Who’d have thought I’d be writing a post on love? Not me. I’m the kind of girl whose idea of a romantic getaway is an archaeological dig, but with Valentine’s Day looming and this lovely post, it now seems to be a good time to discuss it. You know, in a laboratory, with gloves.
I had my first and very significant inkling that love wasn’t all that straight forward when I was maybe nine or ten. One of my classmates was going through a tough time at home because her parents kept separating. They were second time around on a roller coaster called adultery-separation-apologies-forgiveness. It was St Valentine’s Day this particular year when I went to visit her house. I don’t know why I was there, what I do remember is the scentless red roses and the moulded plastic teddy bears holding ‘My Valentine’ hearts on their kitchen bench. I remember feeling unsettled and thinking, ‘what a crock’.
I have never celebrated St Valentine’s Day. It was probably a combination of that childhood incident and the fact that my parents never really acknowledged the day either. By the time I was old enough to be someone’s Valentine I was so cynical about the whole thing I viewed any Valentine’s gift with complete suspicion. Now, when I say ‘any’, I mean the two presents I received one Valentine’s Day, from the same person. I wasn’t buried in gifts every Valentines, I think I emitted an anti-Valentine vibe. Very early into my relationship with my husband, he bought me a really lovely random gift (not even for Valentine’s day) and I ranted at him. Yep. I gave him a lecture. I’m sure out of all the things he expected to go wrong, buying me a nice present wasn’t one of them. He had his work cut out with me.
Some people treat Valentine’s Day like it is a demonstration of love. My classmate’s parents would have been married twelve-odd years when he bought her the same type of cliché thing that you buy someone when you’d like to get to know them. What? First I don’t want presents and now I have standards? No. I’m saying, why get anything if there is no love in it? Through working in retail, I’ve spoken to men who are buying something for the pure reason of ‘otherwise I’ll be in trouble’.
I’m a collector and market goer. I buy old books and knick-knacks and worn out chairs that I dream to restore because I see their potential. I pick up beautiful things I find in nature too like leaves and fallen birds’ nests and feathers. I’m a bit of a hoarder. My husband isn’t. He tolerates it reasonably well with a furrowed brow and a look on his face that I know means ‘alright then’. And because my husband isn’t a hoarder I mediate myself at markets and don’t just go and buy anything. (He actually has no idea how much I don’t buy.)
Once a few years ago I was going through a really stressful time and suffered from a lot of anxiety. It made me feel quite ill and debilitated. Hubby paced around the house feeling a little bit helpless when he said the most amazing thing, “Let’s go for walk. We’ll go up through the park and I’ll help you look for feathers.”
Love can be found in really unlikely places. Love is tolerance, compromise and respect but it is also eating the edge-piece of cake because you know your partner likes the middle. Love is a risk because you let someone know you so well they can break you. It’s worth that risk because the reverse is true too.