Absence Makes the Heart

Steve’s home! He’s been away since Tuesday morning at the regional Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, workshopping his adaptation of Gilgamesh and a ten-minute play.

I missed him, but this separation was much easier for me than the same one two years ago. Part of it’s that I’m a much happier woman now. More comfortable with silence, more content with my own company. There are stories percolating in my head, spilling from my fingers, and it makes it harder to be lonely. And part of it is living in the city. I’m surrounded by people as I walk and bus everywhere; it’s so easy to stop at the library or the coffee shop on the way home. And, oh, DC is a fabulous place to be this weekend. I was downtown yesterday as they practiced for the Inaugural Parade, and streets were closed, police directing traffic, tourists gawking, vendors hawking Obama memorabilia on every street corner. When I watched the news last night, I cried. There’s so much hope and excitement, as omnipresent as the cold air knifing in at ankles and wrists and noses. This is the first winning president I’ve voted for, the first politican I’ve voted for with my heart instead of just my party. And this is my city now. It’s so exciting, even if I’m just watching TV on Tuesday like the rest of the world.

Maggie Stiefvater wrote a gorgeous post today about the little gestures that comprise a great romance. It made me think of all the tiny things I miss when Steve’s away. There’s no one to kill bugs for me, to grab me a glass of soda while he’s up, to clean up the hairball before I step in it with my bare feet (yech). There’s no one to tell me I’m pretty without any makeup, to kiss me when I’m grumpy, to scratch my back, to giggle with or play Rummikub with or read with in the wee hours before bed. There’s no one to get irritated with because he crunches pretzels so loudly I can hear it from three rooms away.
Those are the little things that help you stay in love, no matter how you fell. It’s not the huge gestures at all. It took me awhile to learn that, in my own life–to stop insisting on the storybook idea of romance, the flowery words, the "we are having a moment if it kills us, damn it" moments. In my book, my main character is torn between two boys–one who’s sexy and complicated and a little bit sketchy, and one who’s sweet and easy and funny. It might sound like an easy choice. It’s not. Sometimes I think we crave drama. We want the challenge, even if it breaks our hearts a little. Maybe we’re not ready for it to be so uncomplicated, maybe we think we have to earn it, maybe it takes some time to learn storybook love isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. We try to force everyday love into a picture we carry around in our heads, a picture snatched from bits and pieces of books and movies and couples we pass on the street. What Love Should Look Like. I think that’s why, in the end, books like Twilight don’t work for me. I’m as susceptible to deferred lust and sparkly boys as anyone, and I gobbled it up at first. But in the end, when Breaking Dawn was still grand gestures and glossy romance? It felt empty. In the end, I want real everyday love (okay, maybe a trifle more romantic than hairballs), not the fantasy of what love ought to look like.
Um. Did I just incorporate Obama and Edward Cullen into the same post? I think I did.

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