A short story, personal anecdote, and a little two cents on how we portray love.
“You have never surprised me!” Olivia said.
“Never! C’mon, I got you a bedspread on your birthday from Walmart. Even you were there. You forget and then blame me!” Ben said.
“Exactly my point, I was there. How can it be a surprise, then? And, bedspread. Seriously! That’s what I get for being born!” Olivia snapped.
These guys have always made each other’s “special” days special by having a particularly memorable night. A night of sarcasm, “Oh! That’s the best you can come up with?” snaps, taunts, “I am done with you!” and a pillow barrier is their idea of fun. There are no kisses; no hugs (none that was ever seen). No “baby-ing” each other, no Instagram posts crowded with heart-emojis and passionate quotes from Google search. No verbal apologies.
And then, suddenly in the mornings, both of them are ready to rock the world with no visible aftermath of the night. I mean, was it a drama? I would need an apology, or I would give one if I think it was my mistake-preferably handwritten with correct punctuation to even be on speaking terms with him again. Now, here they are, giving no subtle hints about the previous night. Olivia cooking breakfast, packing his lunch, and Ben getting ready for work.
“Mom, I need to write about love and intimacy in a relationship for an essay. I need to get some practical experience,”, I said.
“All in due time, my hasty little girl. As far as the essay is concerned, write about your dad and me,” my mom suggested.
Laughingly, I replied, “Mom, seriously! Did you hear the topic? It’s about love and intimacy and not about who comes up with better comebacks.”
“If you only have one small cupcake in your fridge after a long day and your partner asks for it as well. What would you do?” my mom asked.
To sound mature and kind, I said, “I would still share” (cupcakes over boyfriend, any day).
“Would you give him a bigger half? Don’t try answering. I know you wouldn’t. Well, your dad would say that he hates cupcakes and is not hungry,” my mom declared.
“Yes, I understand that our relationship and our “love and intimacy” do not fit in your definition, and it’s ok. Everyone has a different definition, and your dad fits perfectly in mine. He does come home late; you guys remind him of my birthday, but he never forgets to wish my mom. He wouldn’t compliment me, but his eyes sparkle when he introduces me to his colleagues. We are aware of each other’s insecurities. I know him better than himself and he, well, he doesn’t know my favorite movie or favorite color, but he knows when I am missing my sister. He would simply call her and then give it to me. So, my girl, let me know about the guy to whom you want to give the entire cupcake.”
There have been poems composed, songs developed, dramas performed on the theme of love and relationships. I think love, as an emotion, is like a plant. Its roots need trust, the branches depict intimacy, communication, faith, and acceptance. And its leaves… well, they are different for every individual. For one group, it’s a candlelight dinner on every anniversary; for military personnel, it’s the mere presence of the loved one. For corporates, its an hour without a single email; for senior citizens, a listening ear for their retro love stories. My parents have been developing their leaves in the last 20 years and are still going on good (touch wood)! Intimacy in a relationship is as subjective as milk in coffee; it’s a different version for everyone.
“You forgot garlic and ketchup. I texted you the grocery list! Everything, I only have to do!” Olivia snapped. Ben winked.
Featured graphic by Savanna Smithson