What is Love, Really? (How My Youthful Ideas May Have Impacted My Perception of Reality)

IMG_5239I admit it. I am obsessed with love.

I espouse the notion that love can solve anything. Heal us. Make the world a better place. I look for it everywhere and in every person, place or thing.

But love can be a very difficult concept, or, at least we make it that way. When I was young and thought I was “in love,” was that really what true love is all about? The naive, flowery, sharing a soda, holding hands, dreamy, floating feeling? Kisses under oak trees with falling leaves, walking through the park, spending hours just gazing into each other’s eyes?

Did those notions cloud my perception because I was sure that that was real love and anything less didn’t qualify? (Besides the unconditional love my parents had for me and that I too, have for my own kids and grandkids.)

The other day I saw the following video online about David Cassidy falling off the stage during his concert: TMZ

I took it personally and couldn’t figure out why. I don’t know the man. Never have.

(Today, Cassidy is announcing that he has dementia, which is supposedly the reason for his not being able to remember the lyrics to his songs, and that may very well be true. But I’m not here to debate Cassidy’s mental health, or his personal issues. This piece is about love. The recent news about him is what got me thinking about all of this.)

I was “in love” with David Cassidy when I was a young girl in the ‘70s. I was going to move to California, become an actress, and marry him. Thousands of other girls had the same dream, I knew, but that didn’t hinder me one bit. I just knew that when he saw me, we would instantly fall madly in love and get married and live happily ever after.

That was before David Cassidy was a real person.

In my teenage mind, he was the epitome of the perfect boyfriend and husband. He was handsome, sexy, romantic, caring, sensitive, and had a beautiful singing voice. He seemed to respect women. He had kind of an androgynous look that wasn’t threatening, that was safe and protecting. He seemed smart and kind and all the other things I thought would make the perfect life partner.

Then one day, Rolling Stone Magazine featured an article about David and he appeared nude on the cover—and in the centerfold. I was flabbergasted. I was probably 14 or 15 at the time. The bubble of naïveté that encased my fantasy wasn’t just popped, it was sliced into a million pieces by shards of cold, thick glass and lay hemorrhaging at my feet.

I remember sitting on the floor in the drugstore and reading the article. I couldn’t tear my eyes from the words, “Aw shit man, take drugs,” and the words that spelled out what a “great fuck” he was and much more.

I bought the magazine and took it home with tears running down my face. It couldn’t be! This perfect man—he was all a lie???? Something the TV show and the fan magazines all constructed?

It was inconceivable to me that anyone would make up blatant lies about someone and pass them off as “the truth.” The media had me believing that David’s favorite books were “The Godfather” and “Siddhartha.” Reading “Siddhartha” made me believe that David was a deep thinker and it only endeared him to me more. Reading “The Godfather” at 14 caused me permanent mental damage.

Either way, David Cassidy became an important part of my life, of my newly-forming ideas of what love was all about. I had no concept of sex back then. I really was that naive.

After reading the Rolling Stone article, David was dead to me and I mourned for a very long time. I remember my dad using the experience to teach me that David was a human being just like the rest of us, something my young mind refused to accept.

But to this day, I still love to listen to some of Cassidy’s old songs—the ones where he croons in his soft breathy voice about making me his, and trips to my father’s summer cabin and holding me in his arms—being together. Impressionable young girls take these things personally. At least I did.

And now, seeing what a disgraceful performance he gave on that recent video, I am embarrassed for him. I know that his dad was an alcoholic and that he perished in a fire started from his lit cigarette which he dropped while sitting in a chair because he was too drunk to move.

I also know that David has been arrested for several DUIs and has been to rehab to help him overcome his addiction to alcohol. He apparently has a few issues, but then, who doesn’t?

I heard David, himself, say that those who managed him took full advantage of him, that he never got a cut of any of the paraphernalia with his name and picture on it—books, lunchboxes, bubblegum cards, pillow cases, you name it. I don’t know if any of that is true, nor will I ever. I do know, because Cassidy has said it many times, that he felt he could never measure up to his father’s standards—it seemed that Jack Cassidy was jealous of his son’s fame and fortune—and nothing David could ever do was good enough to earn his father’s love.

It just goes to prove that he is a person just like the rest of us. Just because someone is famous doesn’t mean they are happy or have it all together mentally. I can think of many examples, among them—Michael Jackson and Robin Williams. They had all the talent in the world, and money and admiration, but they had issues. Serious issues.

This leads me back to love.


I based my idea of what love should be, on false impressions of a person I didn’t even know. And now that I’m older, I wonder if those ideas were really what love should be or if they were simply unrealistic fantasies of a young mind. Let me see if I can explain.

So if I have these raw, untainted emotions as a child, are those more authentic simply because they aren’t based on preconceived notions of what something should be? Or are they just fantasies? And, in any case, aren’t these the sorts of emotions that make artists great? Baring one’s soul and raw feelings and observances of the world in a way that provides a connection to others? The fact that the message conveyed is universal?

(To be continued next week…)