Do you remember your first love? Was it in grade school or when you were an anguished, misunderstood teenager? First loves always involve idealism and romance. Like virginity you lose something of yourself. You trustingly give your whole heart away. Your mind drunk on infatuation and song lyrics.
Do you have a Valentine Day memory that makes you cringe; perhaps a painful public declaration of love that was ignored or laughed at? You might have been on the receiving end and cruelly caused hurt and embarrassment to someone else. In grade 3, my best friend was surprised to receive a whole box of chocolates from some skinny unknown kid. When she returned them unopened he flipped out. Eventually it turned ugly with name calling and the chocolate box being kicked across the school yard. The box was left abandoned in a snow drift. It seems to me that Valentine Day brings out the vulnerability in people. Every year millions of people build up their hopes with unrealistic romantic expectations. Instead of confirming love they feel especially empty and alone.
I remember coming across my young son at about the age of eight. He was sitting at the dining room table pouring over pictures in a jewelery store flyer. I asked him what he was doing and he pointed out a $69.99 gold necklace and heart pendant. “Mom, Do you think this is pretty?” he asked me. “Yes Matthew, but it’s kind of expensive. Why are you asking?” There was a girl at school, he explained. He wanted to give it to her for Valentines Day. Further probing revealed that he had never even spoken to her. He hoped by giving her this necklace all would be explained and love would follow. I think we talked the poor kid down and in the end he kept his savings intact. Matthew gave her a rose. She was a popular girl with many other admirers. Matthew’s grand plan did not work.
A similar wild romantic gesture happened to me. When I was in my twenties an old flame bought out an entire flower shop. He hoped that this grand expression of his love would change my mind. One Saturday afternoon dozen and dozen of roses and spring boutiques were delivered to my door. There was an over abundance of perfume and petals everywhere. Next came the guilty quandary. I had to phone my former boy friend and acknowledge his generous gesture. Sadly I just wanted our relationship to be over. We didn’t get back together again in spite of him having spent hundreds if not thousands of dollars on this showy exhibition.
Yes, love can stink. www.youtube.com/watch?v=3s5xsVHOJQs
In the end I was one of the fortunate ones. I found true love twenty years ago. My life has now settled down with a quiet understanding of what love really is. It is about trust, being yourself, acceptance, compromise, sometimes sacrifice and above all caring about the happiness of another person because it makes you happy and whole.
For me today, true love is your sweet heart clearing a 600 foot path through the snow…. all the way down to the lake so you and your dog have a nice place to walk. How thoughtful. How lucky I am?