In celebration of Valentine’s Day, (cough), I thought we could talk about love.
Confession: I write romance, but I am probably the least romantic person in real-life.
I have no idea why that is. Perhaps it’s because in my family growing up, we never said it. I mean, we knew we loved each other, me, my mom and my dad. But we didn’t toss around those words lightly. We didn’t toss them around hardly at all. Yet I never doubted for a moment that my parents loved me.
Having spent a few of my formative teen years at an all-girls boarding school in England, I certainly wasn’t exposed to declarations of undying affection from anyone. That was the time in my life when I began to read romance, however, starting with Gone With The Wind. I suppose that explains it. While Scarlett throws those three little words around with fervor, Rhett plays his cards close to his chest. When he finally tells Scarlett he loves her, he means it. And it’s forever. At least until he chucks her down the stairs.
But you know what I mean, right? Most of you reading this are probably American. Incase you’re not aware, the British are very different when it comes to declarations of love. They are quite reserved for the most part, and just don’t talk about such things. As you may know, I’m a huge Downton Abbey fan, and I think the Dowager Countess is simply wonderful. And while I can’t find the exact quote, in one episode she says something like, “I suppose you’ll want us to talk about our feelings, like the Americans.” (paraphrasing).
I always thought it was rather strange, hearing my American friends tell each other, “I love you.” I once had a best friend who left Bermuda to go and live in America. When she came back for a visit the following year, we hugged goodbye when it was time for her to go (I was about 11 or 12 I suppose) and she said those horrifying words. I didn’t know what to do with that. Years later, when my then boyfriend who turned out to be my forever after Prince Charming, told me he loved me, I wanted to know why. I needed to understand the meaning behind the words. Over at his house they threw those words around like a baseball. Somebody was always telling somebody that they loved them. It was such a foreign concept to me that I almost questioned the sincerity of it all.
Don’t get me wrong, I do believe in saying I love you. I just don’t do it often. My children know I love them. My husband knows I love him. And sometimes they will force it out of me for the fun of it in the most awkward of moments.
But you know, for me, those are sacred words. Words I don’t believe should be tossed around lightly. Words that once spoken, shouldn’t be taken back. Ever. I think this comes across in my writing. When my characters finally get to the moment of truth, when they know without doubt that this is it, this is that now or never moment when you’re going to lay it all on the line or forever hold your peace, you feel it. You feel it so deeply that it makes you want to cry. And sometimes you do.
For me, it’s a balance of the right words at just the right time. If I hear I love you, too often, my eyes tend to glaze over. The magic is somehow lost on me. Some people tell everyone they know, including the postman, that they love them. That’s definitely not me. If I’m going to speak those words aloud to anyone, it’s going to be for good reason. And I’ll mean it.
The funny thing is, I’m a sucker for a great romance novel or movie. I just love that moment where the two characters you’ve been rooting for get together at long last and just go ahead and say it! And then of course there’s the wonderful moment where the guy sweeps the girl up in his arms and kisses her like they’re never going to see each other again. Ahh, that’s what I’m talking about. Add a very satisfying ending to all that, and you’ve got yourself a fan.
So you tell me – how do you feel about saying I love you?
AND THE WINNER OF SUSAN MEISSNER’S A SOUND AMONG THE TREES IS: LINDSAY HARREL! CONGRATS LINDSAY! I’LL BE IN TOUCH.