This is a two-part exercise. First, I ask everyone in the room to free write for a minute on each of these phrases and to describe them in any way they want: full sentences, single words, other phrases.
1. an accident
2. an annoying person
3. a delicious meal
4. great sex, or something sexy
5. a dog or a cat, a pet (and not necessarily a beloved one)
Next, I have them cross out these phrases, and write “Love is,” in their place. So we end up with “Love is a bloody car crash,” or “Love is chewy macaroni and cheese.” The meaning completely changes and a metaphor appears. Using one of these free writes as a place to begin, we then write for 15 minutes, anything that comes to mind.
You might also ask everyone to try continuing with the metaphor and see how crazy it gets.
I have been writing a lot about Love as a character. Here’s part two.
Love, you keep threatening to show up with a dog that doesn’t shed, a big extended family, and two seats side by side on a propeller plane. But I want to claim you for myself. I want you to be the meals I dream up reading Bon Appétit and Saveur, as I relish an hour in the sky sitting in crowded Coach.
Love, I want to stop hoping you’ll change, that you’ll surprise me somehow, that you will be like my parents or the romantic comedies I claim to hate so much.
Love, we need one another. I need you to survive the lonely days, days when the world is coming to an end. You need me to believe in you, to spread the word. We’re co-dependent, Love.
So let’s work out a deal: I’ll stop talking about you behind your back and you stop hanging around with Romance so much. Instead of showing up with rose bushes, show up on time for dinner with a bottle of wine I like. Sit down at my table without candles, or my parents’ champagne flutes, and eat with me, Love. Eat meatloaf and mashed potatoes, without worrying about fat calipers or liposuction. Have chocolate cake for dessert and compliment me on my meal, Love, and I’ll compliment you on your excellent wine pairing.
Let’s not talk about beautiful eyes, or cry out of the fear of loss. If we watch a movie together, let’s not snuggle, Love. You can rub my feet and I’ll rub yours, but let’s watch the movie, Love, each in our own space. Let’s not cling, Love, or hope; let’s discuss the movie afterward like two adults, Love. Let’s not be childlike together.
And when we’re tired, let’s sleep together, Love, spooned or not; let’s sleep deeply. I’ll kiss you goodnight, Love; I won’t be stingy. And you can complement my skin, Love, but I promise I’ll chalk it up to my expensive skin care products and my good genes. In other words, Love, you can tell me what I already know.