Romance one another
It’s February? Good Lord, where did January go? I’m having trouble keeping track of time. Is it really going fast, or am I going too slow? My friend says it’s a little bit of both.
And my mind turns to a time 73 years ago. I was not quite a teenager and was still into playing with shoeshine boys, trying to jump across the dry estero (and failing) next to the Cabarrus house.
School was suspended. The frequency of air raids from United States carrier-based dive-bombers made it impossible to schedule regular classes.
Soon we had a taste of daily “carpet-bombing” from the bigger planes. The earth would shake for several minutes while explosions rocked the air. Then it was quiet. The all-clear siren sounded. It was over, until the following day.
Finally, on Feb. 3, 1945, the interns in Santo Tomas were liberated, and the bloody battle to recapture Manila began. We saw the death, devastation and indescribable ruin of what was once known as the Pearl of the Orient.
Today’s young person has no idea. Telling the story is not enough. Words are inadequate. And although the memory remains fresh, the narrative hardly seems to matter. It feels like trying to unearth the dry and dead bones of forgotten heroes. What a shame.
Valentine’s Day in the Philippines is almost a national holiday. Does this mean all Filipinos are romantic? I don’t know about that. But everyone goes out to celebrate. You have to wrestle for a table at any restaurant. Shows are sold out. There is a fierce demand for red roses and prices are sky-high. Let’s not even talk about the traffic.
In my time, for those “in a relationship,” Valentine’s Day started with the delivery of flowers or a box of chocolates and a sentimental card. All flushed and excited, the girls dolled up for a romantic evening, while the guys sweated out what to say on a card attached to a tiny velvet box.
Our favorite place then was the elegant Sky Room at the Jai Alai, with Serafin Payawal and his band.
What do young people do today? Someone said they stay home and watch Netflix.
I spoke to the parents of two toddlers. They are hands on, meaning, yaya is not in charge. The daddy confesses, “I wish I could dine and dance with my wife. But we are so beat at the end of the day; it’s all we can do to manage dinner at home, and not always together.”
I suggested, “Get a sitter.” It didn’t seem doable. “How about you don’t change a thing. Just make it happen. After the last kid has toddled off to bed, dim the lights, put away your phones, turn the music on and enjoy your dinner for two. Never mind the menu. Open a bottle of wine (sparkling grape will be fine) and don’t forget to clink your glasses. And if the spirit moves you (and it will), then dance. Close. Like before you were married.”
I do not believe that romance takes a hike after you walk down the aisle. But it needs to be kept alive. I am positive that what worked many years ago, will still work today.
Romance one another. Surprise her with flowers. Make your own mushy card. Trust me, an emoji blowing heart kisses does not cut it.
I asked a friend whose marriage broke up many years ago, what about Valentine’s Day he misses the most. His reply, “I don’t know if I miss anything. I never made a big thing about Valentine’s. I thought it was silly to carry on like we were still in high school. Maybe I should have, right?”
It was hard to keep quiet.
I asked another more seasoned couple. She said, “We celebrate, in a very simple way. There are neither chocolates nor flowers. We treat ourselves, just the two of us, to fine dining where music is played soft.”
I smile. Are there such places anymore? Where can you go for soft music, where you can speak to one another in low whispers as you sit in a cozy, comfy corner and maybe hold hands?
She continues, “I let him talk about anything at all, without interrupting his rambling thoughts and without telling him he has told me that same story 20,000 times before. There is comfort in knowing there is love we share without needing to express it in words.”
What a lovely thought. Let it sink in, please.
Through the years I have learned that words are often empty sounds meant to distract, even to deceive; to avoid that dreaded dead air, that instance of silence that may reveal the lack of substance in the heart.
But I digress.
I know an ex-couple, divorced many years ago, who have remained good friends, and who, despite their present circumstances, still “celebrate” the love that used to be. Some find it strange. I think it is sweet.
Someone asked me how a person my age feels about Valentine’s Day. It made me think, and caused a flood of tender memories.
I can only speak for myself.
Yes, there was a time. But time passes and seasons come and go.
I love my life today.
In the words of the great Albert Einstein, “I live in that solitude which is painful in youth, but delicious in the years of maturity.”
It is God’s amazing grace. –CONTRIBUTED
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