12 Thoughts on the Tranportation of Affection


“Crush” seems an odd word for infatuation. Even if you don’t carry it to its full violence—imagine Giles Corey being accused of witchcraft in Salem and dying after two days of being “pressed” by heavy stones—a “crush” speaks to an inescapable position, some burden demanding extrication, impossible somehow to bear.

Which isn’t the way we use the word. We deploy it to describe our most innocent affections, and we verbize the word—to crush. We blunt it with prepositions so we “crush on” someone and elude anything like love… or lust.

We try to flee.


My high school girlfriend was a twin. She and her sister were cheerleaders, and when they dressed identically on game days and no one could tell them apart, my friends asked if they had ever tried to “switch on me.”

My girlfriend and her sister never considered it, I’d bet.

When you know someone, the faintest gesture communicates. Their eyes don’t point as they might, or a hand rests on a table wrongly, or that smile isn’t quite complete. When you know something, it’s continually defining itself.


I wonder if any age or condition makes you immune to crushes. But wondering, I suppose, is admitting I’m not immune—despite being happily married and probably too old.

In my defense, we over-define the word. A light touch or glance may initiate an infatuation. An economy of expression, the mellifluence of words, a simple sideways move to catch a falling object, a half laugh—all might start a crush.


Before Netflix began distinguishing different family members on an account, my viewing habits built a very strange profile. My children howled over recommendations we received for romantic comedies or Bollywood.

“What are you watching?!” they’d ask.

Sheepish evasion followed. How do you admit such an addiction to sentiment when you’re supposed to be educated and beyond such twaddle? Saying I liked to see him or her won was tantamount to confessing girlishness, the worst sort, the sort that screams at the Beatles or tacks Teen Beat photographs to a wall.


I’m unambiguously straight, but some of my worst crushes involve other males.

My daughter rolls her eyes and says, “You’re having a bro-mance” when I say I admire a colleague or wish I were closer to some man I know.

“The way you talk about him,” she says, “it’s so effusive.”

I’d deny her claim if I weren’t aware of it myself, a thrill at making a connection, a sense of some link forged in mystery long before actually meeting.

I’d object if I didn’t enjoy being somehow swept away… by anything.


In the end, I don’t think having a crush and lust are at all the same thing.


I’ve been watching the series “Chuck” and find I’m quite uninterested in most of the comedy and most of the spy stuff. I skip forward to see how close Chuck and Sarah Walker get to kissing.

My certainty they ought to be together expresses a broader wish everyone so baffled by indefinable connections might find their way to their desired, and perhaps denied, destination.

It’s better to think of the world as moving toward joy. I like to think it is.


No one would call me “romantic” in either a literary or colloquial sense. My wife might say I’m sporadically attentive, and the planning and vision that goes into Valentines Day or anniversaries largely escape me or at least challenge me.

My genuine moments of sentimentality and affection feel like water spilling from overfull cups. They can’t be stopped, and who really wants to?


What would life be without ambush, the surprise of a face to meet your own?


I fell in love for the first time in fifth grade when I saw a classmate performing a baton routine to “Jingle Bell Rock.” I didn’t understand how anything else could be so perfect.


Have you ever felt yourself instantly attached? She or he turns to a light or sound, and the change somehow captures you. “This,” you think, “is it… a grand awakening, a dimension entirely invisible before now.”

You want to believe, that’s key. You are looking for some touch that isn’t physical, some attachment impossible, made of implausible affection.


The odd contacts sting. You mean to reach for something commonly desired—a tool or object—and find one another instead.

It won’t last and may not be real, but it feels so.

What in us lusts after these ends? Why do we want surprise so much?


Filed under Aging, Desire, Essays, Experiments, Identity, Laments, life, Love, Lyric Essays, Meditations, Memory, Nostalgia, Solitude, Thoughts, Valentine's Day, Voice

12 responses to “12 Thoughts on the Tranportation of Affection

  1. I like these meditations, your personal experiences and thoughts on the matter. You know, I’ve never thought about “crush” being such an aggressive word for an infatuation. Seems to fit more under intense lust. I liked how you described the “lightest touch or glance might initiate an infatuation” — this is something so subtle that I think books have done a much better job of capturing it than other forms of stories (TV, movies). Something hard to pin down, much different than the obviousness of a traditionally beautiful person.

    • dmarshall58

      I like the mystery of crushes best and wonder sometimes if they can only happen when your knowledge of the other person is incomplete. That said, the connection of a crush seems, at least at the time, quite concrete and involuntary, a response to something subtle and unknown on any conscious level. Does that make a crush more or less real? I don’t know, don’t really want to know.

