Thursday, February 14, 2013

It's all about the ♥

I have got a Waitrose special Valentine's meal deal for two for twenty quid.  If you want to know what's on the menu (and why wouldn't you?) it is: a starter of smoked salmon and lemon pate, main course of Gressingham duck (red cabbage + mangetouts), dessert of chocolate and passionfruit assiette.  Plus a box of Belgian chocolates and a bottle of Rioja.  Candles, incense and music I got, plus partner. We have been together for over thirty years, and twenty eight years ago, having stated very clearly at the outset that he would never want to marry, he proposed to me.  Never mind that it took more than eight years for us to get round to doing it, and by then our two children were born and old enough to come to the wedding dressed in elephant suits.  The gesture counts. 

Romantic love - the heightened kind that has the power to transform your world.  It isn't just about me and him.  It isn't just about you and whoever you are with, wish you were with, desire, yearn for, think about in secret, blast with curses and tears, celebrate in sweetness and flowers.  In every good friend I have had since childhood there has been an element of romantic love.  The freckled red-head who built dens in the bracken made something happen to my heart (I could feel it filling up) when she called me her best friend, and again when she later chose someone else instead of me.  The friend who moved schools to be with me, and whose trust I betrayed.  The ones who matter, and not just the friends and lovers.  The niece who stares at you as though seeing you for the first time and says she loves your face. The small sister with a fever who waits up late for you to come home from boarding school. The children.  On bonfire night, a few days after my daughter's birth, I felt every firework in the sky (seen from a hospital window) was incandescent with the fact of her existence.  When my newborn son first looked at me I understood afresh what it meant to know someone - the shock of recognition.  And what about the brief encounters, the connections that are good for nothing but the particular moment, which might be in a train, a conference hall or a post office queue?  Times when you catch a person whole, or they catch you, though nothing comes of it that you can name, but something is changed - the heart is stretched, made bigger.  Perhaps not romantic love, but almost. 
And the animals, can I mention them?  Not just my own cat who loves, in her fashion, and though it is to some extent about the food, it is more than this (I meet her at the point of need and she restores my soul); once you really love an animal, you learn how to love the others more, even if you are a lapsed vegetarian.  It's a hard world, and ultimately (as someone said to me the other day), we all forgive each other.  I don't yet believe this, but I want to.  Perhaps this is a step away from romantic love.  And so is Raymond Carver's 'Late Fragment', but I will put it here all the same.

                           And did you get what
                           you wanted from this life, even so?
                           I did.
                           And what did you want?
                           To call myself beloved, to feel myself
                           beloved on the earth.


Anna MR said...

Okay. It goes without saying that I am a soft so-and-so, but I have tears now. You write so beautifully.

And what's more, you said pretty much what I was thinking I might want to say, today, if I could get myself round to posting, Blogstasi or no Blogstasi – only you say it better, fuller. But if I would have written, it was going to be about friendship, also, rather than romantic love. Imagine my startled delight of recognition, when I saw you'd written about friendship.

Did I ever tell you we (igloo-land) never used to really celebrate Valentine's Day, when I was a child? And then while I was gone, they started to, only they call it "Ystävänpäivä" – Friend's Day. People say, hyvää ystävänpäivää to each other, or send emails or texties. And although the unbearable advert men are doing their best to get us to buy our friends a BMW or a box of heart-shaped something-or-anothers for ystävänpäivä, I do kinda like the general idea of having a day earmarked for celebrating friendship. Yea verily.

So you know, Hyvää ystävänpäivää, Signs my dear ystävä. I am happy and privileged to have you as my friend.


(Oh and. I mean no disrespect to the dude – he does a grand job, methinks. But misheard lyrics are just something that I find tooooo funny.)

Reading the Signs said...

Oh, love it, love it - will have to share the love and put it up on f/b.

Now ain't that just too synchronicitous that we were thinking along the same lines? I don't know if this gets you off the hook with Blogistasi as regards posting, but I'll put in a word for you - esp as you have said such nice things to me.

Hyvää ystävänpäivää back atcha,ystävä Penguin

(one day will you tell me please how you do that thing with the name and the link?)

cakelady said...

I was fine all day thanks very much but now I'm sad, a nice sad not a horrible one. You cant beat the love of a good cat. Lovely post.

Reading the Signs said...

ystävä Cakelady and you're a lovely an all x

Fire Bird said...

I needed to read this today, tottering back into the world after my flu feeling alienated trying to reconnect. I bought daffodils and the shop was having a power cut and the woman seemed so pleased to sell me daffodils and to tell me how she needed her lunch and was flummoxed by the power cut. Little connections that keep us here (as well as the big ones)

Reading the Signs said...

Fire Bird, I know exactly what you mean. Sometimes (especially very ill times) the little connections are like small, protein-rich meals - sustaining in a way that is very difficult to explain. A small encounter like this can really hit the spot.

Digitalesse said...

Lovely article, Signs. I know that sounds sort of bland and all that, but I mean it. I wish I could find the words to express all these little bits of knowings, feelings and ponderings that light up in my mind but it's not a skill I have ever mastered. My valentine's evening was postponed until Saturday 16th when we had microwave curry (from M&S, so it was very nice), chocolate cake and I chanced a wee glass or two of Merlot. I've rarely touched the stuff since the R-word but I refuse to wimp out totally. What would we do without love, eh?

Reading the Signs said...

Digi, I had a couple of thimblefuls of Rioja :) And re moving the date, I was thinking that a clever thing if going out one year might be to do that on the 13th - Valentine's Eve, as it were.