Love, Despite Efforts to the Contrary

I didn’t want to fall in love. Fresh out of a long distance relationship on life support, I wanted freedom, space, and a chance to be unattached- for the first time in my adult life. I didn’t want you. Okay, I wanted you, but I didn’t want to love you.

Three weeks after our mutual interest was acknowledged, I was in trouble. I knew you for two years as a fellow student in my major- not studying in the library, screwing around in piano class, playing Frisbee on the lawn.  But as soon as I got close enough to smell your laundry soap, I couldn’t get close enough.over-the-town-1918.jpg!Large

I fought it. I told myself your earring was ridiculous. You weren’t a serious student and what did that say about your ability to make the most of life, which demands more grit than does college? You were newly released from a 4-year relationship that had run its course and you were ready to sew some oats; everyone around you could feel it. You would, rightly, not be serious about me and, if you did fall for me, you would be fickle and lose interest before long.

To protect myself, I held this picture of you in front of my mind’s eye every day. I believed the intellect had a big say in who I would “choose” to love. Love is too impactful to be left to the heart. Yet, while my mind raged against it, ringing alarm bells that I wasn’t ready for this, you couldn’t possibly want it, I was being a silly ass, there was no way I wasn’t going to get hurt- my heart, body, and soul were quickly losing their protective armor and becoming the terrifyingly vulnerable things that they are in love.

I was mad. You asked me what was wrong and I told you that I was falling in love with you and it pissed me off. And then I may have listed my reasons why- to your face. You looked at me and said, “I love you too.” That was it. There I went, over the precipice, never to return, still a little miffed by my lack of control.

This partnership is the greatest blessing of my life. The faults my “clear-thinking” mind found in you turned out to be trivial or wrong. You took the earring out when you changed careers. You are a capable and skilled man and you work harder than most people I know. Most of all, you are true- loyal to us and devoted to the family we’ve grown. You are a better match for me than I ever imagined and I love you without reservation. Finally.

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Happy Anniversary, Hot Swede. I know how you love public displays of affection. But since you won’t hold my hand in home improvement stores, I’m putting it here. Tee hee.

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Getting the Girl You’ve Got

End table- really, I have no idea what graphic to put here, but isn't it purdy?

End table- really, I have no idea what graphic to put here, but isn’t it purdy?

The other day, Hot Swede and I were having a discussion about end tables (titillating, I know,) when he started in on a story from his boyhood.

He told me of a six-year old Cute Swede, playing alone in his parents’ basement, wondering if the story about the boy crying, “Wolf!” was true, if people would come running if he cried out. So he laid himself out, limbs akimbo, and screamed for help. It worked! Dad came running down the stairs, and after assessing the situation, became very angry.

It was my first hearing of that story, and it made him utterly charming. What a nice thing- to discover an amusing new detail about a treasured companion I know so well. For those moments of the telling, he was new to me, and I was as smitten as ever.

Happy V.D.!


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           I dislike Valentine’s Day. I won’t say “hate” because my mom taught me that “hate” is a very strong word reserved for murderous dictators and steamed zucchini. It is a common rant during the first half of February. Considering the numbers of bitter people who complain about the day, I am a little flummoxed as to why it continues to be such a commercial success. I’m going to blame idealistic young women and the men who want to get them in bed.

I like love as much as anybody. I like romance. I like adoration. I like Hot Swede smiling in the candlelight. I like chocolate (dark, at least 70% cacao.) I am not jaded when it comes to love. But since my youth, I’ve found V.D. tiresome. (The double entendre tickles my personal fancy. Indulge me in the spirit of the holiday.)

For one thing, there is all the expectation, the joy killing expectation. A big part of romance is spontaneity.  Doing something lovely for someone because you are motivated by your affection for them, not because it is Feb. 14 and, well, if you don’t come up with something wonderful, she will be disappointed and sulky and your life will be unpleasant for awhile. That isn’t romance. That is a pain avoidance mechanism.

Then there are the traditional gifts. For women, collections of cheap chocolate in expensive boxes are de rigueur. What is the point of giving a woman who is barely hanging on to her 6-week old weight loss resolutions a pound of chocolates? It is not nice. The worst part about the actual confections are the mystery fillings. The cheaper the chocolate, the more mysterious the filling, oozy viscous creams are common, and while the white is suggestive, the pink is off putting. Is that penicillin? My other favorite filling is toothpaste. Delish.

The worst possible V.D. gift is the teddy bear. This one makes me cringe. As far back as middle school, I remember girls getting teddy bears from boys and thinking, “If a boy ever gives me a teddy bear for Valentine’s Day, it’s going to be hard to act pleased with it.” Lucky for me, I never had to face that scenario. (Not bitter, I promise.) A couple things are wrong with a teddy bear, but the first one is that it is a gift for A CHILD, and a young one at that. Grown women with jobs and children, advanced degrees and mortgages, women who have yearly visits to the gynecologist and wax their own moustaches, these are not women with any use for a teddy bear.

The other problem is what you do with it on Feb 15.  You can’t chuck it out or give it to the puppy because it was given in the name of love. So what, it sits on a bookshelf next to Brothers Karamazov? You can’t put it in the glass cabinet, next to your collection of hand-turned bowls. It will most likely just sit on your dresser and gather dust.

For men, (hmm, what do men get.) If they’ve manage to successfully run the obstacle course for a successful V.D., they likely get something non-commercial (I hope) and right in line with what they like.  If they picked the wrong restaurant, or didn’t remember that their partner hates red roses, good luck guys. Maybe there’s something good on Hulu.

So what are reasonable adults to do on Feb. 14? If you have éros, well, enjoy that without the burden of Valentine’s drama. If you have agápe or philia, plan a date for some time in the next couple weeks. Have a nice dinner; write a letter, give a hug. Celebrate with trappings that honor the loves in your life, not the seasonal section at Target. Me, I like a bar of dark chocolate, peach colored roses, and nothing is as sexy as a scoured kitchen sink.