Note: The following was written and performed for the May 2013 Queens MFA Alpha Krappy Grammar All-genre SLAM in Charlotte, North Carolina.
My first love was a Danish man named Søren. I was twenty, a college sophomore; he had been dead since 1855.
I met Søren Kierkegaard in Philosophy 201. It was love at first read. That semester we stayed up all hours of the night, contemplating the mysteries of existence, truth and subjectivity, the difference between looking backward, and living forward.
It is all fun and games until someone changes her major.
Fear and Trembling became my version of beach reading. I forgot meals. I had trouble sleeping. “Sometimes,” the great Dane wrote in his journal, “there is such a tumult in my head that it feels as though the roof had been lifted off my cranium, and...it seems as though the hobgoblins had liften up a mountain and were holding a ball and festivities there.”
It was something like that.
One afternoon, autumn of my senior year, I sat with friends reading in a favorite coffee shop. Our college chaplain, Trygve, spotted us across the room, sidled up to our booth, smiling.
“Are you reading Kierkegaard?” he asked.
“I bet you’re thinking about him, though.”
“I think you have a schoolgirl crush on Kierkegaard.”
It was true. A copy of Works of Love was in my purple backpack at that very moment, and I could not stop thinking about it.
The thing about falling for Kierkegaard is he will inevitably break your heart. He will teach you to distrust the romantic love of the poet, to wed yourself to the divine. He will not come home to meet your parents at Christmas, or take you dancing on Friday night.
Despite this, I followed him to graduate school, where after years of study culminating in a masters thesis -- on love -- Kierkegaard and I took a break. A long break.
I needed to read other people.
Lately he’s been coming around again -- showing up unexpectedly in articles, conversations with friends, even the latest Terrence Malick film.
I think about telling him to take a hike. “It’s over!” I’ll say. “I’ve met someone else!”
But that would be a lie. I just ordered a copy of The Concept of Irony.
It is true, what they say: old crushes die hard -- even those that have already been dead one hundred fifty-eight years.