Wouldn’t you know it? I was minding my own business reading a book when she came in and sat down. I got a feeling that something was up but continued reading and pretended not to notice. She didn’t go out of her way to get my attention, but something was obviously on her mind.
Eventually, I casually put the book down and looked at her and smiled, but her expression didn’t change. I held my smile through a pregnant pause but after a few more moments I ventured into dangerous territory by asking nonchalantly, “What’s up?”
She let out a muted sigh and said simply, “Oh nothing.” She sighed again and said not so much to me but to the room in general, “I just have a lot on my mind.”
I had a feeling I hadn’t yet dodged the bullet, but I reached over and gave her a re-assuring squeeze on the wrist, smiling again and pretended to resume reading my book.
A few more seconds went by and she dropped her stare off into the room and I could perceive that she was again looking at me. Then she hit me with it.
“Why do you love me?”
I knew she was not the type to be insecure, and all of us can probably use some reminders from time to time, but wow! What a trap question! She wasn’t the sort to set traps for me either, so she must have been amidst some heady thoughts to lay that one at my feet.
I set the book down and thought for a second. She also wasn’t the type to be satisfied with a bunch of trite, small examples such as comments on her looks or specifics about her personality. She would be looking for something more profound. I decided to quote from Ayn Rand, knowing she’d be familiar with both the quote and the sentiment.
“[Love is a] response to [one’s] highest values in the person of another”
She recognized the citation immediately but wasn’t satisfied. “Yes, I understand that much. And I agree, but I don’t mean in someone else’s words. Why do ‘you‘ love ‘me‘?”
Ugh, again bullet not dodged. I scrambled through thoughts and possible words but decided to stick with that sentiment. “Because you represent the kind of person I would like to spend my time with. And frankly, because I seem to be the type of person you like to spend time with.”
“So,” she pondered a moment, “you’re saying that a big part of why you love me is because I love you?”
“Well, that’s part of it, yes. I wouldn’t much want to spend a lot of time around someone that didn’t feel about me as I did them.”
She nodded to herself and again stared off into space. I knew she wasn’t quite yet satisfied so I too stared off across the room in thought. Then I saw the picture and a thought hit me.
“There!!!!” I exclaimed, standing up and pointing at the same time. I did it so suddenly, it startled her in my doing so.
“What?” she said snapping out of her thoughts looking around frantically.
“Sorry, didn’t mean to startle you, but there is a great example.” I pointed to the picture. She looked at the picture then again at me with a puzzled look. “Do you remember what I said when I took that picture?”
“Of course, you said it reminded you of me,” she answered.
“But what did I say just before that? Do you remember?” She thought a moment but couldn’t seem to recall. “First I pondered about the guys in the boat. I said ‘they have no idea how they are framed right now – the clouds, the birds, the setting moon. Sure they might see and revel in their own thoughts as to each, but they have no perception as to how we see them – all of them together – here from the beach. Picture perfect.‘” She nodded remembering. “Then I mused that ‘had we been here but five minutes later we would have never seen it or gotten the picture.‘ Remember?”
“Yes, I remember. You always are a philosophical sap.” Considering the current situation I thought to myself ‘And you aren’t?’ but decided it would be best not to say it.
“Don’t you see?” I asked imploringly. “It was our perspective on the beach that let us see them that way. Well that’s how I see you all the time. It reminds me of you because of where I stand in relation to you. Because of the things we share in common and because of the ways I understand (and appreciate) how you are different. I see you the same way I see that boat and those clouds and that moon – all together, picture perfect!”
She lit up for a moment delighted at that though and she even showed the hint of a blush. But I could still see the gears churning in her head. She sat back again in the chair rolling something over before resuming.
“But…. if I had come along five minutes later – or you – you might not have seen me that way and we might not be together?”
“I’m not saying that, but who knows? We could speculate all day long.” I said, knowing that I’d just lost a lot of the ground I had just gained.
“So it’s a Minchin thing isn’t it?” she said looking right at me, but I could detect a slight twinkle in her eye now. This all wasn’t necessarily a test, she was just interested in hearing my responses. I wasn’t fully off the hook, but at least some of her motivation for the questions was mischievous – outside of simply looking for reassurances.
I decided to play dumb. “Minchin?” I asked.
“You know, that song you like by Tim Minchin. ‘If I didn’t have you, I really think that I would have somebody else’?”
I knew what she meant but was playing along now. We’d discussed that song before, and although she didn’t appreciate it as much as I did, I was satisfied she at least understood it.
“It’s more complicated than that. Remember, he also says in that song that ‘the connection is strengthened, the affection grows over time’.
She seemed to be mulling those things over. I thought I caught a faint hint of a smile, almost as a sign of ‘you’re doing better than a I thought you might‘ with that faint glimmer in her eye, but I wasn’t quite sure. So I walked over to the picture.
“OK, imagine – for example – that I happened upon this sailboat with my camera. And I liked taking pictures of sailboats with my camera and of seascapes with birds and moonlight or sunsets. Then along comes this boat. And it just so happens that this boat likes to have it’s picture taken. As luck would have it the boat crosses under the moon catching my attention. Serendipity! And I just happen to have my camera. Blind luck! And the boat sees me taking it’s picture and comes to shore to see what I took. Correlation! And the boat likes the picture, and I like the picture. Mutual satisfaction! So rather than my going back home and the boat sailing off to sea, we decide to stay together a while, the boat sailing along the shore, me walking along taking it’s picture, both of us enjoying the pictures I take (of the boat sailing on the sea). We’re both doing what we want to do and enjoy doing, but for our mutual benefits and changing our plans to that end.” I was rambling now and got a bit sidetracked, but she wasn’t giving me any indicators that she was getting the point I was making.
She just stared a moment at the picture then pondered out loud, “Then, you think at some point I’ll just sail off and leave you on the shore when I get bored of having my picture taken? Is that it?”
Now she was being outright mischievous. She was satisfied a while ago and probably only wanted to see me squirm a little, but now she was just looking to see what other tidbits of ‘great wisdom’ on the subject of ‘us‘ and ‘love‘ she could squeeze out through sheer brutal teasing.
“Now! I did not say that! Sticking with the analogy – you like the ‘pictures‘ I take of you. Besides, I could always go home with my camera too you know!”
“You wouldn’t dare!” she said, grinning and standing up to come along side me to look at the picture.
I looked at her, my eyes now full of the passion I feel for her. “It’s not just that you are here with me, but that you have been here with me and I’m reasonably secure that if I continue to treat you with respect and affection (and vice versa) you will be here (and I with you) for the unforeseeable future.”
“You damn well better treat me with respect… and affection!” she said still half-teasing and kissed me on the cheek. Then she added, “You really see me like that all the time?” first looking at the picture then looking up into my eyes.
“Yes.” I said.
“Well, sticking with your metaphor then… thank you for taking my picture.” she said, her eyes now full of love.
“Thank you for staying near shore,” I responded.
be sure to check out some of my other ‘romantic fiction‘ shorts: