High, hollowed in green
above the rocks of reason
lies the crater lake
whose ice the dreamer breaks
to find a summer season.
‘He will plunge like a plummet down
far into hungry tides’
they cry, but as the sea
climbs to a lunar magnet
so the dreamer pursues
the lake where love resides.
Denise Levertov (b. 1923)
I read this poem and think about early love. Because once you’ve found the person to whom you say ‘yes, forever’, then the quest is over, isn’t it?
Today I thought, no, actually, it isn’t.
Every last thing about mundane life is designed to make you forget about early love. Council tax, the little balls of hair in the corners of the carpet, nappy bags, chilli and rice for dinner. Chilli and rice is a prosaic meal. It’s not a meal for lovers. (We eat it all the time.)
When one of you works too hard and the other is too prone to fits of cabin fever, and both of you, now you think about it, spend a lot of time getting poo under the fingernails, well – keeping that intake of breath and whirling in the stomach takes effort. It’s like trying to hold a butterfly in your hands. It needs seeking out, all the time. What a heroic and beautiful thing, to seek out first love and hold it tight, the delicate flutter on the palms of your hands.
Today is Valentine’s Day, and after a week like this one, our highest of high V-day dreams involved packing the boys off to bed early enough to eat something nice. Then Sarah called in howling rain to say she was nearby, and did we want her to pop in to watch the boys while we grabbed something quickly to eat. I took out a toy car from each pocket, put on my elephant-sized raincoat and off we popped. We had a Five Guys burger and talked about where we want to take ourselves this year. It was blissful. We weren’t dressed up to the nines and they’re not sweet nothings, not anymore. But why would you want to talk about nothing, anyway? These are our everythings.
Falling in love is the easy part. Working to stay there – that takes a quest.
We can keep seeking together. I can’t think of a better Valentine promise than that.