She had me at Hello.
That’s right I said it. The line from the film Jerry Maguire that in an instant became the ridiculed cliché that sent hopeless romantics underground to utter the phrase and wonder at the mere thought of following a man to the ends of the earth because he pushed past cynical girlfriends and machismo to say how he felt. To say it for all the world to hear.
Okay. It was a movie.
But lately my sister and I have noticed how difficult it is to agree on a movie or television show to watch with husbands who relish action that includes death-murder-kills. Even before bedtime.
I hiss my teeth. I read until the shoot out gets too loud. I question why we are watching this then I finally excuse myself. More dramatically than these lines suggest. Every now and again my protest allows me the romcom I then pretend just happens to be on. So I have to admit what I have always known, but haven’t always professed.
I am a romantic. Period.
I love electric glances and needing to hear his voice and the accidental touch that blooms into a first kiss. I love love! And why should I be ashamed? I still remember meeting Ras Baraka during my early poeting days and having him tell me that I needed to write about more serious topics. I didn’t get how he didn’t get that Love is life. It is the creation of new possibilities, a new home, and even the blessing of new life. And whether the haze lifts and you wonder what you were thinking or you grow silvery-gray over countless cups of morning coffee, love is life. It is the adventure that makes you jump out of your skin and follow your heart blindly just to feel and feel amazing. Amazing feeling loved, loving and lovely all at once.
And in Erykah’s Hello, I can’t help but recall the goodbye of “Green Eyes,” on her album Mama’s Gun. I loved Erykah and Andre 3000 together. Drank in their eccentric naturalism as they lived life and music for all of us to see, most poetically in the video for “The Other Side of the Game.” You couldn’t tell me I wasn’t a fly on the wall of their life together. That is how seamless their coupling appeared. Until it wasn’t.
Their ending yielded the most heart-wrenching and authentic break up song to date.
And I felt it. Felt her. Knew the tragic swan song of, I don’t love you anymore. Yes, I do, I think… because I had loved and had hurt and had gambled on remember-when sex, remember-us sex only to add insult to my own injury. Whatever it had been, it was over. And I retreated, swearing off love, but somehow knowing that this moment was as much a part of love and life as the first time I saw him. Sigh. And Miss Badu was creative in her reenactment of lost love: a small voice on a crackling record to dramatize the pouty, “I ‘on’t care” stage of the break up, moody blues confessing her insecurity and finally a desperate crescendo of accusations blaring from the soul. Yes, I felt her!
And years later, having recovered from my share of heartaches, I certainly feel this. The song, Hello opens with Andre 3000’s spitfire flow revealing him as unsure about how much to invest in a relationship he tests with a phone lying within reach, the phone being the end-all, be-all, and his waiting to see how she handles it. The romantic in me wants this new duet to be another peek in. A peek at their–ahem–reconciliation.
But this ain’t no movie man.
What I’m really moved by is that, in real life, their reconciliation was to love. Evidenced by the son they are parenting. A young man now.
Love moved from eros to agape and I am really feeling that. The idea of allowing love to unfurl and become what it intends. In spite of us.
So she sings, “Hello. It’s me. It’s me, baby. I thought about us for a long, long time…” and I draw closer. Cross one leg over the other and lean in. Because the melody has me. It’s hypnotic. Sultry. Then their voices join and I tingle in their sexy confidence as they knowingly tease us romantics to the point of abandon. So we give ourselves over to the healing power of love.