I am feeling refreshed and strong on this Valentine’s Day. My God, how happy I am to say that.
I wrote last year’s Valentine’s Day post with my leg up, crutches by my side. When I reread that 2012 post yesterday, I got a good chuckle at where my mind was a year ago. And there was also a twinge of sadness at the mention of a man I had a conversation with that day because — how could either of us have known? — it turned out to be my last conversation with him.
But there is no sadness today, only light. And here’s why. Over a week ago I scheduled a personal training appointment for today. It was a purposeful act. I felt and feel with every ounce of me that it’s time to get stronger (metaphor intended) on every front. Beginning now. Fresh start. I’m reloading, so to speak. What better day for embarking on self-love than Valentine’s Day?
Before I even got to the session, I woke to my usual email from The Writer’s Almanac. It has been particularly wonderful this week because they have been publishing old love letters of storied artists and other famous people. When I read them, I am entertained and lulled, but also validated. The expressions are so often tortured or obsessive or dramatic. Some of us love hard and — it comes with the territory — fall hard. The highs and lows can seem out-sized to those who don’t.
Napoleon to Josephine:
In the midst of my duties, whether I am at the head of my army or inspecting the camps, my beloved Josephine stands alone in my heart, occupies my mind, fills my thoughts. If I am moving away from you with the speed of the Rhone torrent, it is only that I may see you again more quickly.
Zelda to F. Scott Fitzgerald:
How can you think deliberately of life without me — If you should die — O Darling — darling Scott — It’d be like going blind. I know I would, too, — I’d have no purpose in life — just a pretty — decoration. Don’t you think I was made for you? I feel like you had me ordered — and I was delivered to you — to be worn — I want you to wear me, like a watch-charm or a buttonhole bouquet — to the world. And then, when we’re alone, I want to help — to know that you can’t do anything without me.
James Joyce to Nora:
You are my only love. You have me completely in your power. I know and feel that if I am to write anything fine or noble in the future I shall do so only by listening to the doors of your heart. … I love you deeply and truly, Nora. … There is not a particle of my love that is not yours.
I am intrigued by all of them, but truly The Writer’s Almanac today felt specially written for me in one specific way. It featured correspondence between Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. This is from the letter that began their relationship:
I love your verses with all my heart, dear Miss Barrett — and this is no offhand complimentary letter that I shall write — whatever else, no prompt matter-of-course recognition of your genius and there a graceful and natural end of the thing: since the day last week when I first read your poems, I quite laugh to remember how I have been turning and turning again in my mind what I should be able to tell you of their effect upon me …
That brought tears to my eyes in the best possible way. It rocked me. Truly rocked me. And flooded me with gratitude that I have had the experience of a man feeling that way about the one thing in my life I have always been sure of — my writing. That is so essentially me. It just is. I cannot pick up the phone and call him anymore, but no one can take that extraordinary experience away from me.
I am so very fortunate to have been seen through that lens. What bliss, surrounding me like a hug.
After reading the words of Robert Browning I nearly floated to my late morning appointment with Roger, my trainer. He challenged me, pushed through each wary look I gave him when he told me what we were doing next. And I just did it, no questions asked except with regard to my form.
“OK, I want you to do some pushups,” he said as he placed a mat on the floor.
I got on the floor but was thinking after a January of being sick and then out of town helping my parents after my mother’s knee surgery that I was not in shape to crank out even one. I was wrong. One followed another and another and another. An awakening. The entire session was filled with awakenings.
When I left the gym, I decided the day would have no ‘shoulds’ in it. I had stayed up late finishing something significant on my to-do list this week, something I’d been procrastinating over, and so felt unfettered on this day of love.
Maybe the most meaningful thing of all on this 2013 Valentine’s Day is that I finally feel open again to whatever comes my way in love. What a blessed relief.
Refreshed and strong. Here we go.