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||February 14, 2012
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Philip D. Luing
"A beautiful little beating heart of a book; intimate, real, and so very, very moving." - Tom Webb, Atlanta. "Both a heartrending memorial and a tender love story" - David D. Warner, Washington, D.C.
"From Particles and Disputations" is a collection of playful, romantic, candid and personal creative writings that I wrote for my partner Jeff. From our meeting in 1982 until his death from AIDS in 1994 I marked each birthday, anniversary, holiday, and other special or difficult occasion we shared with a candid piece of writing – sometimes poetry, sometimes prose, sometimes celebratory, sometimes anguished – chronicling and reflecting upon the event. These were intimate writings composed solely for the purpose of expressing myself to one other person. Following Jeff's death I collected these writings into a “book of hours” which I entitled "From Particles and Disputations: Writings for Jeff." Read together they impart our story, a love story with a sad but transcendent ending. I hope reading it will remind you of moments to cherish in your own life.
Perhaps the valentine I send you should be of highly polished wood, an object of calm, gentle strength, warm to the touch, full of life-enriched beauty, because that would be very much like you.
Or perhaps I should send you the sky, across whose expanse an infinite and often incongruous variety of clouds drift, because that, too, would be like you, and sometimes you storm.
Perhaps my valentine for you should be a bright yellow daffodil, because that is how you like to see yourself, and how I like to see you too, especially on leisurely, sunlit mornings.
Or perhaps I should send you – hmmmmm, cozy autumnal snuggles wrapped in flickering firelight; a big, shiny red apple for my favorite teacher; a meandering river of conversation for my closest friend; an endless moment of passionate embrace for my lover; a book of memories for our future.
Hide and Seek
You will not always find me in our hide-and-seek, not when I am the seeker and look for you in lonely corners only to discover other hidden things. I do not mean to lose you, but if I did not sometimes lose myself, how would I find anything? There’s a vagabond’s soul within this homebody with whom you’ve mated, a soul that does not always recall the most expeditious path home, and that is why sometimes I am lonely, even in your arms.
To hear what is, touch context, sense the particular to which we relate, these particular sensations which constitute our life. Our strength is in our holding, our ability to hold together the elements of our love: concern, patience, boredom, charity, security, safety, frustration, passion, fantasy, self-denial, comfort, exhaustion, yearning, protection, loneliness, hope, optimism, disappointment, definition, humor, daring, communication, excitement, mutuality, exploration. Touch and we embrace wholly our history in moments pressed, pressed in tangletongue lips, we kiss.
DecemberSun #6 – Sweet My Love Rest
Sweet my love rest this holiday day comes a soothing relief, pause – the weary across our brows comes peace, peace. Glitter our champagne gifts in open exchange our love, memories, regrets and expectations are cuddled and dismissed, laid to rest amid festive wrap the cat plays with amusements of the very gay season most vulnerable, our underbellies exposed wide open up, we assume the sweet, gentle rub, loving tickle, our pleasures prevail on each other’s indulgence.
Come sweet my love relax into this holiday day bathes us with essential good will, each one for the other, that you will have the best life possible for you to have, and that that life will continue intimately connected to my own, that is my own best holiday wish for you, with all my love.
Thirty-eighth Birthday – Recognition
Your features are changed this year, your thirty-eighth, so that now when I look at you I am surprised, yet find I am better able to recognize you – your moods, struggles, successes, ambitions, confusions, needs, sufficiencies, fears, our interdependencies. In isolation, drawn apart from familiar context, you become more real to me, and I feel more urgently the necessity of us. My impulse is to reach for you; I want the familiarity, the reassurance of touch.
When I see you ill, as has happened often this year, what I feel is not pity mistaken for love; it’s the recognition of a more serious love between us than I had imagined in my poetry, a love whose proportions are not those of mythic quest or romantic ideal, whose impetus is not its public or private celebration, nor even the banking away of its comfort for future recollection. Instead it is a quiet, practical matter, like looking around a room to see what needs to be done.
Not To Be Missed; The True Map of a Heart
Tuesday, March 6, 2012"From Particles and Disputations:Writings for Jeff. A Book of Hours."
Review - "From Particles and Disputations: Writings for Jeff. A Book of Hours" by Philip Luing
Very Highly Recommended
In February of 1982, Philip Luing and Jeffrey Lalonde meet when they are assigned to the same study group at their church. After rehearsal for a play, they went to a local deli for bagels and coffee on April 15th and begin their 12 year love affair.
Phil is the more artistic, creative and emotional of the two; Jeff is more pragmatic. Over the course of their lives together, Phil writes Jeff letters of love, feelings and celebration. He marks not only their milestones - birthdays, Valentine's Day, Christmas, anniversaries - but also those times in their lives that are mundane. Just because.
In June of 1985, both men tested positive for HIV.
And on March 9, 1994, in the early hours of the morning, Jeff slipped from this life with his love standing watch.
