I Love You! I Love You! Allelujah!

January 28, 2010

I am currently in the middle of a very confusing relationship.

The love and affection I receive from this person is constant and without fail. No matter how gloomy the weather or mood, no matter how shitty the day, this person is always able to offer me love. This person’s love is a beacon, pulsing in regular intervals throughout the night. This love calls out to drifting ships and low flying planes, to the city’s quick steppers and stragglers alike. This love is timed to the heart beat.

“I Love You! I Love You! Allelujah!”

The tall, skinny man shuffle-strides down Broadway, right hand raised, poised, holding a Book. His eyes face forward, unyielding. In many ways, this man embodies the opposite of How One Should Be in New York.

My small three bedroom apartment is off of Broadway, and I chance into this man, this erstwhile lover, with frequency. And when I do, I am struck by the most conflicted feelings imaginable.

At first, I am delighted by this selfless man, walking day in day out, proffering the love of his heart to each and every one of us, to complete strangers. What could he expect to receive in kind from us? Agape, altruism, pure love.

Immediately following a bite from this love bug, my heart makes a whiplash turn. The unceasing love call pounds into my ears like a drum. I want to shake him to make him stop! I want to do something nasty and demand love in return. He doesn’t know me! What sort of love is unqualified? What sort of love is untainted by circumstance? How can that be love at all? Who is he serving when he says he loves me?

Am I jealous that his love is not personal? Am I jealous that I have to share him with everyone else on Broadway?

I don’t think so.

I am angry at the Love Man. Love is not an idea; it’s not even an emotion. Love is a balm, a cool kiss on abraded skin. Love is whispered right into your ear; it tickles the cochlea and stirrup. Love is an arrow piercing your chest.

Love does not shout down the walls of your heart. Love is not one-size-fits-all.

One day, I want to stop this man in the street and ask him who I am, ask him what I need, ask him how I must be loved.

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4 Responses to “I Love You! I Love You! Allelujah!”

  1. Dale Pickle Says:

    The Hedonist’s Paradox: If you seek pleasure you will not find it. To find pleasure you must seek something else.

    It sounds like this man poses a similar paradox for you: If you seek “love” you will not find it. To find love you must seek something else: a person whom you love without the premeditated plan to love someone.

    An exercise for the reader: name as many other values of X as possible:

    “If you seek X you will not find it. To find X you must seek something else.”

  2. Rabbi Dr. Prof. Jurgen Haverstam, DHL Says:

    I live two blocks away from “Hallelujah Man”, as we’ve affectionately dubbed him. This is by far the most cogent treatment of a dilemma I’ve faced nearly daily for going on six years. Hail to thee!

  3. l s Says:

    Thank you for writing about this! I think about this man often. If I lived in the UWS and encountered him all the time I might have different thoughts, but as is: I always await running into him when I visit the city. His chant is a music that adds to the street. His own Perek Shira. Not a generic radio message but a constant presence with human at the source. Knowing that his piece exists adds to my perception of love. Aren’t we all chanting the same, only each beaming it in different forms and sounds, outward?

  4. rotey6 Says:

    i think it’s wonderful to have to capacity to give and receive different layers of love. let’s love everyone always and also deeply love the people who deserve the deeper kind. thanks for this thoughtful post!


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