romance is red
diamonds are blue
if you think that’s what love is
then more fool you!
This morning on my way to work I passed a young guy standing at the bus stop, holding a large teddy bear and a bunch of red roses. I had to smile – it was a beautiful sight, but completely alien to my experience.
You could argue that it’s largely due to my bad habit of dating engineers (I stopped at 2, but that second engineer was awfully hard to give up – 21 years later I still haven’t managed it). As a group, they are not known for their romantic, sentimental sides. But whatever the reason bunches of flowers have not featured greatly in my life. In fact I could count on one hand, with multiple finger amputations, the number of bouquets my husband has given me since we first met.
When I was young and naive (as opposed to older and now ludicrously naive), I used to think that the lack of flowers, diamonds and chocolates in my dating life indicated a lack of romance. I am embarrassed to admit that I used to give my beloved a hard time about it. Most of the year it didn’t bother me, but valentine’s day was a real struggle. Tales of flowers and grand romantic gestures abounded on all sides, and I was jealous. I even wondered if an absence of romance meant an absence of love.
It took me a long time to wake up to the romance that is integral to the fabric of our relationship – the kind of romance that lasts a lot longer than an expensive, wilting rose, that you can’t lose the way you can a diamond. Nor does it go to your hips like a box of chocolates.
The romance in my life is in the way my husband spots something I am allergic to and steers me away from it before I have even noticed. It is in the way he can put his finger on exactly what is bothering me when I have dissolved into tears and can’t articulate why. Romance is even in the way he turned to me after my first sudden and shocking attack of morning sickness and said “Would you like your toast now, or shall I flush it straight down the toilet?” (No doubt that wouldn’t have worked for some, but in a moment where I was so shocked I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, it left me giggling helplessly for some time.)
Romance is not glamorous or showy. It’s in the passions that we share and the ideals we both care about. It’s in the way we support each other when things get rough, instead of making things rougher by turning on each other.
Valentine’s day is a festival of commercial glamour, dressed up and pretending to be love. It’s capitalism hiding behind an intense pressure to perform – to demonstrate your love with grand, expensive gestures. But that’s not love. Love isn’t measured by the size of your bouquet, or the carats in your diamond. It’s not measured by the depth of your wallet or the category of restaurant you choose.
Love is someone holding your soul safely in their hands, giving it warmth, and light, and room to grow. Love is knowing someone inside and out, and making their happiness your business. I’ll take that over a bunch of roses any day.