"Peter, Peter, pumpkin eater, had a wife but couldn't keep her. Put her in a pumpkin shell, and … she left him for Abe the green grocer." Pete didn't know what to make of it; he was completely surprised. Happy Valentine's Day.
I knew a man once who drank after work well into the night while his woman slept, so that she could get up early to exercise. I knew a woman who couldn't grasp the meaning of fidelity and couldn't understand why that bothered her fiancé. I know a headstrong man and a loving woman who would follow his ignus fatuus adventures with stars in her eyes until he exhausted her. I knew an intelligent woman who dumped her lover because he couldn't read a sentence without moving his lips with the words. I knew a good-hearted woman in love with a good-timing man. I knew a lot of relationships that just did not work out because sometimes people are attracted to alternatives and because someone sees that what was enjoyable in the beginning of a relationship can get old, and that there's more to life.
Someone once told me that in a relationship of any kind, "First comes love, then comes work, and then love comes back." I have to admit that it took me a long time to stick around for that "work" part. Ask any of my ex-wives. I've gone through most of my life headlong, leaving collateral damage in my wake, until I gave up fighting myself. That may not make any sense to anyone but me, but finally, I started paying attention.
Love goes away if you don't pay attention to it; same goes for romance—both unique in their own ways and, at many times, at odds with each other. Research (mine) shows that while love (at times spelled with a capital L) can be viewed from an objective viewpoint, romance (also sometimes R) is very, very subjective. What they have most in common is that when you have one, the other, or both, if you don't pay attention, nurture, and foster their growth, they will simply go away. Romance is first to jump ship. Love will stick around for a while and then get bored, distracted, and head in another direction. You know this to be true; you just didn't think about it this way. And by the way, Valentine's Day is not a quick fix.
Romance is spurred by impulse, e.g. beauty, lust, sight, sound, taste, i.e. "He/she was humming that tune I love so much while cooking Pasta Arriabiata and dancing around the kitchen in that sexy way, and I could have just…" You get the picture.
Love is when you wake up in crumpled sheets (hopefully, not alone) with red sauce stains on the pillow, while still humming that tune.
Now, about that paying attention stuff. A cavity in that rear molar, that leaky pipe under the bathroom sink, and that little screek! screek! sound you hear when you apply the brakes will probably not be going away until you do something about them. Conversely, the unfed cat, the untended rose bush, and that wallet you left on the counter at the 7-Eleven will, sure as shooting, not last long. It's as simple as that. Live and learn or live and don't learn.
What do you do? What you do is what you should be doing, not only on Valentine's Day with flowers, dinner, and some heavy petting, but what you should be doing all year: paying attention. Pay attention to what you love and, certainly, feed, tend, and celebrate what you romance. Read the signs and follow the breadcrumbs. The relationship you save, if it's worth it to you, may be your own. Paying attention means that you realize that people grow, and if you don't grow together, you can surely grow apart.
Little things and big things keep romance alive. Taking care of yourself is the biggest. If you want to keep attracting, you have to be attractive. Next, if you can name counterproductive attributes that you have (be honest with yourself) and get rid of them, generally, that's another plus. Be ready to admit your weaknesses and your faults. It's all right to be wrong, and saying that you're sorry only matters if you are ready to change your ways.
Why am I on this rant? Because Valentine's Day has special meaning to me, and at this point, I can look back on my life and count my flaws like railroad ties. Lately, I don't count on nothin'. There are so many variables in relationships that, with one slip, it's down that slope.
I have a theory that each relationship will attempt to teach you something, and if you don't learn, it's on to the next one, until you either learn how not to be such a ___ ___ (fill in the blanks), or you'll keep missing the point and die lonely and alone.
Now, if you don't mind being alone, being your own best friend, and getting in touch with yourself on those cold and lonely nights, have at it. Most of us miserables like a little company.
That's my story, and I'm stickin' to it. Now, go out and make reservations at a romantic spot, buy expensive flowers, or maybe some trinket or other—a card would be nice that says "Roses are red…" or some such rot. I'm satisfied that I'll only get what I deserve.
My Valentine's present will be when she says to me, "You know, Honey, we don't need those things. It's Valentine's Day every day for us." Happy Valentine's Day, y'all!.