(My lovely friend, Kim Michele Richardson, issues Valentine’s Day prompts. And so, I write.)
I am not very romantic. Also, I’m so selectively sentimental that I couldn’t fault anyone for wondering what manner of shabby, rusty-hinged strongbox holds my shriveled little raisin of a heart.
But I do love. Make no mistake, I love most fiercely. And I love most matter-of-factly.
Love, like most everything else outside of oatmeal and arch supports, has both a mystical and a practical side. What separates love from the summer wind, though, is that its workaday aspects are too often overlooked and, more importantly, too often underappreciated.
To be sure, lush verse on the kindness of a sun-kissed breeze reveals God’s own contented sighs, but still, no one seems to forget that a windmill can run your generator and a hurricane can blow your house down.
Love, on the other hand, is almost universally represented in glowing intangibles this time of year. The lofty promise of romantic connection gets tangled up in the hope of one soul relieving another of fundamental solitude. I would probably debate whether that is even possible and I’d likely take up the position that it’s not. Solitary confinement in our own heads is, I believe, the font of both creativity and madness, but that’s not a Valentine’s Day concern.
There is no finer feeling than the tingling gold geyser of requited attraction. The magic in a dose of narcotic or the esoteric revelations after a thimbleful more red wine than you should have had also fall into that same category, albeit a bit lower down in nobility. And yet, these drugs come with warning labels reminding us of the danger in disrespecting the very practical chemistry that we’re playing with.
Addiction to a notion can be as toxic as dependency on a pill or a potion. But what anchors a dream? What tips the high end of the fairytale seesaw so we can climb aboard? It’s reality that does it. Hammers and nails. Bread and butter. Death and taxes. Food, water, and shelter. And it’s not as sad as it sounds.
Love is most definitely that sudden swooping through your midsection when eyes lock across a table or a crowded room. It is the uncertain certainty that no one else could make you feel this way. It’s proof of a soul, if you’re looking for proof. It’s all of these things.
But it is also picking up your socks and not withholding courtesy. Love is in the not snarling at the end of a tough day and it’s in making a shared space a better place than, say, the train queue or the PTA meeting or the wait on the tarmac for clearance from flight control. Love lives in the ‘please’ and the ‘thank you’ and ‘can I get you something while I’m up’. And, if you enjoy heat measured in Farhenheit (or Celsius) and not just its sexy metaphorical cousin, these things are as fine as all the soft-focus moments of understanding; just as good as all the fairy tales.
By all means, send flowers this Valentine’s Day. Have a candlelit dinner or add a plush teddy bear to the collection. Tell your loved one of his or her beauty. But beyond that, love this Valentine’s Day. It makes the world go ‘round, but more in the nut n’ bolts way than a lacy greeting card might lead you to appreciate.
If you don’t love the daily maintenance of Love, I promise it will disappoint you.