I used to like giving flowers.
Years ago, when I first started dating, I used to give a bouquet of flowers on the first date. I stopped after seeing a pattern that the girls I gave them to really didn’t like getting flowers. One even told me, “You’re giving me a dead plant that I now have to find a vase and give water to.” So I stopped giving them flowers.
A friend pointed out that I had a bad habit of dating women less worthy of my attention. I see now that she’s right. Not that I’m getting a big ego or anything. But I did have a knack for finding women who lacked the love of romance.
I haven’t written much in a while either.
I haven’t found a need to, or more so, a desire to.
Sure I’ve written a novel series, but I haven’t written a letter in a while. Years actually. Now when I say letter, I do not mean email. I mean an actual handwritten letter that you fold when done, slip in an envelope (remember those?), lick a stamp and send it on its way. The most I’ve done was send a care package to a dear friend… but I neglected to send a letter with it. Not even a card.
For that, I feel some great amount of shame.
People say, “You’re a writer, how can you not like to write?”
Because I’m a storyteller. I never like to say I’m a writer.
J. Michael Stracynski is a writer.
J K Rowling is a writer.
J. R .R. Tolkein was a writer.
I tell stories.
I draw people and characters in places and situations that I make up in my head, and then write what I hear them say, and tell their tale.
But I haven’t wanted to for quite some time.
Then two nights ago, I went out for coffee.
I sat at the counter and watched couples go off to the movies. None of them smiled. They aloofly held the hand of their beau, put on outrageous amounts of makeup and dressed to the nines, nylons and stiletto pumps aplenty – while their boyfriends walked with them wearing stained jeans with dark blazers covering their wrinkled t-shirts. Not a smile among them.
It was like they were only with each other because it was what they were supposed to do… like a status symbol. It might as well had been an arranged marriage. They smoked their cigarettes, drank their beers and apple martinis and waited for the ten o’clock show to start.
I sighed, rolled my eyes, and sipped my coffee.
And then I saw them.
In walked a couple that practically ran to the ticket kiosk. They might have been only on their third date, but who cared. They were smiling. No.
They were glowing.
They held hands and meant it. They didn’t want to let go.
He’d punch in the code for their movie while she held his arm, grinning still. And no the kind where it’s cheesy or cornball and make you want to throw up your Cheerios. Theirs was different. It was genuine. She really liked him… I mean like LIKE liked him. The kind of like that went back to grade school notes passed in class that had sentences like “Do you like me? Check one box, yes or no.”
They even did that kiss where she threw her arms round his neck, he held her and she lifted one foot in the air.
Man, I love seeing that.
I had to smile.
I hadn’t seen something like that in a while. A couple months ago, a friend moved away. A really special friend. One of my best friends since I moved out here. I never even got a goodbye. So… in short, I felt I wasn’t even worth a goodbye.
My heart broke as a result… so I didn’t feel or want to feel a connection for a while. I just dated just to date.
But then I saw them.
Two people who still wanted romance in the world.
Two people who still liked the cheesy stuff.
The cornball stuff we throw stones at.
And it was then I realized, I’ve found my story.
I wanted to write again. It wasn’t that I was tired of couples.
I was tired of cynicism.
I wanted to see romance again… But I had to get away from the cynicism.
So I ran. I got the hell up on out of that place. I blinded myself from the cigarette smokers outside the theater finding criticisms about a movie they just saw trying to impress their date with their wit and insight. I jogged past the couples who held hands with grimaces painted across men’s faces of scalded aftershave and women’s lines of over-drawn mascara.
I sped down the freeway, got to my building, sprinted into my apartment, and got to my computer.
And I wrote this piece you’re reading now.
Time to face the world again.
Romance doesn’t mean doing everything with someone. Sometimes you do it on your own.
Sometimes you do it for you.