Friday, February 14, 2014
Love v. Romance
I read a lovely essay today, which, if I could find the damn thing again, I would post a link to. But it seems to have disappeared from the interwebs, leading me to wonder if I invented the whole thing inside my brain and it actually never appeared anywhere; I just mentally wrote it and then thought I read it. This leads me, inevitably, to wonder why, if I mentally wrote it and then imagined reading it, I can reproduce no more of it here than a stream-of-consciousness babble of conjecture about what I may or may not have read or imagined, or the aliens that are possibly hijacking my brain.
Anyway, it was a lovely essay even if it was written by brain-hijacking aliens, the gist of it being that the writer felt that Valentine's Day was a holiday of love, not romance, and so she always did something special for her family rather than something specifically romantic with her husband—waffles and strawberries for everyone for breakfast, a flower for each of her daughters, things like that.
In high school I used to wonder why all the girls made such a big fuss about not feeling loved if they didn't have a boyfriend on Valentine's Day, or if he didn't cough up the requisite rose/teddy bear/Whitman's Sampler. "Boyfriend, schmoyfriend," I would think, "don't they know their moms will have candy conversation hearts waiting for them when they get home? How can you feel unloved if your mom gives you candy conversation hearts?"
It took me a number of years to realize that not everyone's mom was handing out those tasty gems to her family in the name of love. While my family thought Valentine's Day was about silly little sugary gestures of love to our fellow family members, half of the rest of the world expected swoon-worthy, cinematic gestures of High Romance from the generally-confused-by-all-this-romance-stuff other half. Also sparkly and/or chocolate-dipped loot.
I admit I like sparkly things very much myself, and I am not above swooning at the truly romantical, but I really think High Romance is best left to those experts in Hollywood who can light it beautifully, give it the best lines their expert screenwriters have to offer, and build it a gorgeous sunset to ride off into. For real, day to day love, on the other hand—the kind that is sometimes unflatteringly lit, that often mumbles and is anyway generally less than eloquent—the kind of love we depend upon as surely as we depend upon drawing breath—well, nothing says that kind of love to me quite like candy conversation hearts.