      Thanks so much for your comment. You always have such thoughtful things to say. –D

  2. Wow, do you like Bollywood?

    • dmarshall58

      I can’t say I’ve seen the big films of Bollywood, but for a while, I was watching all the romantic movies I could on Netflix. My choices may have been the worst sort, but I developed a crush, I suppose, on Priyanka Chopra and saw a lot of the movies she was in. And I don’t know whether Deepa Mehta films count, as she’s Canadian, but I saw a number of her films and really liked watching Lisa Ray. My weakness is for the thwarted-but-finally-realized love films of Bollywood—the more sentimental the better—and I’m always asking people for recommendations.

      Thanks for visiting and commenting! —D

      • Haha Priyanka Chopra ( heard her ‘exotic’ with Pitbull, not that good btw!), yeh she’s talented with great looks 😉 Deepa Mehta- well no she’s not that mainstream Bollywood actress….and have u senn Jaane tu ya jaane na, dilwale dulhaniya le jayenge, rang de basanti..? They are lovely movies. Btw, I hate when people form India’s impression from Slumdog Millionare, believe me- that’s not real India- or how could everyone say today India’s fastest developing nation!

      • dmarshall58

        I haven’t seen any of those films… but I will now. Thanks! –D

  3. mysterygirl619

    Definitely gives you something to think about 🙂

    • dmarshall58

      I hope in a good way. For me there’s a sort of later-life pang in the whole subject, some wonderful aspects of crushes to remember… and to miss. Thanks for commenting. —D

  4. Suutzi

    I think infatuation and most other forms of human connection are, in part, about *imagination*. A crush involves opposing forces, as you suggest. There is the force of attraction, but then there is the ability to devise ways to *survive* it and to stand outside of it. Analyze it. Make a narrative that will help you get through it. Or indulge yourself in it, if you choose. There is never getting “over it” as you grow older. You just devise more complicated scenarios (or perhaps more ironic or cynical ones) to help you progress. One thing I think is important, is never to lose the ability to explore one’s own imagination. You may go back to some past days, that might make you blush for how silly they were, but such moments are the fundamental building blocks of human wisdom. If you forget them, you start to lose the ability to imagine how far you’ve come. Having one’s own personal history is important, even if some of it might be embroidered, improvised, or even – falsified.

    • dmarshall58

      Wow, what a thoughtful and wise comment. You’re right that survival lies in standing outside your infatuations and employing what reason you can to steer away from them (or into them, maybe, though that’s not where I am). And you’re right there’s no getting over crushes as you age—if that were possible I might have achieved it by now—but perhaps I shouldn’t want to as, here you’re right too, infatuations are so intimately linked to imagination I could never do without.

      Perhaps I’ll confess too much here, but accepting these ideas emotionally is my struggle. In our material world the gap between desire and satisfaction seems bridgeable because we’re relentlessly told we might buy something or find some virtual or sublimated surrogate for the thing we want. Human relations can’t be so direct, especially where desire is unrequited. The pang of individual crushes (any one of which I’ll overcome) arises from what all these crushes share, a growing sense of their collective impossibility. I appreciate imagination and memory and value my much embroidered personal history. And there you seem most right because they’re considerable consolation. But they feel like consolation, and I have trouble standing outside desire that grows even as the soil to sustain it disappears.

      Thanks so much for commenting. I hope I haven’t seemed oppositional. Your thoughts are wonderful and have helped me understand so much more. –D

      • Suutzi

        If I might, I will try to explain a little bit more. I think you are correct, that “society” has devised strategies that might serve as a proxy for satisfying our deeply felt need for human intimacy and to erase the pain that we feel when we have unrequited love. As you say (and I agree), they are not satisfactory on an emotional level. Materialism never promises to fulfill those needs completely. Materialism only presents a form of substitution, to fill that wide, yawning gap of unfulfilled love or need. However, the beauty of being human is that we have the ability to choose how we see it. Once upon a time, I was going to be a world-class concert pianist. THAT was my infatuation. But, when that wasn’t achieved, I learned to take all that yearning, and frustration, and disappointment, and decided to use my emotional response to it as a platform for adjusting how I see the outside world. And more importantly, myself. I think I also developed an *acceptance* of pain and disappointment. I learned to *respect* my emotional reaction to it. It was okay that I was really upset, disappointed, and – almost like a lover rejected me. I survived. I cannot say it doesn’t hurt, it still does. But, I believe that pain is the root source of so much creativity – plus, it makes you feel the pain of all sentient animals on Earth. It’s important that we experience the sensation of pain. It gives us the root of empathy for others going through the same thing. And when you are empathic, you are able to see beyond yourself, to truths that are beyond yourself. Gawd. This all sounds like a bunch of new-agey stuff, when I’m not like that at all. 😀

      • dmarshall58

        Not new-agey at all… quite sensible and honest. And I appreciate your explanation. Empathy, I think, is humanity’s most important trait, and the recognition of how disappointment helps create it is a great discovery. Thanks for writing back! –D

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