I’ve posted about love and its complexities several times. But today is two days after Valentine’s Day, and I’ve been reflecting on this, not so much for myself. My own reflections are in my chapbook, as well as published elsewhere. I have had a richness in my life, romantic experiences joyful, painful, and in-between. I am grateful. Years of living have given me perspective and balance, and I think, perhaps, a certain wisdom. What I wanted to share today is my observations about the young, their first experiences of longing, learning, disappointments and fulfillments, their belief that love is still all or nothing. That when not in a relationship, they cannot find fulfillment and love, ever, not understanding its possibility, all in good time, at any time of life. Perhaps forever, perhaps not. I think, my experience has been, that if I can take something that was good in a relationship, even if the ending was painful, that memory of the richness of love, no matter how long or short, remains somewhere within me. Unless abuse is involved, a totally different matter, as we all know, I feel that sometimes in remembrance, I realize that that joy has not been taken from me. What has happened within the intimacy between two people has been real. I am older, these reflections perhaps have come with aging, with seasoning of understanding. I loved, I was loved. That is real. Even the ending of a relationship doesn’t obliterate that reality. In time, often years, I think that in remembering, we can sometimes truly value what was special and meaningful with another person, even if it did not last. As for a lasting relationship, that is perhaps an extraordinary experience of sharing life and love between themselves and a circle of loved ones. Very real and meaningful. These are all my own personal observations and experiences. I’m not sure if they will resonate with others.
Romantic love and intimacy form an entire body of poetry of every time and culture from the time the first writer actually recorded their feelings and thoughts. But writing is, after all, words, talking on paper. So all this body of love poetry rests on millennia of oral poems, passed down, preserved, many eventually recorded almost as originally spoken. Love is a part of our nature. Not just romantic love, of course. The breadth and meaning of love cannot be defined or confined to one definition. But today, I am awaiting the birth of my first grandchild. My daughter found love that forms a foundation of family. But, once upon a time, both my daughters spent a Valentine’s Day with friends, many of whom were not in a romantic relationship at the time. They were young, late teens or very early twenties, I think. Our town is small. Friendships formed in school remained fast. They planned a party which was to be rooted in dissatisfaction and disillusionment about love at that particular moment of their lives. I could hear this small group of young women turn rather quickly to laughter, rather than laments. Sometimes close friends are very clear-eyed about the partners of their friends, even when they are not wise in their own choices. I sensed the small beginnings of the passage of wisdom about the nature of romantic love, from those of girls to those of women. Of course, as is often the case, my reflections expressed themselves in a poem to my daughters and to their friends. A woman’s Valentine to girls on the brink. It’s actually in my book, but it seems fitting to share it here in our community, so diverse in our predilections and experiences. The poem is titled Valentine to My Daughter. I’m posting it now, separately. I didn’t share it with my daughters until they were in their thirties. They remembered, with perspective and balance.