Sunday, March 20, 2011
Finding an Old Valentine
I came across this. A long while ago a local San Francisco station ran a contest in which 4 or 6 people might win a competition for writing about their valentines. Each of the winners would have a segment on their station, with video of the writer and his or her valentine, as the writer read the text that had won. I was chosen as one among the six, and I had to prepare for a camera to intrude on a certain still shy person -- In my place I created Tiger Face which I posted on my wall to safeguard me and my valentine.
"Our love story began fourteen years ago when she left the person she was living with and came to my house. We were both very strung‑out – not a good place to begin to learn how to love, but we taught each other; it would require a very long book to describe the ups and downs by which we have come to the place we are now; it’s much less dramatic, but this is where the greater love story begins.
"You would hardly think it romantic that she is dying of leukemia. Dying heroines excite love in movies and operas, but in our everyday lives we don’t think of sickness and dying as attractive.
"Yet it has been affection that has grown, not any feeling of dread or disgust. Draped in my arms, her body growing lighter and lighter, it’s as if she were not dying but turning into a silk scarf. This is the end that should be terrible, but it’s like a long last act of La Traviata with brave Violetta singing her last song over and over,
but never really letting go. I will go on being suspended in her song even when she is gone.
"A greyness and a whiteness is being cast over her color as if she will disappear under snow. But the love she has given me will remain, better than words, a big red rose like a cardinal jumping down a snowbank. You wouldn’t think this was romantic either, but I know I will always smile, after I cry, when I remember the brush of her whiskers against the corner of my mouth. She does that when she’s hungry for petting, affection, or food. Love is love, you know, no matter who teaches you, even someone like my dear cat Cirrus."
I suppose you found "the hook" in this piece, that probably assured its acceptance, by the second paragraph, if not right away. It was a sweet video, I think, but the video played on what I had counted would also cause it to win: the image of the pathetic old gay guy, lonely, with no friend but his "great love," his cat. Well, it was not all cunning and ego, and I DID learn to love from my cat, as all cat lovers know.