Some of my friends associate romance with chores. Things like getting cups of tea or doing housework. For me, this is not romance. Romance is passionate and thoughtful. It could be a flower on a desk, a prying kiss, or a memory to treasure when you need to be tenacious. Romance can be free and wholly disconnected from materiality. It can also be a grand gesture, but not everything of meaning is a grand gesture. I couldn’t exist in a reality without romance.
But what does romance mean to others? For some, it is traditional, bound in the word’s history. Originally of Latin origin, ‘romanicus’. It was often associated with chivalry. Chivalry originated in Knighthood and was a social code for how to behave. It was not to do with love. The modern-day version of chivalry would be to hold a door open for someone. Recently a man did this for me. I said thank you. It was in a work environment. He then looked at me and apologised. I know you can open your own door he says. I respond with mmm…as I am not sure what to say. I don’t know him well. He then tells me he’s old-fashioned and doesn’t know what to call himself anymore. He suggests he’s a ‘doorman’. It makes me laugh. He looks embarrassed. I shouldn’t have laughed. And at that moment, I thought to call him a gentleman, but I didn’t. I just kept quiet. We live in confusing times. Chivalry still exists today, but the narrative around romance has largely moved away from it.
Romance can also be symbolic; this is both historical and modern. The Roman myth of Vertumnus and Belides has us associate daisies with romance. Vertumnus, god of seasons, pursued nymph Belides continuously, so enamoured was he. To escape his affections, she turned herself into a daisy. Forever immortalised as a symbol of romance. And then today, we, too, have our own symbols. Things that we consider significant.
A romantic recollection
Many years ago, whilst living in France we visited an art show with our four children. Part of the show was interactive, and children could complete a piece of pottery. Whilst I was supervising our children my love made me a little clay heart, about one inch in diameter. It was a very happy time in our lives. I carried the heart in my purse for many years. I loved seeing it. Life became difficult, but each time I pulled out my purse I would see the heart and it would sustain me. And then, at the worst possible time; for no apparent reason the heart split in two. I was very upset. I held the two pieces out on my hand for my love to inspect when he got home from work that night. And I just stared at him, my heart was broken. He didn’t say anything, for there were no words.
I put half of the heart in my dresser and I left the other half in my purse. After a few months it didn’t look so much like half a heart anymore, this worried me. It was getting smaller and had a little chip. So, I placed it in the dresser too. Both pieces in a special box with daisies on top. I felt sad at that time. My sadness passed as everything passes, except love, that is a veil cast on eternity. I look in the box periodically to make sure both halves are in there; united. The crumbling clay…we are fragmented together.
And these recollections feature in our lives, little stories that we obey until they become obsolete. Some people see romance as a narrative for their lives. I am one of those people. It is not that I believe in idealism; that would be naive. I believe in passion and possibility. I enjoy living in anticipation. The romantic story is different for each of us.