Sometimes people wonder how they will find true love. Partly you have to be ready with open eyes and hearts to see it and act on it when it appears. Then you need to hang out together and make sure it’s really love and not just a flash in the pan. Live your love for awhile, get confident, but don’t take forever before you make it permanent. Like all things, love can spoil or get stale if it doesn’t develop into the full catastrophe of making a life together—picking up socks or cereal in the supermarket, deciding where to go on vacation, or live, or how to spend your money. Whose money? That’s a question, too. How do you deal with the money, not to mention all the parents, brothers and sisters, etc., and, by the way, while we’re on the subject of family, do you want kids? Yes, no? If no, okay. If yes, when, how, and how many? What happens when somebody gets sick? Or is out of work?
True love is taking the other person’s life in your hands and letting that person take your life in his or her hands, because that’s the level of trust that true love needs. Otherwise you’re somewhere else all together, maybe you’re part of a joint venture, which can have its own rewards, but when you’re in love, the other person’s life is just as real to you as your own is.
For Valentine’s Day I decided to write a little vignette—a dialogue between two people—about a true love that has lasted. This was a love like lightning that blew up suddenly and keeps on flashing over the years. Think about the two people who are talking, picture them in your mind, and then if you feel like it, write in and tell me about them. Who are they? Who are you? Do you want a partner? What kind of life do you want?
Sweetheart, I remember when we first met, I was sure right away that this was serious. You took my number. I told you not to call before 9:00 PM. I had my reasons. Now we’ve been together for thirty years and I still need to know that I look as good to you as you look to me, most times, anyway. We got married the day after Valentine’s Day. I didn’t want to get married in February, I wanted to wait for the warm weather, but you insisted.
Honey, I first saw you on the subway. You wore a red T-shirt. You were all sweaty and reading, your nose was part of the book you held in your right hand while you held the train pole in your left; you held tight but you weren’t really paying attention, so when the train jerked you fell. I caught you, my good luck, I wanted to get to know you but I was scared to ask for your phone number. But then I asked you anyway, and you said you didn’t have any paper where you could write it down, no pen either, so I told you I’d remember it, and you looked like you didn’t believe me, but you gave me your number and told me not to call before 9:00 PM.
The next day you called. “Hello,” you said, “It’s me. It’s 9:05.”
Clearly you wanted to call me at the right time, but you didn’t want to wait much longer. You know what you want, I thought, I like that, but then later I found out that you often don’t know what you want, you take forever to make up your mind sometimes, but I like you anyway. And you always knew you wanted me.
Honey, I knew I wanted you from the first look. Even though you were wearing those ugly glasses.
My life changed with you in it, and I got new glasses. Those first years were scary and deep. Then when you first got sick I thought I’d die too. I walked along Third Avenue crying and screaming. People thought I was crazy. I was glad to live in a place where a crazy person can scream on the street and nobody ever calls the cops. I yelled outside because inside at home with you I wanted to stay positive, because I thought that would help keep you alive. It did; for many years your health was perfect. And then when you got sick again I was a lot quieter, we’d been through this before and we knew the drill; stay positive, find good doctors, the right medicine, pray for luck. The medicine worked and you got better again.
I did. Now it’s thirty years later, and when we lie down together we both feel grateful. We write notes to each other, like “The dishes in the dishwasher are dirty,” or “We need milk,” or “Want to eat out?” We always sign the notes “Love, me.”
So, what do you think, who are these people? Picture them; what do they look like? What kind of Valentine do they make? What kind of Valentine would you like to make? Let me know.
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