Romantically in Love

I think that growing up, I had a lot of misconceived notions about what being “in love” meant.

That it meant flowers, and roses, and rose petals; being serenaded by a three-piece band at an Italian restaurant. That big, romantic gestures were the way to prove the quality of a relationship between two people “in love,” and that small gestures were just a “given.”

The beginning of my relationship with Jonathan, he was great at making sweeping romantic gestures. I felt like a sixteen-year-old princess: the most beautiful girl in the world. He’d bring me flowers on an almost daily basis, bake me special desserts at the Jamaican restaurant where he worked, and come up with creative and special places to go on dates. We went mini-golfing, go carting, exploring in museums and on as many road trips as his little, gas-guzzling Mazda could take us. I was smitten, adoring this young man who made me feel more valuable than the most expensive jewels – I was falling in love.

I don’t know why I didn’t value the smaller gestures as much as the larger ones. You see, I grew up in a house where my dad’s bedtime routine included filling the coffee maker with grounds and setting a timer for the morning, even though he never drank coffee. He wouldn’t dare go to bed without a cup of cold water for my mum: she would drink half before bed, and half when she woke up. Those gestures, for me, weren’t large, sweeping declarations of love. They were small, but appreciated so, so much.

Now, almost ten years after I met my man, I still appreciate the occasional act of romance, but I see them as something completely different. More than rose petals or jewelry poking out from a restaurant dessert are the pecks on the cheek before he leaves for work. When he gets up as soon as I walk through the door to give me a hug as if it’s been a thousand years since we’ve seen one another, not a few hours. Sitting together on a quiet Friday night, no phones between us, with flickering candlelight in the background, over a meal we made together. Those are the images of romance that I know and love. Those are the moments I look for, the tokens of appreciation that will never go unnoticed in my house, like a quiet glass of water on the nightstand, or my favorite type of tea in the cupboard.

I used to think that romance was the goal: that if someone was standing outside my bedroom window with a boom box or throwing pebbles, then I had hit the jackpot. I never realized the fundamental issue with that attitude – once you get there, where do you go? If romance is accomplished, then what’s the next, larger scope of love you can “prove?” And how do you prove something that has a million meanings, a million images, and a million emotions involved? Now, I realize that romance is the journey, and love is the destination. There’s no gesture that sweeps a wide enough radius to get you from here to there – only small stops along the way.