Weekend assignment #202 (6) – Love Story

Weekend Assignment #201: Valentine’s Day is coming! Tell us a love story. It can be the story of you and your beloved, someone else you know, that celebrity couple you find intriguing, a quick recap of a comedy or tragedy from Shakespeare, Rob Reiner or whomever (with attribution, of course), or a story you make up yourself. All I ask is that it be a tale of love that appeals to you for one reason or another.

Extra Credit: Have you ever been extravagantly, tragically in love? Would you want to be?

Every love story unfolds in its own way, and there are elements of the unfolding that really only matter – or are of interest – to the protagonists. They’re the only ones who truly know the story, with all its drama and comedy – or, in some cases, the lack of it. No one else can tell it for them, but many people might be willing to take a shot at it based on what they see. Their interpretations may be spot-on, or completely wrong. But nearly every love story has some universal elements.

One element of most love stories that usually has general-audience interest is the prelude – the meeting. Were the couple introduced by friends? Did they go to school or work together? Did they get into a conversation in a checkout line somewhere? Did they meet when one’s car ran into the other’s? I’ve told the “meeting” part of one of my own favorite love stories here, although I left out the part where we almost met in Target one day before our official first date. I know a few other good ones, though. One couple met through a mutual friend who had actually dated the guy for awhile several years earlier; she stopped seeing hin because she actually liked his mother better, but they remained friends, and she often mentioned him to the girl friend that she introduced him to later. One couple met over the phone through business. I’ve known a few couples who met during college. Other than my own, my favorite “meet” is the couple who were introduced at a wedding.

Not every love story leads to a wedding story, but when they do, that’s usually another chapter of general interest. That part normally opens with a proposal story. The couple that met through the mutual friend got engaged the day after that friend’s wedding; they had gone out a few times, intermittently, but hadn’t seen each other for awhile until they met up again at the reception, and he proposed that night. Her response: “Call me tomorrow when you’re sober and ask me again.” He did, she accepted, and their own wedding took place the following June. Another June wedding came out of a conversation between a couple who’d been seeing each other for just a few weeks; when he mentioned their children, she suggested that they might talk about marriage first, and he replied, “Oh, yeah. Want to get married?” Two proposal stories that I really like were set near water; one on Stearns Wharf in Santa Barbara, and one on the Golden Gate Bridge. In both cases, if the answer had come back “wrong,” someone could have gone over the side.

As I get older, highly dramatic, overwrought love stories have less appeal for me. Stories that involve leaving or hurting others in order for the couple to be together really don’t appeal to me; I’m sure that’s colored by personal experience, but I prefer love stories where the couple in question are free to be together, or where the obstacles involved don’t include other relationships they’re already in. I’m more drawn to the everyday unfolding – the intimate details that, by definition, are only fully known to those who participate in them (or shared via a narrator). There’s not much plot in that sort of story, though; it’s more character-based, which can make it more challenging to tell – and to follow, since it may be pretty slow-paced at times. This sort of love story is part of a life, not something that takes over your life.

I’m not sure an entry like this is exactly what Karen’s looking for in this assignment, but it’s what came to me. I don’t read romances, and I’m not sure how to write a love story in that vein that anyone else would find interesting – it’s not the kind of love story that really appeals to me much these days. But I am drawn to the true-life love stories that others choose to share, and I’ve lived a couple of my own.

I’m honestly drawn more to love stories in song rather than more typical forms like books or movies, and this song illustrates the sort of love story that speaks to me. If we hadn’t chosen a Clint Black song for the first dance at my second wedding fairly quickly, Bruce Springsteen’s “If I Should Fall Behind” would have been one of my suggestions.

We said we’d walk together baby come what may
That come the twilight should we lose our way
If as we’re walking a hand should slip free
I’ll wait for you
And should I fall behind
Wait for me

We swore we’d travel darlin’ side by side
We’d help each other stay in stride
But each lover’s steps fall so differently
But I’ll wait for you
And if I should fall behind
Wait for me

Now everyone dreams of a love lasting and true
But you and I know what this world can do
So let’s make our steps clear that the other may see
And I’ll wait for you
If I should fall behind
Wait for me

Now there’s a beautiful river in the valley ahead
There ‘neath the oak’s bough soon we will be wed
Should we lose each other in the shadow of the evening trees
I’ll wait for you
And should I fall behind
Wait for me
Darlin’ I’ll wait for you
Should I fall behind
Wait for me

Happy Valentine’s Day. I hope you’ve lived, or are living, a love story.

The Weekend Assignment is posted each Friday at Outpost Mâvarin; a roundup of responses goes up the following Thursday, so if you’d like to join in, you’ve still got some time!

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  1. I have been extravagantly, and at the time tragically, in love. I look back on those days now and marvel at the high pitch of emotion at which I led my life.

    I’m grateful I had that experience. It came to me relatively late in life (in my thirties) and I was glad to discover that the love of poetry and songs and stories was a real thing, not just stuff made up by writers!

    Happy Valentine’s Day!

  2. Working Girl – I found that high pitch of emotion exhausting myself, Karen – but an experience worth having once, at least. I prefer the steadier way it’s happened this time around, though. 🙂

  3. Karen – This assignment wasn’t an easy one for me, and it did go in a strange direction, but I’m glad you liked it.

    Oh, and the quote you used in your results post – the “call me back tomorrow when you’re sober…” proposal story? Those were my parents.

  4. I’m glad I read your comment to the comments. Your parents have a great proposal story. Your commentary wasn’t expected in light of the subject, but I actually agree with it. It’s true, the older I get the “highly dramatic” romances are a bit ho-hum. What I really want to know is what really did happen in the so-called “happily ever after” stage. I love your writing, may I put your blog as a link on mine?

  5. Kiva – My sister and I both love our parents’ proposal story. My mom was smart to be cautious. 🙂

    I really didn’t know how to address the subject, especially since I’d recently written a post about how my husband and I got together and didn’t want to recycle so soon. But I’m glad my unorthodox approach has gone over well with people.

    Thank you for the compliment, and I’d be very happy for you to link to my blog on Eclectic Granny!