A Love Story Reimagined: Part I

Like many of you, I’m having difficulty coming to terms with the new normal of necessary widespread social distancing in light of COVID19. I was going to write about that today, as there are a couple directions I could go. I could share how it reminds me of being on bed rest when I was expecting my daughter, and the lessons I learned then. I could write about how a certified hermit like me feels about everyone else suddenly appropriating the space I occupy (literally and figuratively), but while I was out walking earlier, another idea captured me, so maybe next time.

As I wandered in my neighborhood, appreciating the blooms of the Judas trees and how the temperature of the gusting breeze is just perfect today, I found myself thinking about weddings. Full disclosure: I was listening to an audible book in which the narrator is anticipating her own upcoming wedding. It’s early in the book, but all signs point to the soon-to-be-articulated fact, no doubt, that the narrator’s fiancé is not the love of her life. My mind began to wander and I thought of unlikely pairings, traditional weddings, non-traditional wedding attire, until suddenly I found myself thinking of a great aunt whom I never met (or maybe I did once when I was a child) and her husband. I’ve always thought of their marriage as a storybook romance, but I have nothing to base that on, other than it was such an unexpected and unlikely coupling, given their backgrounds.

I won’t share their real names — let’s call them Amy and Winston. The people who are left who did know them and have memories of them might object to me publicly speculating about the state of things between Amy and Winston, and that matters to me. All families have secrets, and my maternal, paternal, step, marital, and other volunteer families are no different. It’s disquieting to have a writer in the family; I try not to tell other people’s secrets, except for the ones that also belong to me, either because I lived them or because they were shared with me in a way that gives me that permission. Over the course of my life, I’ve been jarred by the revelation of a few secrets that had been kept from me (not just me, but others too), not because I attached scandal to the secrets (though some prigs might categorize one or two of them thus) or judge the holders of such secrets harshly, but because their discovery changed long-held pictures I had had of how things were. It changed the context of conversations I had had. It changed my understanding of things I was told as a child. One revelation in particular made greater my admiration for someone I had admired very much already, and I would’ve liked to have told her so before she left this world. So, my knowledge of Amy and Winston isn’t so much factual, and even if I ever thought it might be, I am so much less sure of what I “know” now. It is inspired by stories I heard, and also by things that were not said in the telling and retelling of those stories. A sense of who they were as a couple was conveyed to me, whether by those who knew them or by my own imagination, I can’t now say.

I will attempt on my next writing to weave a brief tale of the Amy and Winston of my imagination. First, though, I should probably manage expectations. My definition of “romantic” may not be what you think of when you think of romance. There won’t be flowers and candles and wine and soft music. There will be bravery, strength, discovery, and a stout love that results in the pair finding themselves in places they never imagined, doing things they never imagined they would be doing.

Should any of my family stumble across the story, they’ll recognize the real Amy and Winston as the inspiration. I wonder if they’ll recognize anything of the real people whom they knew, and who have long stirred my imagination and curiosity.

Stay safe. Stay home. Thanks for reading.

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