My Title of Liberty

     "In Memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children." - Alma 46:12    

Romance


To analyze romance may be to destroy it, but I will take the risk. Romance, like most everything else, has a good side and a bad side. My hope is that we can retain the good, and avoid the bad.


According to the New Oxford American Dictionary:

1. a feeling of excitement and mystery associated with love: in search of romance.

* love, esp. when sentimental, or idealized: he asked her for a date and romance blossomed. * an exciting, enjoyable love affair, esp. one that is not serious or long-lasting: a summer romance.

* a book or movie dealing with love in a sentimental or idealized way: light historical romances.

* a genre of fiction dealing with love in such a way: wartime passion from the master of romance.

2. a quality or feeling of mystery, excitement, and remoteness from everyday life: the beauty and romance of the night.

* wild exaggeration; picturesque falsehood: she slammed the claims as "pure romance, complete fiction." * a work of fiction dealing with events remote from real life.

3. a medeival tale dealing with a hero of chivalry, of the kind common in the Romance languages: the Arthurian romances.

* the literary genre of such works. 4. Music: a short informal piece.


Since my youth, I have considered myself a romantic. At first, it was equally emotional, idealized, and short-lived. One year in high school, I thought I was in love with tens of girls, one after another. Most of them I suppose never knew it, and most of the the others probably didn't think much about it once they did. There was one of whom I wrote pages of romantic poetry. Word got around to her, since I showed the poetry to others, and she came to me and asked to read them. She did, and then let me know that she was unavailable as a girlfriend in the very nicest way (she was certainly a good choice since I don't think that's a talent most high school girls have). Being young, I recovered quickly, though whenever I've thought of her since, it has been with a special fondness.

Romantic and serious love came to me as time for High School graduation approached. I went to a Baptist youth retreat and met her. At an evening service, she put her left hand on my right knee. I was terrified at first, and went to remove her hand gently with mine, but only managed to put my hand on hers, still on my knee. We wrote back and forth, since we lived about 45 miles apart. She came to my graduation, and then I went to hers, and then to an overnight celebration afterward (no hanky panky, but there was a snipe hunt). The next two years we went to colleges which were only about a mile apart. She broke up with me several times and then we would get back together again. I was deeply in love with her, but after another year of the same, she convinced me it was over.

About a year later, Romance came again to me. Actually, I was developing an interest in a girl at church (the Salvation Army, this time). However, she had other plans. She had a friend who was Catholic, who had fallen in love with me, and together they manipulated me (unaware at the time) into a boy-girlfriend relationship with the friend. Love, as they say, bloomed. Three years later, after I served 2-1/2 years in the Army, we were married. Both love and romance were true, but short-lived; she died 6 months later, leaving me alone.

My next marriage was more a victim of circumstance and misguided good intentions than anything else. The romance involved was the romance of rescuing a maiden (six years older than I) in distress. She moved into an apartment that I was just moving out of. I was still in the same building. I helped her moving her things in, and got acquainted with her at the same time. The apartment manager began harassing her (he did seem a little weird), and I began staying with her for her protection. I finally moved in with her - it seemed the sensible thing to do. I hadn't intended to just live with her, and I finally convinced her to marry me. For a while we got along alright, and I did love her, but she never really wanted to be married, and after a while things got worse between us. Some time after our son was born and then I joined the Church, she told me she wanted me to leave, move out. I refused for a while, but finally realized that if my refusal to leave was the only thing keeping us together it wasn't going to work. Beside's the recurrent displays of bad emotions were not good for our young son, either. So we separated, and later divorced.

My next romance began on the telephone. I was living with another guy from my Church to save money on the rent. A friend of his called, and then asked to talk to me - I don't remember what about specifically, but she wanted to know about me, at least. We began talking together on the phone on an almost daily basis, sometimes reading poetry, or humorous articles from magazines. I first met her in person at a piano recital and I remember her looking lovely, in a lacy dress, either blue or pink. A critical person would say she was short, skinny, and hunchbacked. She had been born a blue-baby, had open-heart surgery when she was only six, and had developed a serious side-ways curvature of the spine (scoliosis), but I was barely aware of anything but how lovely she looked. Because my divorce was not final for a while yet, we met only in public places, but had decided to marry when we could. And we did. We were married in the Idaho Falls Temple the next year and sealed together for eternity. She was proxy for my first wife, who had died, so that she might also be sealed to me for eternity, even though she had known nothing about the Church. We were married for over eight years, and went through a lot together. The last three months of her life, her condition worsened, and she needed to have a tank of oxygen with her everywhere. We still went to the coast together. Near the end, she told me she was dying. I didn't believe her. I said, "We are all dying." But her parents called me over one day and told me the doctors had told them she was dying, but didn't want to tell her (and I was always with her). I felt bad that I hadn't believed her when she told me. She died in the middle of the night. For a few days, I had family around all the time; my son's mother let my son stay with me. I had dreaded the first night I spent alone in the house, but I had a surpise. I received a warming sensation after I laid down and closed my eyes. I felt as if tepid flames were dancing all over my skin, and if I opened my eyes I would see them. Along with that came the solid conviction that my wife was now happier than she had ever been, and her sufferings were over. I slept well that night. The next day was the funeral. I was full of joy, almost giddy. I must have been a spectacle to others there, but I could barely contain myself. Yes, I was alone again, but she was well, and that knowledge was worth so much. I have some journals of hers that tell me that she felt about me as I felt about her.

