By Philip Hughes-Luing
PROMPT — What is Love?
July 23, 2013
San Francisco City Hall (each repeated, one to the other)
Know that my life is devoted to looking out for your best interests, that I will treat your needs and desires as equal to my own, that I will not consider anything good for me if it is not good for us and the life we share; and know that I am secure in the knowledge that the same is true for you with regards to me. Our interactions with others will always be conducted so as to maintain and strengthen the trust we have in each other.
You are the first person with whom I will share a joy or a sorrow, a fear or a conviction. You are the first person to read the story of me as it is written each day, the only person with rights to access all the words as they are laid down, unedited and uncensored, the person I most trust to know, understand and protect the truth of who I am. And I want you to know without question that you may rely on me to be that same person for you. To be true to myself, I must know, understand and protect the truth of who you are.
I gladly make known to the world that you are the keeper of the artifacts of my life, an equal partner in the business of the life we share, an equal voice in how we make and manage our home and all of our belongings. I gladly enter into the annals by which our society is ordered the declaration that you are the person whom I trust to make my decisions and handle my affairs if I am unable to do so for myself, that you are the person to whom I give control even of my body if I am unable to manage it for myself, that you are the person to whom I entrust the closure of my life should you outlive me.
In as many ways as I am able to devise I will bring you pleasure and delight, I will seek to nurture and enliven your spirit, I will celebrate and appreciate your self-expression, I will meet your creative spirit with my own so that together we may discover new ways to explore and understand our connection with Creation and the Creator, the many and one whose soul we share, in whose expression and endurance we participate with our every breath.
We are the known in the unknown. Together we will share unknown blessings, and together we will address unknown challenges. Together we reach beyond ourselves to embrace our shared destiny, whatever that will be. For better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, come what may we are together in history even should death do us part.
These vows I make to you, to honor our love,
Charles Edward (aka Stephen) and Philip Dean Hughes-Luing
Philip Hughes-Luing is an artist and poet who arrived in Albuquerque, New Mexico in October of 2019 and immediately began attending a weekly creative writing group at the Off Center Community Arts Project. He currently serves as Treasurer on OFF Center’s Board of Directors. He has also facilitated a weekly creative writing group at ArtStreet, a free art studio hosted by HealthCare for the Homeless. He grew up in northern Minnesota, attended Cornell College in Mt. Vernon, Iowa, where he earned a B.A. with a double major in Philosophy and Theater in 1979, and was awarded a Master’s in Interdisciplinary Arts from Columbia College of Chicago in 2000. He was also active with New Town Writers, a LGBTQ+ community writing group in Chicago for 20 years. As a visual artist he has concentrated on expressionistic abstract and figurative drawing and painting while living in Portland, Oregon; Arlington, Texas; and Chicago, Illinois. He has compiled a literary memoir of his writings for men he’s loved and grieved, starting at age 17, entitled “Five Names on My Headstone: Ben, Dennis, Jeff, Charles Stephen, & Philip.”