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Mad, Passionate, Extraordinary Love

15 February 2011 34 Comments

This is a guest post from Pas de Deux series contributor Ashley Ambirge

The word “love” used within this context refers to romantic love. Not mother daughter love. Not brother brother love. Not crazy Aunt Susie love. Not love for your pet lobster named Frank, or the tank full of gerbils you kept when you were six. Romantic luvvvv. Because romantic love is the best kind, right? Also, the following is a true story. Save us all.

Once upon a time, I was in love with a (very, very) illegal immigrant.

(Pause. Allow shock to pass. Close jaw.)

His name…was Jonathan.

He was from…Colombia.

And he had…two brothers, Arturo and Marco.


…so I was told.

The night we met, he locked eyes with me from across the dance floor, and didn’t break my gaze as he slowly approached with a sly smile on his face. Charisma and charm just oozed off of him, as he adjusted his tan-colored blazer and black dress shirt underneath, before sliding up to me at the bar, as confident as they are in the movies.




“How else?”

We danced the night away, drunk on gin and rapid-fire chemistry. We drew a crowd, as he spun me in circles to the beat of bachata, stopping me dead, just mere centimeters from his face, his lips gently brushing my cheek, whispering, “I like you, Ashley” in my ear, before spinning me away from him again in a whirlwind of erotic intensity.

By the end of the night, it was as if I had just had the best sex of my life, without so much as having shared a kiss.

I knew nothing about him, except that I needed more.

And more I got.

Candlelit dinners, walks through parks, sensual kisses on street corners, and giggly phone calls lasting well into the night came, and came some more.

I was falling for him, and hard.

And I kept falling for him, even after I found out the truth.

Seven whole months later.

I won’t get into (the extremely juicy) details, but there was a very complex conversation one evening that led to the following (mind-blowing and temporarily stunning) discoveries:

The man I was in love with was not, in fact, from Colombia.

The man I was in love with did not, in fact, have any brothers named Arturo or Marco.

The man I was in love with was not, in fact, in the United States legally.


The man I was in love with was suddenly Mexican.

The man I was in love with had crossed the border illegally with a group of coyotes, just two years prior.

And to top it all off, the man I was in love with?

I didn’t even know his real name.

Because apparently it wasn’t Jonathan.

It was Lorenzo.

The Middle Finger ProjectSo what do you do when the person you’re in love with, is suddenly someone else? What do you do when nothing about your hard-won love is stable & secure? What do you do when all of your dreams of happily-ever-after now involve nightmares of border patrol, false identifications, and running from the law indefinitely?

I’ll tell you what you do.

You take (several) shots of tequila, pull on your big girl boots, take a deep breath, and you go on loving them anyway.

Because when you love someone the way I loved Jonathan Lorenzo, you just can’t help it.

And for me, this is what love is.

Not being able to help it.

Of course, around the world, love means different things to different people.

Everyone’s got a slightly different definition, yet, most would probably agree that true love is gentle and kind, supportive and wholesome, strong and stable. Right? I mean, that’s what’s usually touted as “real love,” isn’t it?

*takes last drag of imaginary cigarette, throws it to ground, stomps it out with the heel of bright red pump*

I disagree.

*pulls another cigarette from pack, lights it, blows thick cloud of smoke into the air*

Not for one minute do I believe that love is gentle. Not for one minute do I believe that love is kind. Not for one minute do I believe that love is supportive. Nor wholesome. Or strong. Nor stable.

I do not believe that love is any of these things–nor should it be.

Because real love CAN’T be.

It’s contrary to reason.

We like to imagine love as if it were a tangible thing; something that we can hold onto and never let go, something we can mold to our will and something we can summon when necessary.

But love is not tangible. And we can’t hold onto it, we can’t mold it, and we certainly can’t summon it.

It is, rather, a vivid collection of emotions, one that courses through your veins and lands like an atomic bomb in the center your heart when you least expect it.

It’s the tenderness you feel when he looks at you in just the right way.

It’s the anxiety that comes as you await his arrival.

It’s the affection you feel when he tenderly kisses your forehead at night.

It’s the profound sense of respect you have as you watch him work late into the night.

And the even more profound sense of desire you have once he finally climbs into bed thereafter.

It’s the curiosity to hear about his deepest, most inner thoughts.

And the anger when he tells you something you didn’t want to hear.

It’s the hope that there’ll be a future somewhere for you both, somewhere, somehow.

