There is nothing bigger, or more vulnerable, or more confusing, or more impossible to define, as love. No one is arguing with that. People have been wrestling with it for such a long time that it’s become a cliche to talk about it at all. And actually, it’s been a cliche for such a long time that now it’s almost cool again, sort of like the Spice Girls. Our Heart editor, Jeanie Riess, wrote a piece for this issue tackling that age-old Haddaway question, “What is love?” That might be a good place to start: with this knowledge that this love thing we all want, and believe in, and want to believe in, is actually impossible to pin down in the first place. From there, keep reading: we have satire, storytelling, and comics on the subject of LOVE, running the gamut from the sublime to the silly, and you won’t want to miss any of it.
And if any of this gets your pen moving, that’s great! We’ll be taking submissions on the subject of LOVE for the entire month of February, with new content every Monday. Strap in: this issue is one for the heartstrings.
by Nick Thomas
by E. Gross
The relationship began out of boredom after
school on the carpeted staircase (gray, coarse
business carpet) between the benefactor’s home
and attic office space, where my mother worked.
Either someone set it up for me or I just found it there
out of way on the landing, this giant electric typewriter
by Adele Marrs
One wall of my Grandma Anita’s house is comprised entirely of windows that face a small, man-made body of water named Lake Manitou. People in my hometown of Rochester, Indiana, tell stories of a mysterious but rather innocuous creature who lives in the lake called the Manitou Monster. By account long-necked and
by Shawn Dugas
When I was 17, I was in love with my girlfriend. This was my second serious relationship, and it was with a girl I had pined for and longed to be with ever since we were freshmen. Finally, halfway through junior year, after many hours of pining and longing and filling countless computer folders with embarrassing song lyrics, we started dating, and I was really stoked about it.
by Maggie Lloyd
When I remember that night, I remember hands. Ours. Your right hand, my left hand, so close I swore I could feel your pulse rustling the air. The half-inch of cracked leather seat between our pinky fingers buzzed alive, begging to be covered. If I close my eyes, I can watch my left hand sliding another quarter-inch along the gritty tan seat. Your hand, dirt packed under the jagged edges of fingernails, begins to lift just as the truck slumps onto a deflated tire.
by Kelsi Villarreal
by Julie Mitchell
I am here in defense of love. I am here in defense of choice. These are two things so coveted by this country, yet too often they are thrown to the wind when personal preference doesn’t align with the actions of others. I am reluctant to identify as someone who practices an “alternative” lifestyle because I think labeling my lifestyle as an “alternative” denotes that there is something wrong with it: that it is not “normal.”
People need to wake up! There is so much prejudice in the world, so many people quick to point out things they deem “disgusting” or link a lifestyle to risk of “disease” which is hateful and not based in any kind of truth if you actually do any research.
I’m sick of hiding who I am because I don’t think people will approve or I’m scared of their judgments. So, for the first time, I’m going to COME OUT. I fuck my dog. I fuck my dog! But it’s so much more than that. We are in LOVE. So many people don’t believe that a woman can be in love with another species, but that’s RELIGIOUS BRAINWASHING and PREDJUDICE.
In the Bible there are so many mentions of companionate love between humans and animals, it’s not that big of a leap to romantic love! Jesus was all about caring for one another, spreading compassion and acceptance and kindness. What’s more loving and kind than a dog? I think if people are truly being open-minded and reread the Bible, they will see Jesus would probably (or did!!!) fuck a dog. Maybe many dogs! None of us were alive during that time so we can never know what happened, it’s all speculation, and when you project YOUR preference, you cloud your own judgment and it makes it impossible to see the truth, which is that even if he didn’t fuck dogs himself, Jesus would definitely be in support of sexual relationships between canines and humans. (And he probably did fuck a dog! Wrap your minds around that, conservatives!)