In my most recent romance, I was the one to make the first move, though scared to death to move for a while. We were both Single Adult Representatives in our respective wards. We both went to a Halloween party for the Single Adults. I went as Doctor Who (as played by Tom Baker), and she didn't wear a costume. She was the only one there who recognized my character. Someone thought I was Harpo Marx, and someone else thought I was Kermit the Frog. I saw her sitting on a porch stair and asked her if she would like to dance (I had just had some simple lessons at the party). She danced with me, and said if I attended the Singles dances, she would dance with me. I did, and every dance I went to she danced with me. I danced with others, too, but I was seemingly drawn to her. I found out from someone the name of the street she lived on (I could have asked her for her phone number, right?), and went there. It was a short street, and in two parts. I was unable to find her house without a house number. I walked along the sidewalk, probably in front of her house, singing, "On the Street Where You Live." We met at a Fireside and I finally asked her for a date, her phone and address, and took her photo. Our first date was special; I think of it as the only real date I've ever had. I brought a gift, fancy chopsticks, for her, and a gift for her mother, a vanilla-scented candle. I hadn't known it, but vanilla candles were her mother's favorite. We had dinner at a Chinese restaurant, then went to see a movie, The Land before Time, and then drove around to see the Christmas lights. When we went back to her house, we sat on the couch and talked, all night. She made me breakfast before I went home for a couple of hours to sleep. When I returned, I brought my son with me. The following Sunday, in the parking lot of her Ward (We attended both our Wards together), I told her that I loved her. Whatever else I was going to say, I didn't get to. She interrupted me with, "I'm not ready yet." She said she had a couple of things (both good and important) to do before she would be ready - it might take four years. I told her I would wait. I gave her a pin that had belonged to my parents. It was the following month when she surprised me by telling me she had decided that we should get married as soon as we were able, and let me set the day. I said Valentine's Day, which was a month away then. A couple of our friends drove us to Seattle from Salem (I had to sing all the way to pay for the gas), and we were married and sealed for eternity in the Temple. Our friends presented us afterward with a cake and a bottle of Martinelli's Sparkling Apple Cider with which we celebrated. They drove us home where we spent our short honeymoon. Our daughter was expected on our first anniversary, but was six days late, though she could have been mistaken as premature by her size. Our marriage lasted about ten years before I saw any sign of trouble between us, but in the last few years, after we moved to Portland, she grew suspicious of me, and finally accused me of having an affair with someone at work with whom I had very little to do. To make it worse (if it could be worse), she thought I was doing something with our daughter. The truth is, I was getting so occupied with the trouble between my wife and I that I probably didn't pay enough attention to our daughter during the last months. I came home one day and they were gone. When I found out how to reach her (thanks to *69), she wouldn't tell me what was going on, and she went with our daughter to live with her mother. About three months later I was served with divorce papers. At some point, I could see no more future for myself. If I had not known God, I might have thought of suicide, but I did tell God I was ready to be taken if He was ready to take me. Though I thought I might die, He did not take me, so I know He has some purpose still for me here, but I still don't know what that is. I just do the best I can to help others. The romance of Romeo and Juliet is flawed, since not only were they probably willing to die to save each other (which would have been worthy romance), they were willing to kill themselves so as not to live without the other.  I made several bus trips to Salem for the divorce hearings, but the judge didn't seem interested in what I had to say. He even made a point of saying that he had not read an account I had mailed him of what happened from my point of view. The divorce was final. He only allowed me to write to my daughter, not visit her, unless she requested it. I don't see how my daughter really has a choice, while living with her mother. I believe my wife (now ex-wife) did what she thought was right, though it seems ever so wrong. I have idealized her, I know, but I believe that Christ will complete the ideal in His own time. I have placed her on a pedestal, and I'll leave her there in God's hands until that time.

For now my romance, my mystery, my ideal, and my excitement are based in Christ alone, but I have not lost them. As part of the priesthood which I hold, I honor, respect, and sanctify womanhood. There also is mystery and excitement. The smell of a perfume on the breeze, for instance. I consider women better than men, though for some reason some of them would lower themselves to a man's level and be "equal." It seems to me that most women, though they may tend to be smaller, and physically weaker than men, are able to do most things that men can do, do it better, and make it look easy, and of course, they can do some things that don't look easy that men can't.