And it’s the sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach that there might not be one.

It’s the overwhelming urge to want to be his everything.

And it’s the overwhelming fear that maybe you aren’t.

And, it is the dread when he tells you seven months later that his name isn’t actually Jonathan.

Love is an emotional force.

As an emotional force, love is violently fragile. It’s uncontrollably volatile. It’s fiercely erratic. It’s highly unpredictable.

Because emotions are fragile. Volatile. Erratic. Unpredictable.

Love is the exact opposite of stable and supportive. Love being described as such is an oxymoron, at best, a comforting belief at worst.

Knowing this, I choose to accept love for what it is: A beautiful, but often fleeting, manifestation of emotions, one that has the power to devastate without a moment’s notice, but also one that can provide for a deeper, more meaningful human experience.

And that’s what this is all about, after all, isn’t it?

A meaningful human experience.

It isn’t about feeling safe. It isn’t about being protected. It isn’t about the traditional fairytale of love, where mommy and daddy never falter, and their picket fence never weathers.

It’s about feeling alive.

It’s about surrendering yourself, completely and wholly, to the hope that maybe, just maybe, that someone will come along who shakes up your stable existence, and rearranges your entire reality.

Splintering you into pieces, and revealing the beauty of the vulnerability that lies underneath.

That is what we truly want from love. And that is what love–real love–has the potential to give us.

And when you find it, you’ll know.

Because you won’t be able to help it.

Love will have found its way in.

Photo Credits: Getty Images – Jamie Grill & Kyle Hepp

The Middle Finger ProjectPas de Deux Contributor – Ashley Ambirge

Ashley Ambirge is the sassiest writer, entrepreneur & digital strategist on the block. She authors books on leveraging the internet to make a business out of your passions, runs her semi-insane but loveable blog, and does one on one strategy sessions with new bloggers, entrepreneurs & small businesses looking to rock their online space with the brilliance of a diamond (and finally make some damn money). She’ll also kick your ass at beer pong without batting an eyelash. Just the facts, Jack.

Song: No Fear of Heights by Katie Melua

34 Responses to “Mad, Passionate, Extraordinary Love”

  1. Ash says:

    Thank you, Elisa, for the wonderful opportunity to contribute to such a fantastic series! Hell, I need to talk about love more often. 😉

  2. […] here to keep on reading my entry on love for the Pas de Deux series hosted by the one and only Elisa Doucette of Ophelias […]

  3. Kena says:

    Love can totally f you up can’t it? I love Ash even more after reading this candid story. Great series Elisa!

  4. Ahhhhhhh what’s the ending to the story!?! I want to know more! I couldn’t agree with you more on your thoughts re: love. Preach it sista!!!

  5. Amanda says:

    “It’s contrary to reason.

    It’s about surrendering yourself, completely and wholly, to the hope that maybe, just maybe, that someone will come along who shakes up your stable existence, and rearranges your entire reality.”

    You are a fabulous writer and have captured Love in one of its truest and rawest forms. I’m thrilled you have this love in your life! Best of luck to you!

  6. Ash says:

    Thanks, Amanda! Unfortunately this love has already passed, but I’m currently living in South America – another can’t be very far off. 😉

  7. ExpatOnTheGo says:

    Absolutely LOVE the love list. I can feel your free spiritedness in this piece!!!!

  8. brownsugar says:

    This is the best Pas de deux post so far in my opinion. Thank you Ashley!

  9. Kat says:

    I loved hearing this story! As I was reading I thought, oh no, no! He’s still the same person even if his background is different! So of course I was very happy with the ending.I really loved this story because once upon a time I just so happened to fall in love with an illegal immigrant myself. No, scratch the “once upon a time” becuase I still am, and through all not kind and gentle moments we are happily married.

    Fortunatley though we met in a much more immigrant-friendly country and he felt that he could tell me right away. It’s sad though how people really do gasp when they find out he was illegal. Does a person’s residency status change what you love about them? of course not! As always, thanks for sharing so much of yourself with us Ashley!

  10. Grace Boyle says:

    Wait, wait, wait! I want to know what happened with Jonathon Lorenzo. Isn’t that part of it? That love is rough, vulnerable, intense, wild, etc. but what happens in the end? Does it last? It can last? Does it break us? Does it lift us? Probably all the above…

    This is amazing.

