These days, when my husband and I share affairs of the heart, there is usually anesthesia and a same-day procedure involved.
For us, Valentine’s Day, the fire sale of romantic love, doesn’t speak to a 55-year relationship. Heart-shaped cakes, red roses, pink balloons and chocolates have become cheap (although not inexpensive) symbols of love. We subscribe to a more expansive view of love that includes authentic moments, nourishing memories and new experiences in the world. We learned during the pandemic that a brilliant TV movie or a sighting of a comet in a dark sky can trigger the same endorphins as “love.” It all counts.
One of the unintended consequences of living in the time of Covid-19 is an impatience with posturing and a desire for genuine emotion. Let’s sift through the dross of recent weeks for the gold nuggets. Think for a moment of the intense super-joys that give value to your days — the gifts that Hallmark and Godiva cannot confer.
These past few weeks, I have been leading a book discussion group. I do this all the time, but suddenly this year the group is intensely wonderful. The people in our circle jelled. The talk is fast, funny and wicked smart. Maybe it seems odd to think of this meet-up in terms of love, but we need all the love we can gather, and we each get to define our own experiences.
Other random love bombs:
Last week I caught a glimpse of the green-hued comet that last visited earth in prehistoric times. It was a momentary sighting, but I thought to myself, “Be still my heart” when I spotted the ball of dust and ice that won’t swing by this way again for 55,000 years. What a show.
Two weeks ago, I saw “Shades of Spring,” a new ballet choreographed by Jessica Lang. During a fairly dull week of subpar weather, a week I would give a C+, the evening of dance was a breakout moment. The performance captivated every sense and held our attention until the last bow. It was love.
Then there is Rachel Maddow. She makes my Mondays, which are the only days she’s on the air at MSNBC with commentary about the dreaded news. An investigative pit bull with a smile on her face and a crisp sense of humor, Maddow helps mitigate the despair I feel after an intemperate eruption from Marjorie Taylor Greene. Maddow’s wit is dead on, and she is rigorous in her craft. I would not want to be in her sights, but I love being in her audience.
My life would be different, and less joyful, without Lillybee, our 5-year-old Coton. I don’t need to explain this to dog lovers. And I can’t explain it to non-dog-lovers. We celebrated her birthday Feb. 1 with a heavy spoonful of shredded pork in her kibble. I heard her whisper, “Be still my heart.”
I love our expanding daylight, which translates to elevated moods, for me and everyone else. There is just no boogying to the 4:30 p.m. Sunset Blues. The happy dance must wait for the sun to travel closer, and it is, by the minute, and I love it.
Another love bomb in my life is pasta al dente, still the most delicious, cheapest meal in America. When I’m ready to take on some carbs, a half-box of pasta with olive oil, parsley and garlic is sublime. Anytime we lust for linguine, we have this, right here in all our lives, and it is an affair of the heart as much as the belly.
Great books are the red roses that never fade. Consider the books I talked about this month: “The All of It,” by Jeannette Haien; “The Glass Hotel,” by Emily St. John Mandel; “Lila,” by Marilynne Robinson; and “Drag your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead,” by Olga Tokarczuk. The joy of disappearing into a book, giving up one’s grounding in time and space, is a gift. Then to talk about it with like-minded readers? Enchanting.
Wordle and Spelling Bee, my twin obsessions, have the best words. For the uninitiated, these are New York Times daily word games. And they’re like crack. You can’t stop. When you figure out the puzzle, the rush is unmistakable and familiar: love.
From the ridiculous to the sublime: I embrace my friends on Valentine’s Day and every day, don’t you? They can love anybody, and they choose you, and me.
Hold them close, every precious one.
Copyright 2023 Randi Kreiss. Randi can be reached at email@example.com.