Romantic Lines

“He knew that when he kissed this girl, and forever wed his unutterable visions to her perishable breath, his mind would never romp again like the mind of God. So he waited, listening for a moment longer to the tuning fork that had been struck upon a star. Then he kissed her. At his lips’ touch she blossomed like a flower and the incarnation was complete.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

Love Letter to F. Scott Fitzgerald from Zelda Sayre – Spring 1919

Scott — there’s nothing in the world I want but you — and your precious love — All the material things are nothing. I’d just hate to live a sordid, colorless existence — because you’d soon love me less — and less — and I’d do anything — anything — to keep your heart for my own — I don’t want to live — I want to love first, and live incidentally — Why don’t you feel that I’m waiting — I’ll come to you, Lover, when you’re ready — Don’t don’t ever think of the things you can’t give me — You’ve trusted me with the dearest heart of all — and it’s so damn much more than anybody else in all the world has ever had —

How can you think deliberately of life without me — If you should die — O Darling — darling Scott — It’d be like going blind. I know I would, too, — I’d have no purpose in life — just a pretty — decoration. Don’t you think I was made for you? I feel like you had me ordered — and I was delivered to you — to be worn — I want you to wear me, like a watch — charm or button hole bouquet — to the world. And then, when we’re alone, I want to help — to know that you can’t do anything without me.

I’m glad you wrote Mamma. It was such a nice sincere letter — and mine to St. Paul was very evasive and rambling. I’ve never, in all my life, been able to say anything to people older than me — Somehow I just instinctively avoid personal things with them — even my family. Kids are so much nicer.

Love Letter to Zelda Sayre from F. Scott Fitzgerald – Spring 1919

Sweetheart,

Please, please don’t be so depressed — We’ll be married soon, and then these lonesome nights will be over forever — and until we are, I am loving, loving every tiny minute of the day and night — Maybe you won’t understand this, but sometimes when I miss you most, it’s hardest to write — and you always know when I make myself — Just the ache of it all — and I can’t tell you. If we were together, you’d feel how strong it is — you’re so sweet when you’re melancholy. I love your sad tenderness — when I’ve hurt you — That’s one of the reasons I could never be sorry for our quarrels — and they bothered you so — Those dear, dear little fusses, when I always tried so hard to make you kiss and forget —

Landslide

The Gardens
The Gardens

I am reading Sue Conley’s book called Landslide. It’s a wonderful story about the tough work of living off professional fishing in Maine. The book opens with an explosion on the Jillian Lynne, a fishing trawler owned by fisherman Kit and his wife, Jilly. While Kit is in the hospital recuperating from the accident, Jillian replays some of the memories she has of how they met, of how they slowly and neatly fell in love with each other, and of how they eventually married and had two boys who love to challenge their parenting skills each day.

HERE IS A MEMORY: Kit takes me to a smaller island near his island with a white sand beach. These are the days before the boys are born. We’re camping in the dunes above the beach, and we swim and pretend to read on the striped blanket, but I can’t pay attention to the words because Kit’s lying beside me in the sand with his hand on my hip. I have nothing to want because I have him and want him entirely.

I love this last line: I have nothing to want because I have him and want him entirely.

I am reminded of a quote from Plautus, who seemed to believe when we are content, we have enough to live comfortably. Jilly was content in her relationship with Kit. She believed the love they shared was enough to build a happy life together.

This is a far cry from the Wall Street investment manager, Sherman McCoy. In Tom Wolfe’s novel, Bonfire of the Vanities, McCoy makes tons of money, and he loves the rush that comes with risking a small fortune to make a bigger one. He has a sweet sports car, his daughter goes to the best private school, his apartment is featured in Architectural Digest—that sort of thing. He only wears expensive clothing, and he calls himself and his partners “Masters of the Universe.” People like Sherman can never say, “I have nothing to want,” because everything around them is always saying, “Buy it. Eat it. Enjoy it. You deserve it!”

Which lifestyle do you prefer: Jilly or Sherman’s?

