There was the lover who wrapped me in grape vines, another who sent me poems written in his blood, another ran with me in large intertwining circles in the cold of winter in a Tennessee valley under a full moon, another made me dinners and cleaned up afterwards. Even swept the floor.
Then, there was the husband who after 18 years of more or less ignoring Valentine’s Day changed his pattern and reserved the best table at a French restaurant and had roses waiting. I found out six months later he was living a separate life with another woman and apartments in Beijing and San Francisco.
And, there was the husband who was violent, and the one who brought a custody suit against me. These are three different men. Each injured me, and each has been overcome, and each taught me that love is too precious to be thrown out because some people aren’t good at it.
As a woman of a certain age, romance still matters, more precious than ever. Catastrophes still bruise but less than before – and my women friends are pros at care and tending.
I have had a pendulum swing towards where I forgive flaws knowing that otherwise there would be no one in my life, and “forgive” is not the right word because it implies I hold a balance to determine good and evil, and I do not. Life is an unfolding story, not a legal case. No one doesn’t mess up, even as some mistakes are inexcusable. And the people who did inexcusable things maybe shouldn’t be in your life or mine but we can get on with our lives because we are terrific.
I have had a pendulum swing towards where being loved is a gift that thrills me as an aurora would thrill me, as chocolate truffles thrill me, as Maria Calos thrills me. Love is our natural condition, but it is still a gift. We could have all been reptiles and missed out on love.
Love is the light. Love is when someone touches your lips and you are suddenly no longer in the nitty-gritty of life, death, and taxes. Love is when your grandchild says almost anything and your heart dances. Love is tending your parents when they forget your name. Love is why we keep going.
To all my lovers, ever, and I’m sorry if I don’t remember your name – being in my twenties during the sexual revolution means I can never run for public office – to all my lovers, ever, some of you were good and some of you were not so good, some of you I think about and some I don’t, some of you were older and some of you were younger, some of you were poetic and some of you were not, some of you were rich and some of you were poor. To all my lovers, ever, I wish you to be loved well, even superbly, this Valentine’s, with or without grape vines, but surely with a sharing of household chores and a cleaning up after meals.