Letters of Life

My Top Five List: Romantic Things

Through a glass brightly. On the Ngorongoro Crater in the Serengeti, Tanzania, Africa, Dec 2011.

I should do more Top Five Lists (TFLs). They are

1) hugely popular with readers,

2) easy on the eye,

3) easy to compile (sorta, kinda),

4) the possibilities are endless, and best of all,

5) I get to dig through the rubble in my memory for nuggets, gobbets, and if lucky, might even find a few widgets that could come in handy some day.

Doing something romantic is a thoughtful impulse, an act originating from the heart, something silly even, based on deep affection and/or love for the other. I couldn’t find any definitions of the word that I liked for how I’m using it here. Definitions range from the heroic to the soppy to the academic (music and lit), and those weren’t what I had in mind.

The romantic act(romantique in French; doesn’t that sound—romantic?) is best defined and judged to be by the receiver. The giver might not even have given it much thought, but did the deed just because.

Of course, one girl’s idea of romantic could be another girl’s “Ewww!” Some bloke once gave me a ceramic rose, saying it was better than fresh because it would last forever. Ewwww.

You can tell a lot from my Top Five. I’m definitely not the roses/chocolates-on-my-birthday type. I would *love* to get those, of course, but it’s not on the List. Or candlelight dinners. I love candles, especially well-scented ones, and I flood my living spaces with candles whenever I have one of my legendary parties. But still. Not on the List. Yes, ultimately, it is always, always, the thought that counts. Still, to be on the List, there’s gotta be something different, something that surprises.

Man, how I love surprises.

Here then is my TFL of Things that came from the heart and lit up the moment forever. [Drumroll. . . ]

#5: When someone . . . played Round and Round for me over the telephone in the dead of the night

#4: When someone . . . sneaked a note into my powder compact so I would get a little surprise and think of him as I flew back to the US after college Christmas break.

#3: When someone . . . quoted lines from John Keats in a letter that crossed at least two oceans to get to me.

You fear, sometimes, I do not love you so much as you wish? My dear Girl, I love you ever and ever and without reserve. The more I have known you the more have I lov’d . . .You are always new. The last of your kisses was ever the sweetest; the last smile the brightest; the last movement the gracefullest.

#2: When someone . . . watched at least two seasons of Gossip Girl with me when he could be watching The Golf Channel.

#1: When someone . . . convinced me to fly to Kenya (via Dubai) to meet him for a three-day safari on the Masai Mara, leaving the kids behind for a week. And splurged on a hot-air balloon ride over the Masai at dawn, capping the trip with a champagne breakfast on the endless African savannah. (Sure, there were at least 20 other tourists with us, but that made it even more interesting. Ever seen Englishmen and Germans extremely jovial at 9 o’clock in the morning?)

There will always be grand gestures, but sometimes, it’s the silly, small and lovely things that make life amazing.

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