Originally, this was going to be a post about Valentine’s Day. Something along the lines of “Middle-age butch’s guide to wooing your gal in three easy steps” or maybe “What to buy your butch on the most romantic day of the year.”
For those of you keeping score at home, I’m pro Valentine’s Day. I look at it as an opportunity to go that extra mile and show that special someone that you really do care. Besides, I’m a hopeless romantic — butch on the outside/soft and mushy on the inside — so Valentine’s Day is a great excuse for me to show off my romantic chops.
Usually, I’ll send W flowers at work. Cook a nice Italian dinner at home and serve a special dessert. A typical gift would be a “to-my-wife” card, a box of chocolates from a local candy shop and something small like a book or a CD. If inspiration strikes, I might write her a poem or a love note. Or gift her with a coupon for an oil massage later that evening capped off by, well, I’m sure you get the picture.
This year, Valentine’s Day will be subdued because W’s beloved grandmother passed away yesterday evening .
As I laid beside W in bed this morning trying to support and console her, I thought that this is what love is all about.
It’s not long-stem roses or $6.99 Hallmark cards decorated with ribbons and glitter. It’s not a box of fancy chocolates or a pair of boxers covered in arrow-pierced hearts. It’s not giant stuffed animals or plastic pink handcuffs or even the score to La Boheme or a book of poems by Pablo Neruda.
It’s wrapping your arms around your lover when she weeps and asking her if she’s ok a thousand times, even though you know that she isn’t. It’s holding her hand as she falls asleep and letting her sleep with the TV on because she doesn’t want to wake up and be engulfed in silence.
It’s making a joke about buying Kleenex in bulk just so you can see a smile cross her face for a half a second.
It’s cooking her macaroni and cheese in the blue box because she asks for it in that small, quiet voice and bringing her freeze pops in her favorite flavors and diet Cokes because it’s all that you can think of to do.
It’s letting her know that you’re here if she needs you, if she needs anything, and then giving her space.
It’s being there for her, even when you’re not right next to her, and telling her that everything will be ok. That we’ll get through this, this next hurdle, together and knowing deep down that it’s true.
When it comes to the un-Hallmark version of love, I often quote Melissa Etheridge (what card-carrying lesbian doesn’t?), especially this line from “Like the Way I Do:”
“You found out to love me you have to climb some fences.”
So true. In my case, the fences W climbs aren’t white picket. They’re 12-foot barbed wire fences guarded by flying monkeys. I can be a bastard to live with.
And that’s the thing about love. It’s not all roses, and candy hearts and teddy bears. That’s only the fun part of it. The idea of love. Love on the surface.
Deep down love is climbing a 12-foot barbed wire fence and swatting away winged primates to make your way into someone’s heart or to let her know that you’re still there, you always were. To say, “hey, I love you, you moron, can’t you see that I’ve climbed all the way up here and cut off most of my pointer finger at the first knuckle just to show you that.”
Real love is saying something, anything when you don’t know what to say. It’s trying and failing and then trying again.
It’s helping your lover grieve a loss when you’re not at all sure how to go about doing that.
It’s being there though, and going through it together.