And if you prefer Jilly’s, are you convinced you have nothing to want because you are content with love?

A Good Year

In Peter Mayle’s “A Good Year,” Max Skinner recalls something he heard his uncle say about the little French town his uncle called home: “There is nowhere else in the world where you can keep busy doing so little and enjoying it so much. One day, Max, you’ll understand.”

I’m sure you have special places too. Places you enjoy doing little more than strolling down a path or napping in a hammock. Sure, it’s kind of bleak here at the end of winter but spring will take over soon, and the greenery will invite us to relax and live a little.

Love takes different forms and calls from different corners. Discovering your own oasis is one of them.

Love Letter: Victor Hugo

To: Adele Foucher

My dearest,

When two souls, which have sought each other for, however long in the throng, have finally found each other … a union, fiery and pure as they themselves are … begins on earth and continues forever in heaven.

This union is love, true love, … a religion, which deifies the loved one, whose life comes from devotion and passion, and for which the greatest sacrifices are the sweetest delights.

This is the love which you inspire in me … Your soul is made to love with the purity and passion of angels; but perhaps it can only love another angel, in which case I must tremble with apprehension.

Yours forever,
Victor Hugo (1821)

Cupid’s Arrow

Artists often depict Cupid, the ancient Roman god of love, as a winged baby that carries a golden bow and a quiver of arrows. He inflicts love and passion to his victims and has become an iconic symbol of Valentine’s Day. Cupid is the son of Mercury, the winged messenger of the gods, and Venus, the goddess of love.

In his 1482 painting, La Primavera, Sandro Botticelli positions a blindfolded Cupid above Venus, shooting an arrow.

Shakespeare said this about Cupid’s blindness in A Midsummer Night’s Dream:

Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind
And therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.
Nor hath love’s mind of any judgement taste;
Wings and no eyes figure unheedy haste.
And therefore is love said to be a child
Because in choice he is so oft beguiled

Are you ever struck by Cupid’s arrow? Sometimes, it’s hard to tell at first. He doesn’t always aim for dead center. The love arrow can graze or nick the skin. In such cases, platonic thoughts shift to romantic ones. Friendship may transform into something more. Like the act of wading into the water to acclimate before a swim, love can ease its way into life. Other times, when it’s a bull’s eye hit to the heart, persons dive into the deep end. We have often compared the highs from intense romance to that of a drug. Love can resemble symptoms of addiction — euphoria, craving, dependence, withdrawal and relapse. Cupid’s arrow not only affects the heart, it can overtake the mind. Neuroscience has linked passionate love with intense changes in emotion and attention, and the reduced ability to control attention. When head-over-heals in love, thoughts drift to the object of affection, sometimes obsessively.

Pablo Neruda describes the feelings of being driven to distraction by love in his poem Love Sonnet XI:

I crave your mouth, your voice, your hair.
Silent and starving, I prowl through the streets.
Bread does not nourish me, dawn disrupts me, all day
I hunt for the liquid measure of your steps.
I hunger for your sleek laugh,
your hands the color of a savage harvest,
hunger for the pale stones of your fingernails,
I want to eat your skin like a whole almond.
I want to eat the sunbeam flaring in your lovely body,
the sovereign nose of your arrogant face,
I want to eat the fleeting shade of your lashes,
and I pace around hungry, sniffing the twilight,
hunting for you, for your hot heart,
like a puma in the barrens of Quitratue.

Whether you’re ever hit by Cupid’s arrow or not, may love, in all its potential and varieties, capture your heart and thoughts on Valentine’s Day.

Leaving Texas

In David Lean and Noël Coward’s movie, Brief Encounter, Laura Jesson accidentally bumps into Dr. Alec Harvey, who gently removes a piece of grit from her eye. Chances are you’ve seen the movie. Both Laura and Alec are in their late thirties or early forties, married and with children, and after a couple of fortuitous meetings, their innocent and casual relationship develops into something deeper which dismays them. Not wishing to hurt their families, they agree to break up and go their separate ways. At the end of the movie, they meet in a railway station refreshment room to say goodbye. And wouldn’t you know it? At that very second Laura bumps into a talkative friend who invites herself to join them and begins chattering away, robbing the couple of their last chance to say goodbye. It’s a scene that makes you shake your head and cry.