There is so much ignorance in the world, which is part of the reason I’m writing this. Once people get over their own prejudice and accept that I am a dog fucker, that it is not a CHOICE I was BORN like this, and it’s just as valid as their own lifestyle, they have so many questions. “How does a woman even fuck a dog?” Again, this is belying an ignorance that penetrative sex (HETERONORMATIVE CULTURAL BRAINWASHING) is the only “real” type of sex, which is insulting to anyone who doesn’t identify within those prescriptive and limited boundaries. Sexuality is a spectrum and the world is too vast for ONE type of relationship to be accepted anymore. It’s 2015! We put a man on the moon but a woman can’t fuck her dog? Come ON.
People are so fond of putting labels on things, they don’t see how limiting it is to see the world through their pre-constructed lenses. There are billions of people in the world, how can you think you know all the articulations of love?
When I was fucking human men (when I was younger, before I truly accepted myself for ME) it never felt right, there was always something missing. There was no chemistry, no friction. When I started fucking dogs in college (always drunk) I knew deep down that I wasn’t just “experimenting.” When I’m fucking my dog, I feel complete and whole in a way I only dreamed was possible. She (YES IT’S A GIRL DOG — I’M ALSO A LESBIAN) has always been the one I just never saw it before. She always used to sleep curled up at the foot of my bed, and when I think back to all those nights, it’s painful — knowing the love of my life was right under my nose I just didn’t see it! And when I think of her patience, and restraint, denying her own desires until I was ready, sometimes I cry just thinking about her strength.
A lot of times people try to devalue our relationship, make it seem base or wrong but anyone who spends any time at all with us would see that our love is just as real as anyone else’s. We have our struggles just like anyone else. I love going out dancing and she loves to stay in and just sleep or hide from thunder or read a good book. She definitely has a wandering eye/nose and going to the dog park is a true test of our relationship, because I’m naturally a very jealous person, but it’s something we’re through together.
Ultimately, I’m just asking to be treated with common respect. I just want to be able to walk down the street with my dog, go into an Italian restaurant, order spaghetti, and share the noodles until our lips touch, like any other couple.
So in 2015 please try to be open-minded to love in all forms and celebrate happiness! We do.
Julie Mitchell is a writer and stand up comedian living in New Orleans.
by Deb Fleischman
Had I imagined myself in a yoga studio full of strangers physically beating and simultaneously affirming the love we had for our internal organs—spleens, livers, and hearts—I might have opted for a more traditional approach to a midlife crisis, like the proverbial vision quest popular among many brave women I know. Like them, I might have journeyed into the woods with a matchstick, a thimbleful of water, and an iPhone to see what I was made of.
by Lianna Patch
by Kezia Kamenetz
I’m a millennial. Over the past few years, I’ve read numerous articles explaining that I love myself too much. According to the media, my narcissistic and self-centered peers and I gain our sense of self worth from the number of likes our dog’s pictures get on Instagram. To me,
by Jeanie Riess
I was in second grade, and it came as a playground rumor: an actual human heart looks nothing like the ubiquitous shape on Valentine’s Day cards. The real thing, they said, was gory, shapeless, bloody and, more importantly, impossible for a novice hand to recreate with colored pencils.
by Liz Beeson
by Jen O’Neil
The instant I knew that he was the man I wanted to spend the rest of my life with he was washing my vagina while my mother was maneuvering the showerhead. It was September 2013 and I had just had my first of two major reconstructive pelvic surgeries and the liberties that most of us take for granted day today had been stripped of me all at once—standing up, sitting down, getting in and out of bed, getting dressed, pooping without a suppository, showering alone. Showering was a two-person job. I was high on narcotics and unable to catch myself in the case of a fall. My role was to hold onto the shower stool and allow myself to be lolled about like a ragdoll while my boyfriend and my mom traded the loofa between themselves each taking charge of getting a part of my body clean.
by Ariel Elias
My darling dearest,
It has been two days since you died. Passed. Forcefully and suddenly ripped away from me, leaving me empty-handed with not a clue of how to proceed. I cannot bear to leave the house, finding myself lost in every sense of the word the moment I step outside of these walls, knowing you shall never again be at my side.