    • Ash says:

      Grace, the end of the story is that in the end, Jonathan Lorenzo almost took my life one night when I came home late. The bruises on my neck from nearly being strangled were there for days.

      Clearly I don’t play that game.

      So, that was the end.

  11. Diana says:

    Oh girl, every day I find more things we have in common! (I’m actually in Scranton right now.)

    We’ll have to talk about my latin lover one day.

    AND, oh hell yea to the love list – NOT EASY – but totally worth the variety of flooding emotions.

  12. Ash,

    Fabulous post!! Minus the illegal immigrant part, I’ve definitely felt the full range of emotions you’ve described here. (And my husband actually is Colombian 😉 ) 

    I went from the fairytale idea of love to raw, passionate love. Now that I’ve been married for almost 3 years, I feel as though I’m experiencing a different kind of love. Sure, maybe it is safe and secure, but more than anything, it’s the kind of love that springs from a deep connection and understanding of another person. I’ve gone from feeling like I couldn’t live without this person to feeling like I could…rather, I wouldn’t be complete without him (trying not to sound Jerry Maguire-cheesy here). 

    Anyhow, all I’m saying is that it seems like life brings a different experience of love at different ages and phases of our lives…all of them amazing in their own way. 

  13. Noel says:

    What a challenging piece that knocks down the conventions of what love is supposed to be. I really, really felt this all the way down to my toes.

  14. Erica says:

    This is fantastic! I always say that love is being able to put up with each other through the worst of times. Not everyone is in it for the long haul!


  15. Adrian says:

    Gotta love it how beautiful writing can turn a crappy story into an inspiring poem. Doesn’t make the fable any less sillier though.

    Now granted that is my personal view on the whole shebang – i know few people adhere to it – don’t flame me for going against the establishment.

    Reading through your tale i see it pretty clearly. Guy meets girl. Girl has needs. Guy meets girl’s needs. She calls it mad love.

    Nothing wrong with that – it takes time to realize you’re a needy person and stop chasing around other people to fulfill those needs – it doesn’t happen overnight. So you might just as well call it love.

    The problem I have with the whole story – the guy is feeding your lies from the very first day you met. And he didn’t stop. Only after – how many months?

    I don’t want to know the reasons he was lying – i dont need to know – bottom line he was doing it. By that token you could have fallen in love with any other imaginary character – they say what you want to hear but that’s all there is to it. A lie. Imagination.

    Because that begs the question – what else was he lying about? What else was he faking? In my humble opinion there is no wonder the relationship ended the way it did.

    Bottom line I just don’t see how any healthy person can build a relationship based on lies. For me that is the utmost starting requirement. Truth comes first. As ugly as it might be. If my true self is not out there – then who my partner is with in this relationship?

  16. Ash says:



    Regardless of the outcome, I was still in love; and this is about love, not relationships, and/or the validity of my feelings.

    • Adrian says:

      @Ash: the previous comment was just my 2 cents. Take it for what us worth.

      You say it’s about love not relationship but you describe a relationship at its turning point. You were in love AND in a relationship. Some months down the road a tough decision comes up when you find out he’s lying. What do you do? “put on your big girl boots” and keep on loving him and stay in the relationship anyway.

      Well if in your “true love” definition “you can’t help it” anyway then what was the decision about? Love was there to stay as you were helpless about it then it must been you actually only decided if to continue being with him in a relationship or not. After all – you could have very well keep on loving him while sending him away.

      I don’t know – honestly – I just don’t like the underlying reason of the story, the “you can’t help it” bit. It’s the excuse of every drug and alcoholic addict out there “but I can’t help it man” and every abused wife and girlfriend “I know he can be like that but I love him”.

      I wonder what made you leave at the end? Him abusing you seem to have ended the “you can’t help it bit”? Lying is an acceptable compromise but abuse is where we draw the line? I thought it’s about love, and risk taking … what’s more adventurous and risk taking than knowing your love can kill you any time? Hmm …

      @Caitlin: independent and needy touch on two separate issues and are not mutually exclusive. One can be “fiercely independent” and emotionally needy at the same time. Put that dictionary to good use.

  17. Caitlin says:

    I really enjoyed this post. For some reason when I think of fairytale/movie love, I actually think of the sort of crazy, on the edge of your seat sort of love you describe. I had it once, and it was scary and exhilarating and wonderful all at once. And while it ended, I don’t regret a minute of it! But people are constantly telling me that it isn’t a ‘healthy’ love and ‘healthy’ relationships are stable, secure, gentle, etc. I’ve had those sorts of relationships and they really bored me. I thought something was wrong with me that I still crave the sort of swept off your feet love you describe, but I feel like since I’ve had it, I really want it again!

