Love is such a funny thing.
Sometimes it’s grand and obvious, on display for anyone with eyes to see. It’s big gestures and overt displays, outspoken proclamations and expressive affection. Other times it’s subtle idioms and quiet efforts that hide behind the overgrown grasses of a life that carries on daily, with or without our participation.
When it’s not all dressed up and on stage, it’s there peeping from behind the curtains, finding quiet moments to trickle out into the room and fill all the empty spaces. It can be so quiet, in fact, so unassuming and subtle that if you’re not paying attention you miss it altogether. You wonder if it’s there. You start to question how it should look and feel, and if you’re lucky maybe you find its hiding places. But sometimes, and I think this is the downfall of many modern couples, you don’t. You think if I can’t see it, it must mean it doesn’t exist. It’s so easy these days to get caught up in external interpretations of what love is and should look and feel like. It’s easy to lose faith.
I know because I’ve done it.
I‘ve had a love on fire—red hot and on display for all who cared to watch. It was palpable, almost, and so visceral that it was pretty impossible to deny. But the foundation was built in sand and it wasn’t very long before the house began to crumble. It was haphazardly built and sprinkled with love in corners where it could be seen from across the room, which over time were visited less and less frequently. They became overshadowed by the corners that were empty, filling up only with dust that I constantly had to clean, attending to it on my own time and again. And so, over time, the house became decrepit and lopsided and when I lost all feeling of security and support, I left. Just before it fell apart on top of me.
I chose to come back into the harbour and stepped foot on solid ground again and at first it felt so firm. I struggled to see the value in solidity, in a strong but calming and stable love that sits beneath the burning embers and also above them. The type of love that fills a room as air does, finding itself in every space but hardly noticeable until it’s time to take a breath. No it doesn’t just look like flowers just because and doing whatever I ask. It doesn’t sound like I’m the most perfect human to ever walk the Earth, and it doesn’t look at me like it’s mating season.
It also looks like making time when there is none, making plans and making space. It looks like always answering when I call and encouraging me to do the things I love. It looks like inspiration through action and hard work. It looks like having hard conversations over and over if need be, without a single word of insult exchanged. It looks like finding ways to be better and wanting to start over to make sure it is. And it looks at me like we could do good on this Earth together, as partners.
I didn’t interpret these things as love because I’d gotten so used to them. I thought it was just the way it is and that there wasn’t necessarily any element of romantic love in there. Perhaps it isn’t the passionate love that everyone likes to dream of and look for. But it’s the kind that lasts a lifetime. Calm, ubiquitous, and unwavering. Hard to find. Impossible to force. Peaceful to navigate.
As for the romance? I think we can find it again through time spent. Under the watchful detailed eye of two people who want it.
The question is: do we?