Love or Attachment by William Alexander

There’s a single question which hovers above my head. Am I in love or in attachment? Love has been explained to me as wishing someone happiness in their life. Attachment is a need to be with another person. These two ideas have been meshed, squashed and intertwined with each other over the years and I find it difficult filtering out what emotion belongs where.

I’m attached to my phone and my laptop. My laptop resides on the bedside table, the most dust-free object in the house. The letters on the keys have faded away and the screen has a crack in the top right corner. I feel constantly worried that I’ll drop my laptop and all my photos, documents, videos, music and movies will disappear. My phone is with me at all times except when I shower. I have an idea in my mind that I need it with me in the case of an emergency. So far, in my life, I’ve never witnessed an emergency. It’s not that at all, I just feel naked without one.

Love, on the other hand, is tricky. I believe myself to be in love with a lady. She has dark hair, dark eyes and her name is Helen. I met her online on a forum dedicated to discussing literature. We had similar tastes in books. We began private messaging each other. The length of the replies grew as our interest in each other expanded. Books ceased to be a topic of conversation and instead we wrote awkwardly worded, stilting letters that weaved around the topic of love. We both felt we were hopeless romantics. My messages felt impassioned and sincere when I wrote them. I reread them now and cringe at my blundering writing. We decided to meet in a park, the scene for many romances, and have a picnic. Neither of us had lied about our appearance. She didn’t have a humpback and I wasn’t a violent psychopath so it went off smoothly. It was uncomfortable when we sat down together. We ate our food and she kept her eyes lowered to the tartan pattern of the blanket. When I spilt orange juice down my shirt she smiled. Things progressed rapidly. Within the week she was in my apartment, her bra strewn across the floor, her panties dangling from the headstock of an out of tune guitar. We were naked and whispering our sentiments in each other’s ears. A month progressed and I blurted out that I loved her. She responded that she loved me too.

But then questions ghoulishly took residence in my mind. The way her hands gesticulated when she spoke, the way she pulled her earlobe when she was confused, her timidity and overflowing excitement, all began to grate on me and I felt myself growing tired of her presence. But to break it off seemed like a foreign concept, I couldn’t comprehend the idea. We said we loved each other but it felt like we were going through the motions, both acting out a story we’d grown tired of. I can’t tell if I’m in love or if I’m in attachment. I don’t know if I want her to always be happy or if I just want her around like my phone. I like to say I’m a victim of the 21st century. That I’m bombarded with opinions on what to do, say, think, feel, want and look like. It’s easy to think I’m a victim of too much stimulation and choice and therefore I can’t tell what I actually want. The truth, I think, is that I’m just an asshole.

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