Shopping For Love

Shopping for Love.

Paul Manchester

Is love an item I put on a list
With pasta, bananas, and wine?
Can something so dear hide with pretzels and beer –
just “LOVE –  on sale for $9.99”
Would I find it with apples, or condoms, or fish,
with spices for some sort of rare foreign dish?
With TicTacs and tabloids while standing in line?
Will it be at check-out with no time to dine?

A something for which I must actively shop?
Or something I’ll stumble upon?
When out and about will I suddenly stop –
will I see it before it is gone?
Is it out in the open or hidden away?
Will I find it with words or with nothing to say
to the stock boy in aisle 21?

Just when will this shopping ever be done?

Perhaps I should cross love off of my list?
I can’t seem to find it in stock.
I might live just as long… without being kissed.
Could early death merely be talk?
But if shorter life in those studies is real
and someone who lives everyday with love’s meal
lives longer than I, then I must confess
that shopping for love need have some success.

Is love fragile like eggs, or fattening like cake?
Will it melt like ice cream, or perish like steak
if I don’t rush it home, will it quickly go bad?
Will it carry diseases that make me go mad?
Will it stay fresh if kept in the cold?
If I add warmth, will it grow mold?
Or with lots of directions and very small print,
will I find that it’s ruined without sprigs of mint.
Or canned and safe till I open the seal
with only 3 days to exist as a meal.

If I find something like, should I just get it?
Perhaps what I want is not to be found,
and Love can’t be bought by cash, check or credit.
Perhaps I should settle for Lust by the pound?

Yet, ‘tis not what I crave as I look at the clock,
I’ll push my cart forward and hope it’s in stock.
With my heart in my cart and one wheel in denial
I’m still in the store… I just need the aisle.

December 2008

When I was in elementary school, February brought rain, candy hearts, and those little paper valentine’s cards. I remember that everyone gave a valentine to all the other kids in one’s class. By the end of the day, I came home with quite a stack of those cute little cards that we punched out of large paper books. Or sometimes they’d come in little boxes. At least that’s how I remember it… everyone got a valentine so that no one would feel left out.

I still love the creativity of those little cards. There was a bit of competition to see who could find the funniest cards. As kids we didn’t recognize the dysfunction that was presented to us as love. We were told that romance is something that we can’t live without.

We all had this underlying assumption that someday we’d find our valentine and our happy-ever-after. Part of our programming. Along with songs on the radio, every TV show, most books, every movie, we learned that our life would be complete on that big day. The fateful day that we’d see that person on the other side of the room and we’d know! That would be the person that we’d spend our happy-ever-after with. Naturally it went without saying that this person would be of the opposite gender.

So the months passed, the years passed… and some of us figured out that the object of our affection might be someone of the same gender – someone who our parents might not expect or be happy with. But we dealt with that eventually. We went out on dates. We met strings of lovely people… but the lightning strike never quite happened. The click. The twitterpation that leads to something beyond twitterpation.

Maybe we’ve had short relationships that never lasted. But ultimately we all have to discover – whether in a relationship or out, that we need to be our own valentine. Happy-Ever-After is something we choose for ourselves on a daily basis. Being attached does not guarantee happiness. Yes, of course it is a beautiful thing to connect. And it is a beautiful thing to particularly connect to one special person. But our lives are surrounded with wonderful people if we choose to see them. And I have to remember that like my child self, I can metaphorically hand out valentines to all the people in my life and let them know that they are valued. Love is something that we can give and receive freely.

Happily Ever After has to be crafted, like any art project. Happiness can’t depend on that which is external. We have the ability to work with what we’ve got, to make it work for us. I believe happiness begins in loving what IS. Not being complacent, but in being content. Don’t buy into society saying that you have to be coupled to be happy. It is just not not true.

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