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The Vulnerability of Mighty Samson

For Mrs. McEnroe
who loves listening to music
and wants to cut my beard

To be worthy of what we lose is the supreme aim.
Emily Dickinson

Regina Spektor

You are my sweetest downfall
I loved you first, I loved you first
Beneath the sheets of paper lies my truth
I have to go, I have to go
Your hair was long when we first met

Samson went back to bed
Not much hair left on his head
He ate a slice of wonder bread and went right back to bed
And history books forgot about us and the bible didn't mention us
And the bible didn't mention us, not even once

You are my sweetest downfall
I loved you first, I loved you first
Beneath the stars came fallin' on our heads
But they're just old light, they're just old light
Your hair was long when we first met

Samson came to my bed
Told me that my hair was red
Told me I was beautiful and came into my bed
Oh I cut his hair myself one night
A pair of dull scissors in the yellow light
And he told me that I'd done alright
And kissed me 'til the mornin' light, the mornin' light
And he kissed me 'til the mornin' light

Samson went back to bed
Not much hair left on his head
Ate a slice of wonderbread and went right back to bed
Oh, we couldn't bring the columns down
Yeah we couldn't destroy a single one
And history books forgot about us
And the bible didn't mention us, not even once

You are my sweetest downfall
I loved you first

* * *

It's not that I do not wish to be vulnerable again. Actually, letting go precisely means that--opening yourself up again (and again).

It is true that I am no longer the same person that you first met. I was young then; and so were you. I still remember that very first day: you were smiling at everyone while I was keeping to myself, watching like a detached observer. It's complicated for me you see. I did not know then. But you seemed naive at worst and friendly at best. And I thought that ambiguity was your charm. I still think so today.

I never got to tell you that I am sorry.

To be sure, apologies today no longer count for anything. It is not because the past is past; but precisely because now is now and tomorrow is tomorrow. And you have your own present and own future and I have mine. They could have been the same, of course, but now we will never know. No one will know--but us. And even if we remember--as a memory or a hope--we will never mention it anymore. What for?

But I wish to tell you something. That I loved you first.

And there is no other way to first love than by loving first.

This is vulnerability: to be the first without the knowledge that the other will follow. To give first without assurance as the gift may be ignored or returned. To take the step--a step which changes either nothing or history; and we know how much we have changed because of it.

Not that the we learned something from each other--that is too easy and mundane; but that the very parting of ways necessarily led to other ways, ways we can no longer take back or look back to with regret. This is the completion of vulnerability: misdirection and destruction.

But as with all completions, it is only then that one is (finally) able to begin.

The decision to be vulnerable, that is, to love first is the decision to place your self in the crushing hand of the Other--and whether or not she loves back (responds with a second love), you will always have to suffer. Necessarily so.

It is now--and more than ever--no longer a question of first or second, of success and failure, of gain or loss; much more than these, it is already a question of exposing yourself anew to the arrival of another--lover. And the question posed is thus: can I love first for the second, third . . . time?

To love first is not completed in a first love. The decision to love first in a first love is the decision to love first once and for all.

The day will come when no one will mention us. And we, too, shall soon forget. We shall forget who we were when we first met as we shall forget who we were when we once loved. But I believe that we shall remember each other not because of a failed love but because it was a love which was worth the failure. And perhaps that is enough.

You are my sweetest downfall.


  1. a tearjerker... i remember my own vulnerability a year ago... and vow never to fall again... if he happens to be just another jerk...


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