Christian Wiman writes of a similar departure in his book, My Bright Abyss. He writes of leaving Texas and someone he will probably never see again.

I haven’t been in contact with Adele since the morning I left Texas, when she called just as I was heading out the door. There was a moment of silence before we stumbled all over each other trying to convey how much our tentative and half-candid time together had meant to each of us, the spark of spirit that (though we didn’t say so) burned there. We didn’t exchange e-mails. We didn’t promise to stay in touch. It was a moment, and we acknowledged it before letting it sink back into our fluid and restless inner lives to do its work there.

Leaving is never easy when love is in the mix, especially when your heart hints it’s the only way. And it’s even more difficult when two persons like Alec and Laura or Christian and Adele seem to fit together so well. I just finished a Michael Connelly book called The Last Coyote. One character in the book lost his bride-to-be the night they were to elope. Speaking of that horrid night he says, “I think you only run into a person who is a perfect fit once in your life. When you find the one you think fits, then grab on for dear life. And it’s no matter what she or he’s done in the past. None of that matters. Only the holding on matters.” But we do not live in a perfect world and holding on is not always possible. Like Laura and Alec, it makes you shake your head and cry.

Inside the Smell

Real love prods us to give our all. Robert Ferguson tells a story about a woman research technician on the staff of a certain hospital. A resident surgeon asked the woman to call on a young man recovering from an operation which had left him with no bodily function below his chest. He was depressed and wished to die. And, he had developed severe gangrenous peritonitis. The accompanying odor was horrendous. When the technician entered the room, the smell was so staggering, she gagged, backed out of the room, and ran into the doctor.

“Have you seen my patient?” the surgeon asked.

“I tried, but I couldn’t breathe,” she replied.

The doctor reached for her arm and gently guided her back to the room. “I know it smells bad, but there’s a heartbroken and dying young man in there who needs to know we care. Go in and find the man inside the smell.”

Loves moves us to go the second mile, to disregard the foulest of odors for whoever needs us, for whoever catches our heart. Life matters. People matter. Individuals matter. Love the person inside the smell and see isn’t love gladdened by goodness.

The Crowd

We often allow other people’s ideas to imprison us. The beliefs and opinions of the crowd usurp our own convictions. We assume we can protect ourselves by hiding in the crowd or worse, running along with it. Thomas Merton believed we are afraid of the aloneness, “the moral nakedness we might feel apart from the crowd.”

Looking back, I see times I’ve failed to speak out above the crowd, occasions I’ve missed to correct misunderstandings, shortsightedness, or straight-out meanness. This year I’m going to give myself an enormous hug and speak from my heart regardless of where I am or who I’m with. I won’t allow a crowd mentality to persuade me otherwise.

Vita Vita

Vita Sidorkina enjoys balancing her life as a supermodel with home and family.

Married life is amazing! Everything is so much better when you have your soulmate by your side. I definitely think any relationship requires work but it should never feel forced. The key is to be honest and open about your feelings, and accept your other half exactly the way they are.

Maxim September 2019 Article by Zeynep Yenisey

Vita welcomed her daughter, Allegra, to the world in November 2018. She is someone who enjoys simple things, like going to the movies and spending time with her family. “Ever since I had a baby, I realized that life is not about me anymore! Being a parent means making sacrifices, but it’s also the most rewarding thing ever.”

Pouring heart and energy into work, home and family is a wonderful expression of love and gratitude. Having a soulmate at your side gives life meaning and purpose. Bessie Head wrote in A Question of Power, “Love is so powerful, it’s like unseen flowers under your feet as you walk.” Vita surely must feel the soft flower petals strewn on the path before her.