Experiencing the bitter cold and stinging ice outside while snow blowing the local version of a “Nor’easter” tonight was a perfect prelude to my annual Valentine’s Day extravaganza. No, I’m not writing anything bitter or cold. Actually, ice can warm the heart quite nicely when touched by a creative and loving hand…
To quote Tom Hanks as the wonderful Forrest Gump, “I know what love is.” It’s just been a while since I’ve actually felt it and each day hope fades a little more that I’ll ever experience it again. I mean L O V E. Burning love. “I would die for you” love. “You make me want to be a better man” love. The love that makes you think of her every time you hear a love song. Yeah, that kind. Ever experience that? I have, so I’m really not interested in something less… or “settling.” No thanks. I’d rather be alone.
I do remember. One afternoon I held on to love and cried like a newborn over separation from my children, but it was a price I was willing to pay. I wanted that embrace to last forever, like the couple recently found still holding on some 5,000 years later… Time does not bound that kind of love.
It’s sad, looking back and recalling how love eluded me, at least partly, for not engaging all of my senses. I didn’t see it in her eyes or smell it in her hair brushing my face. I didn’t taste it and I was cold to its touch. All because I didn’t hear it. Not love, but the words. The fucking words. I didn’t hear the words and all the other senses shut down and missed the signals. Four out of five wasn’t enough and what might have been “that kind of” love slipped away…
One cold February night last century just like this one, I leaned forward, braced against the wind and trudged to my car. Yeah, it was well before the “work at home during a snowstorm” era… As I struggled through layers with gloves to find keys… I don’t think I had fifteen… an image caught my eye. Etched in the ice on the window was a heart… a valentine. It was nice… Cute even. I didn’t get it. For someone who’s grown to appreciate art and the meanings in imagery, back then I was oblivious to love because although I could see, touch, taste and feel it, I did not hear it.
Sometime later she later asked me, “what if that’s all I have to give?” I think I responded that it wasn’t enough. It’s ironic. I don’t recall my mother ever being able to say “I love you” when I was young, but I never doubted it. All the other signs were enough.
I still want to be a better man…
but only time will tell
You said we’d go the distance but
I guess it’s just as well
You’re blossoming all over
while I whither on the line
I just called to tell you that
“I hope you’re doing fine”
Be my valentine”
Patterson Hood / Drive-By Truckers
©Soul Dump Music (BMI)
In some ways you and I are a lot alike. My last Valentine was 18 years ago – a hard act to follow even though it was I who chose to walk for reasons I still believe were true to myself. I’m still looking for that one special Valentine, and those bones represent what I want, and I won’t give up, nor will I ever settle, until I take my last breath. In the mean time, I just spread my love to all those who cross my path…