Friday, February 15, 2013


love letter

Valentine's Day, what a lot of pressure.  I received a few valentines, after mailing only one, and now feel guilty about not sending more.  So here we go:  I forthwith send out love beams to everyone, and not just for one day.  Hey, you there, you know who you are - I love you.  And you and you and you, too.  I used to think, long ago, practically during the dark ages, that love was a finite substance and we only had so much to share or give.  Thankfully I abandoned that stingy line of thinking and now believe it is infinite.  Really, infinite.  Wildly more than enough for everyone, everywhere, throughout all time.  Mwwwah, sweethearts.

Ryan and I are approaching 21 years together (the dark ages were before I knew him) and we didn't make a fuss yesterday, just curled up with Hodge in the evening and watched a favorite romantic movie - the BBC version of Persuasion from 1995, with Amanda Root and Ciarán Hinds in the lead roles.  Persuasion is my favorite Jane Austen novel (and is in the running for my favorite novel), and this is my favorite screen adaptation of her work.  Emma Thompson's Sense and Sensibility runs a close second, but I find the actors all just a little too unbelievably beautiful, which is not the case in Persuasion (in fact I see from the Wikipedia entry about the film that the actors did not wear makeup, and in directing the film, Roger Michell "tried to make it something which is absolutely about real people and not about dressing or hairstyles or carpet.").  The characters are so well-drawn, both on the page and in the screen adaptation, that when the happy ending finally arrives, as we hope it will, we silently cheer that the lovers are able to literally sail away from their circle of distressing relatives and rigid social obligations and take to the high seas with the Royal Navy.  

Which sounds like a most attractive prospect this morning, since I am writing this while awaiting the arrival of Tim, the Sears refrigerator repairman (fridge less than a year old, first major appliance we've ever had to purchase, thankfully still under warranty with a mere two weeks to spare).  Surely this is the absolute antithesis of romance.  Perhaps I should return to the Royal Navy posthaste and begin reading Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin series once again.  Is four times enough?  Several years have elapsed since I last read it, so I will have forgotten great swaths of both plot and prose.  I read Persuasion for the umpteenth time again last summer, so that remains closer in memory.  Gosh, is there a more perfect book?  In it, Jane Austen's exquisitely controlled wrath at her situation in life and the social scene she observed around her echoes like far-off cannon fire.  The novel reads like a love letter and one cannot help but wonder if it is autobiographical.  It must be, minus the happy ending.  Although who's to say, if she'd had the happy ending in real life, would her novels have remained unwritten?  Should our hearts break for her, or should we rejoice in her masterpieces?  Both?  Idle speculation of a pleasant kind.     

Your quiet Valentine's Day sounds lovely. I try to remind myself that life may have many happy endings in addition to sad or difficult partings. At one moment, the tide of love may wash over us, but the tide can go out, too. My tide was out this year, sadly, but I did my best to distract myself with some reading.
Waiting for a refrigerator repairman is one of those domestic trivialities that seem dull and monotonous when you are in a relationship, but that is just the sort of thing you miss when alone.

I found this blog post of a love letter written in 1946 by physicist Richard Feynman to his wife two years after she died of tuberculosis at only 25. It is sad, but in a beautiful way that reminds you to look at simple things differently.

Here is an excerpt. I can't get through it without crying, but it makes me happy to think love can stay in our hearts. The link follows:

"But now I know my darling wife that it is right to do what I have delayed in doing, and that I have done so much in the past. I want to tell you I love you. I want to love you. I always will love you.

I find it hard to understand in my mind what it means to love you after you are dead — but I still want to comfort and take care of you — and I want you to love me and care for me. I want to have problems to discuss with you — I want to do little projects with you. I never thought until just now that we can do that. What should we do. We started to learn to make clothes together — or learn Chinese — or getting a movie projector. Can’t I do something now? No. I am alone without you and you were the “idea-woman” and general instigator of all our wild adventures.
I have read that Feynman letter before, it's shockingly beautiful. Holy crackers I love Richard Feynman, his books are wonderful.

Browsing in a book I bought yesterday, "The Oxford Book of Seventeenth Century Verse," I came across a poem by Richard Lovelace, about a woman dancing - here is the third stanza:

"Each step trod out a Lovers thought
And the Ambitious hopes he brought,
Chain'd to her brave feet with such arts;
Such sweet command, and gentle awe,
As when she ceas'd, we sighing saw
The floore lay pav'd with broken hearts."

I am not a stranger to heartbreak (who is), so I offer my condolences and hope for a brighter spring, both literally and in your heart!
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