Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Here’s Your Valentine!

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day! Happy Valentine, Everyone!!!

Reading over last year’s post in this blog I found it to be rather gloomy and dark, in spite of the lightness this day is supposed to commemorate. There is a reason for that: I was going through a really rough time. Thanks to all my friends, all those who are a strong presence in my life and all those who love me, the bad time is past and hopefully banished forever.

Now out from under that cloud and definitely in happy spirits, I’m going to break my traveling chronology to write about some of the greatest loves I know.

Let’s see: historical great loves…

Antony and Cleopatra. Jesus and Mary Magdalene. David and Bathsheba. George Washington and Martha Dandridge Custis.

Cleopatra was, at the time the richest woman in the world. Antony and Octavian (later Augustus) shared the governing of Rome after it fell into anarchy and civil war following the assassination of Julius Cesar. In order to strengthen Rome’s strategic and military position, Antony needed money for the campaign he planned against the Parthian Empire. He summoned Cleopatra, who did not take kindly to being summoned. Nonetheless she finally relented, sailing up the river Cydnus in a barge filled with flowers and redolent of oils and perfume. She knew what she was doing… Antony took one look at her and was done for. Although he was married to Fulvia, who remained his wife and spearheaded the campaign against the Parthians, Antony sustained his relationship with Cleopatra for the rest of his life.

There is a great deal of controversy surrounding Jesus and Mary Magdalene’s relationship. Bible scholars tend to agree nowadays that Mary was at least Jesus’ right hand ‘man’, but most likely his thirteenth disciple. Much of this is open to question but the one fact remains: apocryphal writings reveal a deep love between the two.

David’s love for Bathsheba is no less controversial. Bathsheba, at the time married to Uriah, was bathing in a courtyard when David first saw her from his rooftop vantage point. Overcome by her beauty, he became enraptured and sent for her. When she informed him that she was married he ordered her husband, Uriah to be sent to the front lines of battle where he was killed. Bathsheba then ‘became’ his and their love endured.

George and Martha Washington. So captivated was George with his Martha that he proposed marriage after knowing her only 3 weeks. She accepted and they remained together, in love, until his death in 1799. Upon his passing she declared that she had no more trials to go through. She averred she would soon follow him and in fact did so, 3 years later in 1802. During those intervening years she closed off his study and the rooms they shared together, keeping herself to a third floor suite of rooms in Mount Vernon. The memories of shared spaces were too much for her to bear.

Do such great loves exist today? Certainly!

Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. They knew of each other since working together in their early Hollywood days but did not get together until 7 years later, when they met again while filming The Long, Hot Summer. Paul, recently divorced, proposed to Joanne and they kept their promise to each other for over 50 years, till death did them part in 2008 when he succumbed to lung cancer. Theirs was a remarkable relationship, being as Hollywood marriages tend to endure less than the flavor of a stick of Juicy Fruit gum.

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. They met on the set while filming Mr. and Mrs. Smith. At the time Brad was married to Jennifer Anniston and Angelina had just adopted her second child. Their on screen chemistry sizzled in such a way that the rumors started flying long before the relationship allegedly began. This is pure conjecture on my part but I don’t think either one intended to fall, and fall so hard for one another. It seems The Fates had other plans.

And here they are today, still together with their 6 kids, having survived all the tabloid muck and all the hatred from those who love Jennifer Anniston and feel like she was betrayed, and all those who believe Angelina is a filthy man thief who will dump Brad as soon as the next good looking guy comes along. And they still seem crazy about each other, and devoted to their family.

“Oh, yeah! Sure… those are historical loves and Hollywood loves” you say. “Don’t you know anyone personally who has a great love story going?

Sure I do! I know lots of people who, while not halves of a whole would not be complete without their partner.

Ron and Ann. George and Chris. Mel and Roberta. Gene and Gloria. Chuck and Marjorie. Karl and Michelle. Jim and Carol. Richard and Mary. David and Julie. Russ and Jeanine (you know about Russ from the Numbing Pepper entry, posted last November.)

These are people I actually know, who live and breathe and, with the exception of Russ occupy the earth today. I have had the pleasure of their company, of being in their home and of witnessing firsthand how deeply connected they are to each other.

It was OK for me to talk about the historical love stories and the Hollywood love stories. Those are public figures and their togetherness is on display for all the world to see. I have quoted and/or summarized previously published materials when writing about them.

I cannot go into details about the relationships of my friends. They have not given me permission to, and I wouldn’t even if they let me because their personal life and their relationship are private. You’ll just have to take my word for it that these couples exist, their love for one another is deep and their bond is a living, breathing thing that they sustain with hard work, tolerance, understanding and patience.

This Valentine’s tribute is for the great loves in my life. You know who you are. You should, you are mentioned 3 paragraphs up! As you celebrate this Lover’s Day, I applaud you for all the dedication you give each other and all the effort you devote to keeping your love alive.

And for those who do not have such a love to call your own?

It is OK to not be ‘half of a whole’. Long gone are the days where coupledom is mandatory and long past are the times where a woman alone stood no chance in this world.

What about if you want a love of your own?

There are no guarantees. I hope you will have it someday, sooner rather than later. In the meantime, I hope you are not pining away, waiting for someone to come and sweep you off your feet. I hope you are enjoying your life as it is now and, when that love does come around you will discover new dimensions and levels of joy.

“OK” you say. “One more question: Why not list Liz Taylor and Richard Burton in those Hollywood loves?”

Because their love was more of an addiction to one another. It was dangerous and dark and stormy, unhealthy and unsustainable. Undoubtedly they loved one another, but there were demons around and between them that conspired to drive them apart. Those demons were successful.

There might be something to the names, too. You’ll note that, with all the successful love matches the man’s name just ‘fits’ before the woman’s. In Liz and Richard’s, it is the other way around.

Now I’m just being silly! I should wrap this up. Here goes:

I wish for you, for everyone an addiction-free love that lasts and lasts. But more than that, I wish you peace and happiness, no matter what your love status is.

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