Phil took the letters and notes and scribblings that he had given Jeff over the years and collected them into this small tome, "From Particles and Disputations: Writings for Jeff. A Book of Hours."
And what a tome. This beautiful little beating heart of a book traces the evolution not only of a life, but of a love. It is unflinching in its joy and sorrow, in showing the fun and whimsy and growing pains of a relationship. How it starts so sweetly and then hits bumps. How we question ourselves, and each other. And how the mundane can become so very precious when viewed from the now.
Mr. Luing - Phil, if he will forgive me for taking the liberty - gives us twelve years of his heart. From the missives he shows us, he never shied away from acknowledging the beauty as well as the pettiness of their life together. I was constantly amazed by the power of his observational skills. How he, and I can only assume Jeff, never feared to face the demands and hurts that were in their relationship.
The prose? So very lovely...
"All right, all right, so I prayed; you responded. Perhaps I wasn't specific. That'll teach me to pray poetry."
When the two men shied away from each other, retreating into silences...
"If we can penetrate the silences, we can usually get through the words. It's been that kind of a year, you know? Mostly overcast. Sunlight on too brief occasions...Our words are wicked, as are our silences...For this anniversary, then, I give you my discontent and its corollary, hope for the future we are sharing."
How love means more than just you and me...
"We long ago discovered that one and one make three, not one; there will always be you, me and us at work in our domestic affairs."
How the disease they shared taught them lessons in how to support each other...
"Perhaps the vital lesson we've learned is that we bring injuries to each other to soothe, not to clone - and that we do nothing to soothe the other's injury by inflicting it upon ourselves."
How love isn't one great big thing, but a series of small considerations...
"Instead it is a quiet, practical matter, like looking around a room to see what needs to be done."
And the hardest part, for me personally, was reading the passages when Jeff was not long for this world...
"2-14-94 Lost Valentine. Sometimes my love wanders in his dreams so as I sit by his side, I repeat 'My name is Philip I love you I'll take care of you.'"
Then, when he's gone...
"Jeff, meaning "peaceful", was well named."
The beautiful description of their last trip to Paris, so very different from their first, had me in tears. Terribly intimate, it reminded me of lost loves and friends in my own life. How Phil massaged Jeff's sore muscles after their day walking around the streets of the city. But this time, it was because the bumping of his wheelchair made Jeff's legs and neck sore. I had to put the book down and talk with a friend for a moment to settle my heart.
Quiet grace. Two men who floated through the first couple of years of their mating, and then settled, sometimes comfortably, sometimes not, into their love. But always present. Always in love. Always two, no, three - you, me and us.
It was a true honor to be invited into this intimate story of how a love grows in fits and spurts, through good and bad, in sickness and in health. This is not to be missed, but savored and appreciated. It's the true map of a heart.
Thanks, Philip, for trusting me with this.
Atlanta, Georgia, United States
I am the Director of Finance for a nonprofit agency in Atlanta, Georgia. We provide housing assistance for people living with HIV/AIDS, which is a cause very close to my heart. I am 50, single, have four dogs who are my kids, and read just about anything I can get my hands on. I love my family and friends, and as with most things, a little of each goes a long way.
Mary, Amazon.com reviewer
I'm at a loss of words, except to say thank you for sharing your and Jeff's lives with me and others who will read it. It was beautiful, yet sad, but in the end, I am so happy that you had the time you did together and happy that you have found love once again. That's all I can say right now, but I will write again soon.
Heartrending Memorial; Tender Love Story
So compelling was FROM PARTICLES AND DISPUTATIONS: WRITINGS FOR JEFF. A BOOK OF HOURS, by Philip D. Luing that I read it in one sitting. I simply could not put it down. Both a heartrending memorial and a tender love story, PARTICLES is pure, raw emotion from start to finish as it chronicles the real life 12-year relationship between two men--a relationship that ended much too soon. This story is not revealed as a narrative. Rather, we glimpse the lives of these two staunchly-devoted individuals through a series of private notes and poems written by one partner to his beloved; writings that marked the special occasions in their life together--anniversaries, birthdays and holidays. The entries trace this relationship from the tender beginnings of newfound love right through to the aftershocks of their tragic parting. These same intensely poignant "flat lines on paper" were gathered together and published after their receiver succumbed to a long battle with AIDS. Each entry is painfully honest and comes straight from the author's soul. This is not a book to be taken lightly. Simply put, it will break your heart ... but at the same time, it's courage and quiet strength will uplift you. I must admit that a part of me felt a little guilty reading Mr. Luing's private words to his lover, rather like an eavesdropper listening in on someone else's private conversations. In the end, however, I felt honored to be allowed to share in their most precious of moments because, within the depths of their relationship, I saw reflected back at me the value of my own. A personal note of thanks to Mr. Luing for introducing me, through this publication, to the concept of creative rage in the face of adversity. I will carry it with me forever.
David D. Warner, Washington,D.C.
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Philip D. Hughes-Luing