I once read "the love that lasts longest is the love that's never returned." Do you think that's true? I think in some ways it can be. It actually reminds me of a line from Steel Magnolias. In one scene, while talking about love, the Truvy character says, "Unrequited love. My favorite." I get this – totally, and the reason why is that it's romantic: A love that never was – feelings of longing, unfulfilled; or, a love that never fully blossomed – cut short before having had a chance to develop. See the thing is, in these instances, the love is left to linger – shrouded in all the possibility of an endless series of daydreaming what-ifs. It lives in the mind, tugging at the heart, and while certainly romantic, not entirely real.
Valentine's Day was this month. You can bet the hype and marketing behind selling a piece of jewelry, a red rose or a box of chocolates had nothing to do with spreading love. I know it's been said to death, but Valentine's Day really is a Hallmark holiday. I know what you're thinking, 'she was stiffed,' but that's not it. True love is not expressed with some token gift on one day in the middle of February. It's a way of being, day in and day out, all year long.
I remember a joke I heard years ago about true love. It went something like this:
As a man lay dying, his wife dutifully at his bedside, he says, "Ethel, as I think back over our life together, it occurs to me that you have always been there."
E: Harry, I love you. I'll always be here.
H: When I got my draft notice, you were there.
E: I was.
H: Then I went off to war, but you waited for me, Ethel.
E: I did.
H: Remember that car accident I had?
E: I do.
H: You were there for that.
E: I was.
H: And when I lost my job, you didn't leave me.
E: I didn't.
H: Even now, in this hospital room, you're still here.
E: I am.
H: Ethel, I realize now… you're obviously a jinx!
I like that joke, but it is just that – a joke. And there's really nothing to be laughed at about a life long relationship.
I love seeing an elderly couple walking hand-in-hand, like in that jewelry store ad where the young couple passes the old couple in the park – you know which one I mean. Our lives go by so quickly. One minute we're in our 20s, then 30s, blink – 40s and before you know it, you're up there. What could be more romantic than to take a wrinkled hand and look into the eyes of a face that shows the passage of time and still see the young person you fell in love with, the person you grew with, the person you shared your life with?
Years ago, when I was involved with Randy (The Ones That Got Away, Chapter 27), he was always looking for compliments about his physicality, and although his appearance deserved them – he was tall, had a manly build and was handsome – I didn't comment on those things. I often commented on how clever I thought he was, his quick wit and how he always made me laugh. I told him I was attracted to his mind. And isn't that better, really? I don't think he thought so, but I do. The mind is the essence of who we really are – it's our thoughts and dreams, our fears and concerns, our hopes and aspirations. Everything else fades away.
So, if you have the good fortune of sharing your life with someone – through all the trials and tribulations, all the ins and outs, all the ups and downs – that is certainly not a jinx. It is a bona fide blessing.
Unrequited love may be Truvy's favorite, and it may make for great drama, but it's not the stuff real life is made of.