This past Monday, I had the pleasure and privelege to read and discuss Love Junkie for a packed house at CalStateLA's groovy Student Union. Rhonda Mitchell, a way cool and super-talented former writing student of mine from Mediabistro's 12-Week Novelist Bootcamp before Writers On Fire was born, invited me. The event was part of their ongoing Cup of Culture series at the Cross Cultural Center.
We thought maybe there'd be 10-20 students dropping in between classes. Mostly writers. Instead, it was standing room only and they sold out of books. The students' palpable hunger for straight talk about love and sex, romance and relationships from an older adult perspective was beyond inspiring. "Tell us what 'Sex and the City' doesn't talk about," they said. To illustrate how love junkieness can take root in childhood, I read a bit from the Blue Flame chapter, then a section about the boy with the longest eyelashes in the world, my six-year-old crush. Fielded questions about relationships. Addiction. Attachment. Students opened up with amazing courage. Some cried as they shared about being involved with people who didn't treat them right and yet they couldn't stop going back. I also read from the Phuket section. It's so important to let go of judgment, shame. What better way than sharing such a story. One girl told me afterwards that she was so inspired she was going to start a blog about relationships. No longer would she waste all her time chasing phantom love.
Here's what Rhonda said the students wrote in their evaluations:
1) I learned the true definition of a love junkie
2) I learned that you should love yourself first
3) I learned that love can turn into an obsession
4) I learned about the complexity of relationships and love
5) I learned that love can be addictive
They rated their interest in this event as “high.” They thought the length of the event was “just right.” They also rated you as “excellent. They would make no changes to the event.
Glad I didn't know they were evaluating me as I was presenting!
Days later, I am even more inspired and certain that colleges and other young adults would benefit from this frank discussion of love addiction. What a perfect way to prepare for returning to the Yale University campus tomorrow for SWAY, Sex Week At Yale http://www.sexweekatyale.com/schedule/ -- a weeklong exploration of intimacy, relationships, sex and love featuring everyone from transgendered sex workers to cultural anthropologist and love expert Dr. Helen Fisher. I'm honored to have a chance to bring honest talk about love and sex and romance addiction to people who're young enough to wake up and change the course of their lives. It will be my first time returning to the Yale campus after graduating a quarter century ago.
As I wrote in student book inscriptions, here is a virtual Valentine for us all:
Remember to love yourself first.