A little love story for Valentine’s Day

A little love story for Valentine’s Day
                        

Let me tell you a little love story. There was once a couple that fell in love, and as the song goes, they found love in a hopeless place.

She loved his hands and clean-cut way he cared for his fingernails. He would always say her angelic face smiled at him and pulled him out of a dark place. Love is a loaded word because we also love pizza and cookies and giant bowls of ice cream. The shape of love draws your outline on someone else’s heart and embeds there.

He would call her from a darkened payphone booth in the depths of the night and tell her how much he missed her when they were apart. Her heart beat fast thinking of those hands that squeezed hers, always dry and warm, sending lightning bolts right through her.

This is sappy and syrupy, but every love story has its start, and what we do with the entire length of the story is another thing.

Things didn’t remain as heart-shaped as the beginning. Families entered the mix with their fixed ideas of love and marriage, and cultural differences pried apart the ooey-gooey way their eyes once met. Outside influences looked at their relationship and deemed it not normal by local standards, and when they would walk into malls or restaurants, every eye would turn to them and wonder why they were together.

The small pettiness the world placed on their backs, telling them what love should look like, began to weigh heavily on the pair. When two people are the only ones believing their love is valid, that the world is telling them it’ll be too hard, love can dim if you begin to believe it.

So they didn’t.

She had a dress made of ivory satin and he rented a black tux and tie. They wedded in her local small church and ate chocolate cake with lavender flowers. None of his family could come because none of his family was allowed to cross that invisible line called a border. And he felt alone. They drove away in their little blue car, festooned with shaving cream and balloons, to a tiny motel nearby and began their precarious life together. Love, that tenuous thread, stitching them together.

Volatility. Passion. Anger. Love. These things held them apart and close, the storms bringing the sun, the outside forces threatening destruction. Most of all words were said: by others and to each other and the repetition of them in their minds, words that worked to entangle, ensnare and to rip apart what was meant to be. And children, three children, would come and bring them joy and frustration.

Their marriage, despite the things they did to hurt one another, would remain rooted in the love they knew at the start, those tiny shivers of knowing.

She loved him because he knew her. He knew she loved books and movies and junk shops, so they went to those places. He knew she’d let him watch hours of wrestling on TV and have space on a Friday night with friends to unwind. They went out to dinner when all they had was $20 to spend for the evening, choosing menu options carefully so they’d have enough for a dollar movie later. They chose each other and their marriage over and over and over, despite what had been predicted for them.

She still loves him even though the way he chews gum drives her crazy. He still loves her even though her hands are cold as ice when she climbs into bed each night and reaches for him. And the fights still come, because without them where is the passion? Every day they sit across from each other at the breakfast table, sipping coffee and bantering about the coming day. Thirty years now of this little love story.

I love you, George. I’m glad we didn’t give up.


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