True Romance

30 08 2012

If you spend any time on dating sites, you invariably run into the concept of romance.  I get asked sometimes if I’m a romantic, or how romantic I am.  I usually come off as some sort of crank because I mostly have no use for the conventional trappings of romance – chocolates or flowers on their own do nothing for me.  Now, if you were to bring me a box of Godiva chocolate because you know I’m in the grips of PMS?  Now you’re talking.  It’s not the romance that impresses me.  It’s the thought, the effort,knowing that someone has paid attention and has thought about just the right response.

A story:

Back when I was engaged to my late husband, he was working at a company in St. Louis, and I was in graduate school in Pittsburgh.  (And the wedding was in Chicago.  Good times.)  We had gotten pretty good at the long distance thing, albeit with some whining.  But there were times, like around Valentine’s Day, where I felt especially put-upon.  With the wedding still three months away, my fiancé on a business trip, and me trapped in a western Pennsylvania winter that felt like it was never going to end, I spent the day feeling sorry for myself.  I went home after my classes and sulked.  That night my doorbell rang, and there stood the man I most wanted to see – holding a Valentine card and saying  “I couldn’t find a stamp.”

A second  story:

When our son was born, I was on maternity leave for about six weeks.  Since my husband was working and had to get up early in the morning, I was the one who got up with our newborn for night time feedings.  Any new mother can probably tell you what those nights are like – I could wax poetic about the wonders of bonding with this new life in the middle of the night (and it did happen) but there were also those times when I felt as alone as a person could be, looking out the window and wishing that I could see even one other window with a light on.  I remember several nights of sitting with our son in my arms, and realizing that another presence had arrived in the room… my husband sitting on the floor inside the door to our son’s room, saying “I thought you’d like some company.”

A third story:

Yesterday was one of those days when my son and I managed to miss each other in spite of living in the same house.  I left for work before he got up, and he had an appointment after work, so I left for rehearsal before he got home.  And then I got home after he had already gone to bed.  As I was puttering around the house and getting ready for bed myself, I heard steps on the stairs, and there was my son sleepy-warm and blinking, saying “I didn’t get to see you all day.”

That third story was 24 years after the second story.  He is very much his father’s child.

It’s not about the romance.  It’s about love, and knowing someone so well that you can find just that thing they need, sometimes the thing that they don’t know themselves or won’t even ask for.  Don’t bring me flowers.  Grand gestures on their own mean nothing.  Show me that you love me, that you know me , that you care, that I matter.

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