When I was 13, I met the nicest boy my 13-year old romantic-self could have ever imagined. We spent an amazing week in the historical farmlands of New England, and he inspired me to believe that romance could be real. Then I went back to California and never spoke to him again. For the next 3 years, I idealized him and held fast that romance with a nice guy was worth holding out for. Then I discovered The Romantics. Not the band, mind you. I discovered poetry.
The next logical conclusion for my 16-year old self was to share the beauty of poetry with someone- but who? Well, the nicest guy EVER, of course! The one I had not spoken to for 3 years! I came up with the brilliantly, wildly romantic idea of sending him one poem a day for two weeks, leading up to Valentine's Day. Between Lovelace, Wordsworth and The Beatles, I had plenty of great material. I can still remember some of those poems now (they're good. Really, REALLY good.) What's even better about this story is that when our mutual friend discovered I was the secret admirer, she told me that he was in knots trying to figure out who could be sending him song lyrics and poetry. At the end of the two weeks, he somehow discovered that it was me. I had been utterly convinced that he wouldn't even remember who I was, but when he realized his secret admirer was me, he was- to put it mildly- excited. I can barely remember our telephone conversation that day- only feeling embarrassed at finally being discovered and also thrilled that he was so excited to know I remembered him. I promptly lost all interest afterward (he was on the other side of the country, after all!), but have never lost the thrill of lyricism of great poetry OR the thrill of romancing someone else.
Today, I find that I'm less willing to do something that will make me look vulnerable. Why would I put my soul, or heck! even my Tuesday night on the line, and risk giving a hint that I might be interested in someone before he proves that he's interested in me? What happened? When did romantic gestures become silly, impractical, and risky? Why aren't we more expressive, impulsive, and honest about our feelings? Would it be so terrible if people knew we liked them? Appreciated them? Admired them? And maybe even found them kissable? What are we so afraid of? And don't tell me "rejection;" because really, what's the difference between rejection and being ignored or suffering in silence? Either way, you end up without your paramour. At least by acting on your feelings you can share the thrill of potential magic. Magic. Chemistry. Poetry. It all transforms simple elements into something inspiring, uplifting, and beautiful. Maybe the process is more important than the end result. I still remember the thrill of marking my poetry books and finding the best lyrics far more than the thrill of actually talking to the boy I had used as my standard for romance for 3 years. At the risk of appearing reckless, maybe we should simply throw our romantic gestures out there a little more often and see what magic sticks. Because if chemistry can create a really, really bad smell sometimes, at some point, it's bound to make an amazing explosion. And hopefully, one day, we'll create a spark that lasts a lifetime.