My name is Tommy D. I'm 31 and live in the foothills of Southern Appalachia. Despite what you may have heard, this isn't exactly the Bible Belt when it comes to love, sex and dating. I am a former and soon-to-be-again newspaper reporter. And believe me, writing politics and crime stories gives you a twisted view of how some relationships function and the odd places where love is found. Currently, I write news for a regional business publication.
I went to college. After five and one-half years, I was permitted to graduate. In fact, I was urged, and threatened, by several faculty members to do so.
I was in love with a girl. Once. She was an angel. And I was an idiot.
I have broken girls' hearts. Two, if memory serves. I still feel like a jerk. However, I didn't love either of them so I couldn't lie.
I've had my heart broken. Once. She WAS the angel. And if you happen to see her, ask her what she did with the big pieces. I still can't seem to find them.
Half of my handful of romantic entanglements ended okay which is to say the woman and I remain on a speaking basis. We moved on. It was hardly like we were shattered without each other, but decided that our romantic relationship was like a shark: It had to keep moving or it died, and what we had was a dead shark (Thank you, Mr. Allen). Other relationships just dried up like so much baby's breath tucked in wilted roses. It was no one's fault.
The one relationship that ended badly resulted from my own stupid male pride and insecurity. It actually taught me a great deal about what to do and not to do when it comes to romance. If you guess this is the relationship with the angel who broke my heart, give yourself a Kraft caramel.
Most of my friends are women because I enjoy being around them and talking about things of substance rather than yapping about Barry Bonds' slugging percentage or the advantage of Treasury bonds over bio-techs.
What is love? Petrarch's Laura. Michael Furey standing in a freezing Irish night for Gretta in "The Dead". Tristan's dying lament for Isolde. Joltin' Joe's roses on Marilyn's grave.
My philosophy of relationships is this: Give more than you ask; listen more than you talk; give respect and accept nothing less than respect in return; and surprise yourself by sensing your heart's need to love selflessly, understand completely, and sacrifice willingly. And if that doesn't work, almost every town with a population of over 50,000 has an escort service.
My philosophy on love is this: If you've got it, count yourself blessed. If you are looking for it, don't give up. It's a cold, scary world out there kids. Regardless what shape or form and whether society approves, love gives life meaning beyond anything else you will ever know.