, the hillside
hiding then revealing the way you should take,
the road dropping away from you as if leaving you
to walk on thin air, then catching you, holding you up,
when you thought you would fall,
and the way forward always in the end
the way that you followed, the way that carried you
into your future, that brought you to this place,
no matter that it sometimes took your promise from you,
no matter that it had to break your heart along the way:
the sense of having walked from far inside yourself
out into the revelation, to have risked yourself
for something that seemed to stand both inside you
and far beyond you, that called you back
to the only road in the end you could follow, walking
as you did, in your rags of love and speaking in the voice
that by night became a prayer for safe arrival,
so that one day you realized that what you wanted
had already happened long ago and in the dwelling place
you had lived in before you began