What is Love? Harris

Love is Family: Harris

“Nothing is perfect. Everything is ugly and has to be worked at and in the end made beautiful.”

Relationship Status: Married for 19, been with her for 30+

What is love?

An unconditional love shared by two people. In the end love is defined differently by everyone.

Have you ever felt love?

Most definitely. Twice, maybe three times in my entire life. One was my very first love, the girl I fell in love with. Absolutely broke my heart, but without having my heart broken I would’ve never known what love actually was and is. And the other one it was the feeling of love, but may not have been actually been. And then yes, I have felt love, because I would’ve never asked my wife to marry me.

How long have you been married to your wife?

Nineteen years as of this August. But we’ve been together for about 30 plus years.

How did you know when you loved your wife?

I knew I was down for her, the first day I met her. The day I met her, I was working at the CNE. Her and her girl friend were walking by the booth I was working in. I saw that ass and tried to get her attention. Her girl friend turned around—and this is why I’m completely surprised—I flat out said, “Not you, your friend.”

Regardless, she came over and I spoke to her and my exact words were, “I know we just met, I’m hoping that you would give me your phone number. But if you don’t want to would you at least take mine?”

She gave me hers, I gave her mine, and we played phone tag until September and I met her in August of 1986.

That’s a long time. What are the key foundations to love—in your case romantic, but also familial, platonic, etc.?

Work. Anybody can be infatuated, anybody can be in lust, and unfortunately what I see in life right now, people are strongly confusing lust with love. But everything has to be worked on. Nothing is instant.

It’s not a hobby, it’s not a game, it’s not a flavour of the damn month. If you actually want it, put in the damn work. You do not know somebody until you live with them, so this whole, “We’ve been dating for a year, so we know everything is perfect”—bullshit. You don’t know each other yet. Staying a weekend with them, spending a week or two on vacation with them, you can fake that. A comedian once said you do not know somebody well, or are fully comfortable around them, until you flat out, with no shame, break wind in front of them, or are willing to shit in their bathroom.

While dating, my wife and I broke up twice, and again, if we wanted it to be real, we worked at it. If I was to do the things the way y’all [younger generations] do now—and I say ya’ll broadly—then every time I just didn’t feel like it, we would’ve ended it. Which means we would’ve ended, I don’t know, many hundreds of times.

The thing that throws me right now is how frivolous people act with relationships. They aren’t wiling to put in any time to get it started. They aren’t willing to put in any real time after they commit, yet they’re willing to bitch, moan, and complain when things don’t go the way they want.

Nothing is perfect. Everything is ugly and has to be worked at and in the end made beautiful. Here’s the key thing, if you want it to be beautiful how is that supposed to happen? Think of it as a sculpture, you see a big slab of marble or rock in front of you. Any artist tells you that they see it, all they’re doing is chipping away its excess until the beauty comes out. Same thing with a relationship.

But at the same time if the shit is ugly from the beginning, some of it ain’t just gonna be ugly. When you see that the ugly isn’t going away, use your brain and get out.

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Do you feel the love of your children is different from your love from your wife?

No, because it’s unconditional.

For both cases?

In all cases.

In every single case, when you love someone, it’s unconditional?

Well first off, different generations don’t throw around the love like they do now. When I talk about love, it’s actual love, it’s not infatuation, it’s not “that’s one of my favourite things I love it,” we’re talking emotional aspects. So, if you’re talking for the love of my children there are of course differences between the love for my wife and my love of my kids, but being on the aspect of just love in general, then yes I can say that it’s the same it’s unconditional—for all five of them I would basically give my life.

Growing up, where did you get your belief in love?

My mother and my grandmother, because they were the ones who brought me up. They were the ones who taught me what was important. And my mother was the one who taught me to be a man. Being a man was handling your business, taking care of what you’re supposed to, handling your responsibilities, standing for what you believe in, and actually having something to believe.

Love is…? Fill in the blank with one or two words.

Family. It is unconditional. In the end, no matter how much they drive you crazy, no matter how much they get on your nerves, you love your family. It’s that really bad joke they told us as a kid: You can pick your nose, but you can’t pick your family. But in the end like I said, even though they drive me nuts, there’s just a love for them that you have no control over.

*Photos provided by Harris

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