What we talk about when we talk about love

How’s this for a trip down Memory Lane: It’s Valentine’s Day 1983. Just months earlier I met the man who would become my husband. Maybe not exactly a Tony and Maria West Side Story moment, but close enough. Suffice it to say I spotted him across a room, Tavern on the Green, to be exact, talking to my brother. I had a feeling about this guy. To this day, the mutual friends who had invited us to the party take great pride in a match made, if not in heaven, at their daughter’s christening.

Back to Valentine’s Day. I lived on the West Side of town, he lived on the East Side. The city never sleeps but it slows down during a snowstorm. Not a taxi in sight. I and the lasagna I’d made for that new love of mine would have to make the most of public transportation.

I get to his spiffy apartment building and the doorman tells me I have to wait. WTF? That new boyfriend of mine had to have the lighting just right on the flower arrangement I would see when I walked into his apartment. It’s all in the details—right?—all the more significant when the boyfriend happens to be an interior designer.

We live in cynical times, and no matter how I recast the phrase I can’t help but see/hear Tom Cruise in his humbled Jerry Maguire mode.

More to the point, cynical times demand more of us. For reasons that have as much to do with my mother sending a Valentine’s Day card to me (and sometimes friends of mine) during my single years. I still send a card (usually emblazoned with a puppy) to my daughter. She’s engaged now, and I love the young man she’s going to marry. But . . .

Love is love is love . . .

Speaking of which, Cupid may be the cute little god shooting arrows but the Romans were pretty, pretty nasty during the feast of Lupercalia (February 13-15), sacrificing animals and whipping women. It took a pope to erase all vestiges of the pagan rituals; and it took the likes of Chaucer and Shakespeare to infuse the holiday with romance. Oh that sentiment, not commerce, were the overriding principle!

And even if we don’t need a cheesy Hallmark reminder of it all, it’s as good a distraction as it gets. Not feeling romantic but feeling the need to say it with anything but flowers? There are e-cards galore, from the silly/animated Jacquie Lawson to the over-the-top tongue-in-cheek some cards. All brought to you in a time when La-La Land becomes more than a place or state of mind in a Hollywood love story as bittersweet as it gets.

John Lennon said it simply:

Love is real/real is love

Raymond Carver got to its unfathomable underbelly in a masterful story.

So, while I can’t promise I’ll be concocting something to make America love again, I am planning to cook up something (not lasagna) to share with very close friends who, like us, are still happily married (if not crazy) after all these years.