The Minutiae of Love

Minutiae…..the small, unimportant, trivial details. They don’t much matter. But, that doesn’t mean they go unnoticed. Not by me anyway. I sometimes get lost in the minutiae of life and to the minutiae of love. I remember the details that didn’t matter to the situation, or to the person, or to the love. But it’s all part of the memory and moment to me.

My friend opened my eyes recently to this part of my soul. Before, I would have said I love deeply, passionately, and hard. I don’t truly fall in love easily. Once I do, however, it is not a fleeting effort. But this….the “minutiae of love’….he showed me that. At first I was a little insulted. Minutiae? Was he saying I was bogged down in trivial nonsense? Then I actually heard what he was saying and the tenderness and truth of that statement was like a revelation to me. I do appreciate the minutiae of love.

I remember the tiny bag of popcorn I shared with a boy on my first date, the sweet smell of the butter mixing with the musty smell of well worn velour on the seats. I don’t remember what ballet we saw. I don’t remember any conversation with his family on the long drive to and from the theatre. I remember a very sweet boy, some tentative & awkward hand holding, and a bag of popcorn. And I smile.

I have a torn and wrinkled paper in my jewelry box with faded pencil scratches. Once upon time it was a note from my best friend. It was the note she’d left me after our first  big fight. I thought I would never have her as my friend again. I don’t remember what we fought about. I don’t remember what the note said.  Most of the writing has faded away. The “BFF” scrawled at the bottom told me I got my friend back. I see  what’s left of the note now and I smile.

There was a time I loved a farm boy very much. We would rest between the rows in an unplowed field and talk as the sun slowly set. I can still feel the damp earth under my back, smell the grape leaves dancing in the breeze overhead, and see the clouds tucking us ‘neath their protection as we dreamed of our future together well into the night. To this day, when I hear tractors or see vineyards, I remember that simple joy. And I smile.

As a very young girl, one Sunday before church my grandmother took me by the hand into her room. Afraid I was being punished, I was surprised when she pinned a brooch on my sweater. She cupped my chin in her hand and told me it was her favorite pin and it matched my dress perfectly, so I needed to wear it. She spritzed me with her Shalimar perfume and off we went.  We spent a great deal of time with my grandparents when I was growing up.  I can’t recall much of what we did together in all those years. But I remember the day she trusted me with her brooch. The smell of Shalimar perfume still causes me to smile.

Each of these moments is preserved in my heart with joy and warmth. These are moments of love I remember from my past. These are the things I miss about old loves, lost loves. In all these years I’ve spent alone I sometimes wish I had someone to talk to about my day, or to help with chores. I pined for someone special to go with to a museum or the theatre. I often wondered what it would be like to plan a vacation with a partner. When I listen to my heart, though, the things I truly miss about being in a relationship are much more guileless.

I miss holding hands. The absence of this simple act is what most often breaks my heart. I would hold my partner’s hand in the car, in the grocery store, while eating dinner. My husband and I even fell asleep holding hands. There is a persistence in a hand grasped by another that I find comforting and reassuring in an unassuming way.

I miss the smell of shaving cream and cologne that lingers in the bathroom after he’s gotten ready for work or a night out. I remember sniffing my husband’s ties when he was away for work for a few days because they smelled like him. The right cologne instills a sense of power and sensitivity that is hard to resist. The enduring presence of a loved partner, even when they aren’t physically at hand, brings a completeness to the union.

I miss shopping for someone else. The feeling that comes from finding the perfect item for someone you love is immeasurable. That favorite book from his childhood that you find, autographed, in a used bookstore. Tickets to that game for him and his friends – the one you know he wants to go to but he never would because they play on your birthday. Coming home with his favorite takeout on a random Tuesday. The excitement that comes from discovering something so fitting for someone else is an arresting joy for me. Knowing someone so deeply that your daily activities are framed around understanding him. It’s tranquility.

I miss sitting next to someone, even if we’re doing separate activities. The proximity of someone you love is tremendously appealing. I miss two coffee cups in the sink. I miss deep conversations on long road trips. I miss cooking big or fancy meals. I miss spontaneous laughter over nothing. I miss sharing interests or movies or books that touched me, and having my eyes opened to something I never would have chosen on my own.

Yes, many of the things I miss can be found in my son or friends or other family. And I do. I love the way my son and I laugh over silly things. I get excited when my friend shares a new song with me. These are wonderful parts of my life that I embrace.

Some people find love in the grand expressions of a relationship. A surprise vacation to a foreign country or a lavish weekend at a posh hotel are ways to say ‘I love you.” I won’t dispute that. I will simply say that there are smaller ways in which I hear that same sentiment. Often, these small ways speak the loudest to me. These are the things I treasure most. These are the love memories I hold closest and with an eternal tenderness. I revel in the minutiae of love.

My wish for the world is that each of us finds the one who understands the way we love. They don’t need to match it. I’m afraid if I were to be with someone who got as lost in the incidentals as I do we’d be forever enamored with the little things and forget the rest of life. Find someone who recognizes and appreciates the way you love. The way we care for each other is unique. We deserve to be honored for who we are and what we have to give – big or little. Don’t hide the ways you find love. Don’t run from it. Listen to it and it will lead you to the right people.

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