Salt in the Wave

14 Feb

So I suppose you might ask, “How are you handling Valentine’s Day Ms. Wayfarin’ Lass? Is there a way to spin this out into an adventure that makes the social stigma of being sans beloved better?” First, let me state that if everyone would stop feeling sorry for me because I’m single on Valentine’s Day that might help me feel a ton happier. It’s as if the only choices I get in the emotional palette are acerbic, defensive, depressed, or desperate. Celebratory expectations, both social and material, for people on this holiday do a great deal more harm, in my opinion, than good in the grand scene d’amor. Pressures that mated men must feel in choosing the “right” card, the “perfect” gift and then the judgment women pass upon themselves upon receiving or not receiving these tokens do a lot to create an unhappiness within many romantic relationships that just doesn’t need to happen.

Seems to me, though, there’s a general inability to express ourselves well when it comes to love at the heart of it all, no pun intended. And that’s where Hallmark gets its foot into the door of our hearts and pockets. I don’t think we’re taught how to show or receive authentic sentiment from the variety of people we love very well and still keep it simple. It’s as if we can feel something genuinely enough as children, but somehow post pubescence it becomes way too complicated. Clarence is a pro at simple.“Going for it” is his modus operandi. Most dogs are like that. When they love you, you know it in a big way. I suppose it would be easier if we could just wag our tails at each other and roll over at will for a belly rub.

I’ve tried to keep this motto: “Love is simple” in my head and in my actions since December. So early this past weekend, I decided that I would be treating myself to love this week, mindful to enjoy and trying to find the essential part in loving my family, my friends, and most importantly, myself.

Last Saturday, Sonnets and Chocolates a fundraiser for Endstation Theater, was my entertainment for the evening. Director Geoff Kerschner was student of mine many years ago and I attend their shows at Sweet Briar College each summer. Supporting the arts is important to me and of course, I love Shakespeare. The sonnet as an art form moves me in ways that make me yearn for a poet in my life. It’s Shakespeare’s ability to transform the complexity of love into a kaleidoscope of words, each one subtle, yet powerfully concentrated enough to reveal the truest nuances of feeling which touches my most romantic side.  And it’s that nuance which makes the speaker’s sentiments unique, powerful. In that uniqueness, the sentiment is born anew and given afresh to the beloved every time. A love sonnet isn’t only for a special occasion once a year, nor like an every day note for a lunchbox. Like honest affection, it arrives on its own terms and in its own time and rhythm. This is what makes love poems so special.

Performances by Endstation’s casts are always brilliant and the desserts, divine. This year I attended solo, quite by accident. Several of my friends decided at the last minute not to come, but I still endeavored to enjoy the wine, sweets, and romantic songs by Paddy Dougherty. As the evening wore on, though, I began to notice the dedications for donation mounting up and the recognitions of years achieved in marriage being announced like lifetime awards in some Love Hall of Fame. Don’t get me wrong, the theater has to raise money for its endeavors and I support that. But as a single person, it became harder to listen to. And as the held hands and heads upon shoulders became more and more apparent, I wanted more Shakespeare, something for me to love and words which would love me back. What I experienced was the social construct all over again. Cruising through Valentineland on the “Its a Small Angel with a Bow’s World After All” boat. I didn’t feel too uncomfortable, though. Maybe comfortably numb might be the more proper term as I lounged in my chair, nibbled on truffles, sipped Rebec’s Landmark White and tried to enjoy the aesthetic quality of Paddy’s voice, rather than the lyrics singing of a one and only.

Sunday afternoon, though, was when love’s beauty truly compromised my emotional armor. I attended a performance of the James Chamber Players at Oakwood Country Club, literally a three minute walk from my home. As I sat in a banquet hall, beautifully decorated for the Valentine holiday, with thirty or so others, an understanding about the depth of human love and longing began to arrive.

The room quieted.

A tuning of strings were low notes floating like waves over the audience in unified harmony, then rising in crescendo.

My heart lifted into the swell and then, the truth in the notes, like salt in a wave, stung.

And as they played, something in the music washed over me and filtered down into my core. The motion of their bodies in the playing became part of the song, part of the gift. Within the expressive movement of sound, the players loved the music into being. And that is a true expression of love, I thought, that giving, and at times that sacrifice. One of the last songs they played was Fantine’s from Les Miserables.

I dreamed a dream in time gone by
When hope was high
And life worth living
I dreamed that love would never die
I dreamed that God would be forgiving. . .

Swimming in an ocean of sound, the lyrics  met the resonance of bow and string. From first bar to last, I gave in and let tears flow.

I cried because I love,

have loved,

will love again.

I cried because sometimes love is giving without hope of receiving.

And sometimes it’s receiving in the grace of an inability to requite.

And for all its pain, joy lies within all of it.

Love IS simple, but that doesn’t mean its always fair or fulfilling. That’s what is missing, truncated from this white, pink, and red velvet cupcake, candy heart, rose and dyed carnation filled holiday.  We do not honor the love that is bittersweet, still as genuine and strong, passionate and important as its more recognized counterpart. And we should honor it, grateful to feel it even in its injustice. For it means we are alive and able to be human and that connects us and ultimately heals us all. For we cannot know the swell of joy without the absence of it, nor celebrate the sweetness of a beloved without time alone.

One Response to “Salt in the Wave”

  1. Anonymous February 18, 2013 at 8:20 PM #

    Bloody hell…
    a sad commentary on the state of Lynchburg maledom that a lass of such comprehensive beauty and quality isn’t blogging about the trials of dealing with a long line of suitors.
    Man up, Lynchburg!

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