​I’ve just finished Book Two in the Black Knight Chronicles, Back in Black, and AC/DC would be a perfect soundtrack for this installment. I can already tell that this series will get better with age, just like our vampire heroes, Jimmy and Greg.  I’m happy to report that the Lost Boys I wrote about here are starting to grow up a bit. Plus, this second offering introduces the world of the Fae, always a winning combination with the Sanguine, as our favorite bloodsuckers are called by the Tinkerbelle types. As the series progresses, we’re getting more of the backstory, enough to know that it started with a girl. Doesn’t it always?

In this case,  Jimmy Black was a young man at a bar feeling inordinately lucky that he was going to go home with a girl who was clearly out of his league. Looking back, Jimmy figured that this was one time where looking a gift horse in the mouth would have been a good idea, never mind those Trojans. As he tells the story, just as he was about to see heaven with his hottie, she bites him. No, it wasn’t, “Love at first feel.” It was game over, new vamp rising, and, oh, by the way, Jimmy accidentally turns his best friend, Greg, in the process. The things we do for love. Or was that lust?  Can a 20- something male tell the difference?

​Right now, I’m reliving the roller coaster that is first love with one of my sons, and the experience is bringing up unpleasant memories of all of the extreme, intense, ridiculous, pathetic, courageous, unbelievable things I’ve done for love over the years. It’s been an emotional saunter down memory lane… making it particularly difficult to watch my boy go down the path, knowing as I do the potholes he will encounter along the way. All parents wish to spare our children pain, but I also know there is no protecting him from life in all its glory and despair. Tell me again who suggested we have children?  Oh, yeah, it was me. And my husband. And we had to work at it too, so I guess we must have been sincere in our desires. Makes me want to go back and knock some sense into my younger self.  Just kidding… most of the time.

Jimmy’s wide-eyed incredulity at his good fortune in attracting a beautiful girl reminds me of my own sense of wonder at the dawn of my first relationship. That one wasn’t so good, unfortunately, and I ended up doing some pretty terrible things in the name of not-being-able-to-live-without-his-love type of obsession (I won’t besmirch the name of love by labeling what I felt for my first boyfriend as such). I accepted infidelity. I ran over whenever he crooked his finger.  I endured casual cruelty, of the emotional variety, because I “loved” him so much and he was really just toying with me for his own amusement. And at some level I knew that, but it didn’t matter because he was all I could think about and all that I wanted.  Does anyone else remember the intensity of first love? I do. I felt kicked in the teeth (me and Ozzie).Thank God that shit is over.

The things we do for love suck.  Because when we talk about the things we do for love, we mean the self-sacrificing things, the self-effacing things, the difficult things and the things we never thought we could do, or that we wanted to do. Love makes us strong like bull, and tenacious, and creative, and shameless. Love and fear are the most motivating factors in the world, and while things never work out well when we are motivated by fear, they don’t always work out well when we are motivated by love, either.

But is it actually love motivating us when we take self-destructive actions in the name of these strong emotions? As I wrote about earlier, we know a good choice from a bad choice by its fruits. I think the same thing holds true for determining whether our actions are inspired by love or some more base emotion—like lust, pride or greed. When we become obsessed with someone and do things we shouldn’t (like taking home strange partners we’ve just met in a bar), our motivation probably isn’t pure.

When I look back at my own experiences, and look now at what my son is doing, it’s important to look at the fruits. A good relationship makes us better–we feel supported and loved, so we feel free to take chances we otherwise wouldn’t, knowing we have a safe harbor from the storms of growth. A good relationship leads to self enhancing activities, not self destruction.

On the other hand, bad relationships just suck us dry—kind of like what that vampire hottie did to Jimmy on their first and only ‘date’. A bad relationship makes us feel desperate, not secure, anxious, not safe, and pessimistic, not hopeful. A bad relationship can lead us to give up our friends, ignore our obligations, and isolate us from our families and communities. Bad relationships erode our self-esteem because we find ourselves doing unhealthy things—middle of the night booty calls, or making frantic phone calls to find out where the ostensible significant other is spending his or her time. Sucks us dry, leaving us desiccated.

So, the things we do for love can be good, of course, but the things we do for feelings less than love can leave us feeling sucker punched.  So let’s hear it for growing up and maturing, just like Jimmy and Greg.  Because experience does help us discern the difference between love and lust, as my son will also learn… soon I hope. And I’ll feel good that my days of bad behavior in the name of love are well and far behind me. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

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