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romanticism

“Later I quietly straightened my things, my notebook and the fountain pen. The cobalt inkwell that had been his. My Persian cup, my purple heart, a tray of baby teeth.” — Just Kids, Patti Smith

 

Not in the way of romantic love, rather a state of being, in finding meaning in life’s smallest details, in the noticing of them in the first place, in the tendency to feel heartbroken over something so seemingly insignificant as a feather on the sidewalk or a loose button in a tiny bowl.

I am raising my hand as incurable.

My sentimental leanings might make me more susceptible to tears, but I don’t seem to care about that anymore.

I do try my best not to hold on to too many things. I don’t like the feeling of being weighed down by objects or being a slave to the upkeep of them. I realize, however, when I look at where I live, that most of the things I do have wouldn’t mean anything to anyone but me. They are mostly things that tell my story, and things that point me in the direction that I want to go.

In the photo accompanying this post you see the magnetic board I had made to be a sort of changing art installation — an upgraded bulletin board I guess — it’s about six feet tall and four feet wide, heavy and unwieldy — the thing is a romantic gesture in itself, as I was planning to plan and plot with and be inspired by it. It is propped against the wall behind my desk so that I face it when I sit here. It’s where I put the photos I want to see everyday, the words I want to think of, the people I’d like to emulate (note K. Hepburn and L. Hutton dressed in their white shirts and masculine trousers – both embodying my emerging sartorial direction), a card from a café in Paris where I ate with H. on a quick trip there 3 years ago. The shape of it all changes a lot, just as I do. Sometimes I’ll rework it, make some space on it for new things, while the ones I take down go in a box I keep on a shelf. There are 3 boxes now.

There is energy in objects just as there is energy in a thought or a wish. I pick up a small, clear crystal from a baby blue, heart-shaped bowl and rub it with my thumb as I think. Why do I have this crystal? Why do I have a heart-shaped bowl? Maybe optimism, maybe attachment to the ideas each thing holds for me.

Maybe being romantic is just about having hope. When we do attach the word to love, isn’t that what it’s really about? Believing that a relationship can actually work out? Did anyone ever fall in love while simultaneously telling themselves that it would only last a few years and then they’d move on? Why bother?

Maybe being a romantic is about having hope that it’s never too late to dream. Believing that we will wake up tomorrow. The photographs, my son’s first pair of blue jeans, the collected, tiny gold bands in my ring box that I stack up on my fingers some days, the crocheted dress that my Mama wore when she was a baby, my charm bracelet, my dogeared cookbooks, my first editions, that pair of fawn, suede Lanvin oxfords that tie with grosgrain ribbons that I bought on a trip to Paris with my very best friend to celebrate our 40th birthdays, cards with words I like written on them, a drawing of stars I made with a fountain pen, reminders to keep at the work even when, especially when, it gets harder than I ever imagined it would be… talismans of a life lived – of things seen, of love given and received, of work done – and reminders that there’s, Lord willing, another breath to take and a way in which I want to take it.

Hold on to your hope. Be proud of it. It doesn’t make you fragile, in fact, I think it does exactly the opposite.

Happy Monday, Y’all.

AM