Marolt: Love doesn’t change
It’s a funny thing. The power went out as I sat down to write this, so I pulled out the pad and pen. I got self-conscious and quit. I was afraid that I would leave it out and somebody might read it. I wonder why I don’t feel that way when I tap it out on the computer screen and then push a button to send it away for publication. There really is an intimacy with characters drawn in unique hand on paper. A cryptic note to self, a phone number scrawled in the margin without a name, a doodle — these things we still do on paper, not meant for the world to see.
The reticence could have been because it was my intention to talk about love. It’s Valentine’s Day. And that’s a hedge, my excuse to talk about it. It’s a sensitive topic. You might even think it weird column fodder, all the more if it were, say, St. Patrick’s Day.
Love is the one thing I can think of that you have more of after you give all you think you have of it away. Some say it is true of hate, too, but I don’t. Sure, if you hate somebody, you’re likely to get a dose of that right back, but the world is also full of lovers who can be hated and driven to compassion so that all they feel for the haters is concern. They forgive. This is, perhaps, the greatest form love takes. I think it’s harder to say, “I forgive you,” than it is to say, “I love you.”
That’s not to say that the words “I love you” always come easy. It seems like it’s a popular trend these days to tell everybody you love them. That might cheapen the experience of being on the receiving end of those words. I’m not sure, though. Can you say those words thoughtlessly? Sure, but they carry a certain weight nonetheless.
It is easier to tell someone that you love them in parting rather than meeting. That’s odd because it seems that there is more excitement in greeting than departing. Wouldn’t it be nice to say something like, “Oh my gosh, I love you! How long has it been? You look great!” when we see an old friend? Tradition breeds social acceptance, and it’s just not there yet. I suppose waiting until the end to say those precious words has some built-in safety. It’s just potentially less awkward. The saddest thing is to wait until going turns into gone. It happens too often.
They say love changes as we grow in our relationships. I don’t buy it. Love is what it is. What changes is how we dole it out. Eventually it stops gushing and becomes a steady state of pleasant contentment.
We are human, after all. Thankfully, our lives grow fuller. As is proved by our garages, we pick up more than we discard. If we are lucky and live our lives well, we end up with more options to share our love than we can manage. Love grows and grows, but our time to spread it does not. The good news is that you can give it out in whatever doses time allows, and if your intention is to give out as much as you possibly can, it works out. It is an unexpected peck on the cheek or the quick grasp of a hand that can say it all — I gotta go, but you are always on my mind.
Young love is unquenchable. We used to ski together all day, go to Takah Sushi for dinner and then end the night next to the fireplace, just the two of us for each other. Then comes life. Before you know it, you are surrounded by family and extended family and all kinds of new friends you meet through the kids. You learn to create love for each other through those around you.
When you spend time to make your kids and family and friends feel loved, it comes back to the one person you started the whole cycle with a thousand fold. It might not be as intense all the time, but it is richer, that’s for sure.
I could write you another love letter, but that would be like the baker giving his wife a loaf of bread for Valentine’s Day. As we get older together, it becomes harder and harder to surprise you with new ways to say, “I love you.” But what do you know? Maybe I just did.
Roger Marolt is a hopeless romantic in his own mind. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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