Until my late twenties, I possessed the naif’s distorted if highly romantic view of what love would be like as a firsthand experience. A couple of weeks ago, I experienced a sudden and unexpected surge of love at the most unlikely, least romantic moment I could have imagined. Following is the difference between the movie love I imagined in my youth and the mature love I’ve come to relish in middle age.
So Happy Together
One of the benefits of cutting back is that I now enjoy lunches at home with my wife on most weekdays while the kids are in school. These are not elaborate dates together, but simple moments where we check in and appreciate one another’s company. We talk about interesting articles we’ve read in the Times or the New Yorker, ideas we came across that challenged our assumptions, literature we’ve enjoyed – a routine that is at once mundane and beautiful.
The Apple Of My Eye
As lunch drew to a close this particular weekday, I sliced an enormous Fuji apple on a cutting board and we picked at the slices together until all that remained was the core.
As I brought some dishes up to the kitchen sink, my wife asked me not to throw out the core, since there was still plenty of apple to gnaw on before it ought to be discarded.
This was a woman who did not want to waste even a small amount of food that could still be enjoyed. I felt precisely the same way, and informed her that I planned to gnaw on the remnants as well. It was our Lady and The Tramp sharing the same pasta moment, and the fact that we felt so similarly underscored our connection.
It’s About More Than Sex
There are moments in life where love floods over you – during a spring hike in the months of new courtship, or on a beach at sunset on your honeymoon. These moments of “movie love” are rare and become less frequent over time.
Physical contact and intimacy remain important, but a sense of companionship gradually comes to complement touch. Being coupled provides the privileged experience of understanding someone’s dreams, vulnerabilities and world view up close and in great detail. When it works, it means you know what makes the other person tick.
This is an exhilarating feeling because to know someone, and to feel known in return, has turned out to be one of life’s great pleasures.
The Opposite of Lonely
Like finding a long-dead author who once captured your sentiments with precision or stumbling upon a blogger who is a misfit in the same way you are, it’s the opposite of lonely to find such a person.
The moments of love that bind you to a partner occur in mundane instants over something as unlikely as an apple core, when you recognize a kindred spirit or discover yet another way that you’ve grown together with your companion.
It’s a lifetime of seeing in black and white undergoing the sudden transformation to vision in vibrant color.
May those who have yet to experience it be fortunate enough to find it, and those who possess it be wise enough to savor it while it lasts.