I’m not what you might think of as a big traditionalist in the ways of romance–at least, if you think of those things packaged in the way that American commercial enterprise would have us think the norm or the appropriate mode. It may be that I’m a little too tomboy at heart and in physique to wear either the girly or the sexy look with any credible panache. There’s more than a small chance that I’m too lazy and cheap to buy cards and flowers for my nearest and dearest with any regularity. Chocolates, yes, but you know that I’m going to expect to share in their consumption. I’m far from selfless enough to be a true romantic either, I guess. Otherwise, around our place the romantic expressions are more often found in filling an empty gas tank, caulking the shower door, making lunch, washing socks. All of that sort of glamorous stuff.
I’m so unromantic in the popular sense, in fact, that despite being both shy and kind of prudish, I moved in with my intended life partner before I married him–yes, before I even warned him of my intent to marry him. Or to stick to him like glue for the rest of my life if he was shy of the whole getting-married thing, having done that before. Despite my love of pomp and circumstance and ritual, I was prepared to forgo the whole dress-up extravaganza and either commit to the partnership in heart and hand only or just keep the legal transactions simple and stand in front of a Justice of the Peace somewhere and then party later with family and friends. (Because, let’s face it, any excuse for a good and love-filled party is not entirely to be passed by, wishes for simplicity aside.)
As it turned out, we had a pretty spectacular wedding day, but it was really icing on the proverbial cake. One of the central beauties of that day was an anthem composed for us by our dear friend, with a text my intended chose from the enigmatic and marvelous Song of Songs that includes the phrase ‘love is as strong as death’–this accompanied by other close friends playing organ and horn and a superb choir of yet more friends (also conducted by the composer). Hard to get more romantic than that. But that was all well after I’d realized that a big spectacle wasn’t necessary to validate the spectacular thing that had already happened within.
All of this because at some point pretty early in our relationship, I knew with complete and unshakeable conviction that when I was with this person I was where I ought to be. It was so clearly and plainly the place and state in which I was meant to exist that I felt it in my bones. I was at home in his house the first time I stopped by for a visit–even though you all know full well that I reinvented that physical space from Day One around the two of us. The music that I heard was not just the glorious sound of his choirs welling up around me but was also a new rhythm in my heartbeat that was more confident, more joyful, and more purely contented than it had ever felt before, in those days before I even knew it could feel this lovely new way. A new sense of the world skewing into proper perspective that suffused my brain.
And that, to me, is how true romance ought to be. Genuinely loving and playful and silly and passionate and supportive and all of that, yes, but most of all, merely having the recognizable quality of a homecoming, every single time we come together. Flowers and candy and frills and thrills are all very welcome in their own right, but they have nothing on a sense of wholeness that only grows with time and no matter how it evolves and changes iterations over the years, will not go away. It is both transcendent and, when it’s so well ingrained and incorporated in the truest sense, also wonderfully, perfectly ordinary.
Today, on my beloved‘s birthday, I have another reason to remember all of the reasons why I am grateful for him and his place in my life and my love–and I in his.
Beloved Mysterious, if you could see
The blood-dark river hid inside of me
With longing deep as chasms unexplored
Through which, from which, in which that love is poured
In endless flood of hope and of desire
As hot and wild and dangerous as fire
Then you would know the depth, the liquid breath
That carries love for you beyond my death.