I gave what I coined “The Love Prompt” this last week for Valentine’s Day to my writing groups. Ok guys, how about you write about, “Oh, That’s What Love Feels Like?” The reflective smiles of each person in my incredible BA50 writing groups came shining back across the zoom screen.
“Everyone’s got a story, I’m sure of it?” They were very quiet as they usually are after I suggest a writing prompt for the next week’s class. I’m never sure if I need to move on to the 2nd or 3rd prompt I’ve prepared because I want at least 80% buy in from them before we sign off.
Watching them still staring at the screen I continued, “Well, it could be love for your dog, a family member(s), a spouse, a new or old boyfriend, or self-love.” They continued to stare.
“Ok, guys, is this gonna work?” And to my surprise it was unanimous. Everyone loves to think about that loving feeling and we all have a story.
It got me thinking as well about the fireworks of romance, the drama of those first moments of passion, the heat of love. And then I shifted gears into the simple and sweet routines that deep love offers. The built-in years of knowing someone so well, when love is reflected in the daily dance of living in partnership.
And, that’s what tickled me about this love story. This week’s New York Times piece on Mandy Patinkin and Kathryn Grody’s scenes from their marriage is a gem. Apparently throughout the pandemic they have become the darlings of social media as their son has recorded their running commentary on life and love over the last 11 months. If you haven’t read this piece, I encourage you to and click on each of the embedded links.
I have so many takeaways from this New York Times piece, but what struck me at first as I noted their age, they aren’t so much older than my husband and I, but they truly remind me of my grandparents. They are like a Woody Allen caricature of an old married couple, finishing each other’s sentences, laughing, bickering a bit, while eating matzoh in mid sentence. They really make me laugh.
And then the comparisons to my husband Bill and I started.
It got me thinking about how routinized and synchronized Bill and my life has become over these last 11 months. Aside from 6 weeks of kid visits, and a few outdoor dinners over the summer, we have been cooking and eating and settling into our evening routine almost unconsciously, and it has been the greatest gift I Never could have imagined.
The other night as we cut up the left over chicken he had roasted the night before and mixed it into the romaine, sprinkled it with pistachios, grated shavings of parmesan and lathered on the salt lemon and olive oil we mused how delicious this looked. (It’s probably the 5th salad we’d had for dinner this week but we never tire of it). We cut a huge hunk of my freshly baked challah and lathered on the butter, poured a glass of red wine and settled into our spots in the living room. Contentment reigned, mostly.
“I’m so bummed. Tonight is the last episode of Borgen I‘m going to miss our beloved Brigitte, (Sidse Babett Knudsen) ,” I pined as I devoured the buttered challah.
“I know, this has been a great few weeks with the Danes.”
“Maybe we should prepare for the finale, and not rush it, I mean what will we watch after this?”
“Don’t worry, honey we will find something.”
How simple our evenings have become. Without the chaos of politics these past few weeks replaced by the obsession of when we will get vaccinated and whether the kids will be arriving this week or next, our evenings have become even quieter if that was possible.
“Are you bored at all?” I asked Bill.
“I’m never bored, I’ve got you.”
“Oh that’s so sweet, but maybe we should get some headlamps and go snowshoeing at sunset for Valentine’s Day.”
“That sounds fun, sure, we could do that. Do you mind the moose and mountain lions at dusk, could be kind of cool?”
“Very funny, ok never mind, but what should we do, I mean what would we do to spice it up, you know, it’s Valentine’s Day?”
“We could cook something special, maybe a new kind of a salad,” Bill smirked.
We both acknowledge that we love “our” kind of food and don’t miss restaurant food at all. (We do miss being served and socializing at restaurants however).
“It’s a week away, honey. Do you need to put something on your calendar?”
“I do, that would be nice,” I pouted.
It was just a year ago Bill said to me, “We need to make fewer plans. We haven’t had dinner on our own in so long.”
“You’re right honey,” I remember saying, but then stuff would come up and I couldn’t say no because, YOLO, ya know. And the calendar would fill up and it made me happy, and my go-along guy would be the best sport about it.
Bill and I have been married almost 13 years and up until last year, this is how we rolled. I would plan, Bill would agree mostly, and life was full. We both had the same priorities, kids first and friends second and mostly, we’ve been humming along really well throughout these years, admittedly more at my pace than his.
But now the balance has shifted and we are at living Bill’s pace.
“Ok honey, I have a great idea. We could put pomegranate seeds in the salad for Valentine’s Day. We could watch a romantic movie. You could make chocolate matzoh instead of challah? “
“That’s the best plan ever honey, I love it.”