    Maybe different people require different types of love? I know people who genuinely seem to want the sort of safe, solid love, and are horrified by the thought of the uncertainty of the whirlwind romance I desire! These are generally people who think I’m too adventurous and perhaps a little insane for travelling the world by myself… So I wonder if it just depends on the person.

    P.S. The comment calling you needy made me laugh. From your writings on TMFProject you seem fiercely independent!

  18. Victoria says:

    I understand those that talk about responsibility and support and all of that middle-class marriage-type thinking… but not every love or relationship is for marriage or the long term; and not every point of view is valid for every person. Some of us actually like feeling alive and free and crazy on occasion. Want staid and complacent? Become a banker. Otherwise – let yourself go on occasion and to hell with the rules.

    Embrace love and life and don’t be afraid of risk. Yeah, it might end in emotional disaster, but man… what a ride! If nothing else, think of what kind of stories you’ll have to tell when you’re older. Banker stories or “man, there was this one guy…” I know which one I’ll want to hear. Great post, Ashley.

    • Victoria – That is one of the things I loved about this piece as well. Not every love needs to be that sweet steady relationship for the long term love. Some are the mad, passionate, extraordinary ones that sweep us up in their whirling and even though we occasionally notice we are hundreds of feet above reality twisting around, it is still an exhilarating feeling.

      With all the people living all these lives in all these places on the planet, there is surely going to be lots of different love situations. None are more or less worthy, and they all have something to add to our lives.

  19. […] the time I fell in uncontrollably in love with an illegal Mexican immigrant who lied to me for 7 months about his real […]

  20. Mazarine says:

    I love how you wrote this Ash.
    Oh I have had my share of crazy love stories that didn’t work out.

    One in particular springs to mind. I was going on a date with someone from the internet. The city had just been covered in snow. I got to the bar and saw him glowing in a white shirt in the dimness, drawing at a table. He was an illustrator. He seemed friendly. We went back to his apartment, not far from there, so he could show me some more of his work. (I can hear EVERYONE saying, “YEAH, RIGHT” but honestly, I’m not that kind of girl.)

    So anyway we got there, and he wanted to give me some wine, (and I don’t drink) so I declined. He put on some late 70s mood music, and tried to kiss me. And I ran out.

    But somehow, I agreed to see him again, and after awhile, it was pretty obvious we were going out. About a month later, I went out to meet someone new, and as I was biking home, i got a phonecall. In the rain. On a bridge.

    I saw it was him so I picked up and said, “Oh hey” and he said, “Who were you with? Were you cheating on me? Where are you?!” and this really should have been an alarm.

    I said, “I just made a new friend” and tried to calm him down, and eventually the only way I could calm him down was by going over there right then. He continued pressuring me to drink and move in with him. A week or two later, I decided to break up with him. He started stalking me, texting me, emailing me these ridiculous full-on incoherent rants, and waiting outside my apartment for me to come back, leaving things on my doorstep, until I was afraid to go home at night.

    Yeah, he was a winner. But I thought I had to let him down easy. I tried emailing him back and just saying it was over, but he took that as even more fuel for more rage-filled diatribes. Finally, 6 months after I had broken up with him, after I had moved 2,500 miles away, I got an email from him holding out the olive branch. My response? “Do not contact me again.” And he hasn’t. Thank god.

    I hope my story can serve as a warning. When people won’t take no for an answer, when the signs are there, when you get these little alarm bells and you ignore them, bad shit happens. I hope anyone reading this realizes they need to listen to their gut, and if someone tries to control you, or something doesn’t feel good, GET OUT.

    I’m so glad you shared your story, and thanks for giving me a place to share mine.


  21. Ash says:

    Wow! What a story. Goes to know that “knowing a person” is far different from actually knowing a person. *sigh*

    Thank you for sharing this!

  22. […] Enjoy the present, which includes chocolate, yoga, and, according to Ashley Ambirge, foreign love affairs. […]

  23. kms says:

    I believe i am falling for one man as well. wow. this really touched me. thank you for writing something so beautiful, and so true.
    I dont care what everyone says, I LOVEE an ILLEGAL immigrant. we are both young, and we will do great things together.
    i am blessed.

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