An atypical (for this arena) area of inquiry.
(Note: This post was written before I departed for Oxford, although it was published after I got back. Sorry about the temporal whiplash. Feeling excessively jumpy, I filled the time writing stuff beyond what was practically necessary. Otherwise, I’d be hugging myself going, “What if I hate it?”) (Possible code for "What if they hate me?")
“Aspects of Love.” (Accompanied by an anticipatory sigh.)
Love expresses itself in various fashions.
All of which are better than hate.
That may be the most definitive statement in these proceedings. Everything else, I’m just guessing.
Can you tell I’m uncomfortable with this subject?
We know this long-married couple who totally adore each other. You can tell how viscerally connected they are by this expository anecdote.
The three of us go of the movies. As I head towards the theater our movie is screening in, I suddenly notice I am walking alone. I turn back, and there are my friends, standing at the concession stand, where they will temporarily part, one remaining to buy popcorn, the other, accompanying me into the theater.
The parting kiss they exchange for a separation that will last less than three minutes was the kind you see in movies when someone’s shipping out for “The Front.”
What could possibly go wrong between the concession stand and “Theater One”? (God forbid, it was “Theater Seven.”) I know we have earthquakes. But how likely is one to cleave the lobby?
Okay, so that’s them. And they’re delightful, and charming and demonstrative. Two of which I wholeheartedly admire. The third? Do what you want but don’t make me watch.
There are otherways to say “I love you.”
Here is definitely one of them.
I drove my wife to the airport three times in nine days.
If that isn't love, what is?
Personally, I don’t care who drives me to the airport or picks me up when I return. I am just fine with a shuttling professional, paid for their services. We talk, exchange biographical backgrounds, I am dropped off, and we never see each other again. Sure, it’s impersonal. It’s a cab ride. It’s supposed to be.
Some people – one in my immediate family – read emotional import into their mode of traveling to the airport. It’s like this meaningful ritual. I do not hear, “Nobody loves me. They refuse to drive me to the dentist.” But this “passage” is different. For those in this category, a cab to the airport means, “I am totally alone.”
Here’s the problem.
Driving at the easiestof times is difficult for me. As mentioned before, my personalized bumper, if I had one, would read, “I Brake for Shadows.”
As a congenital pessimist, I see every intersection as an opportunity for someone to “run” a red light or a stop sign and slam into me, and then I’m a goner. That’s why I slow down at every intersection, irritating my spouse, and anyone with the misfortune of driving behind me. It’s not my fault I do that. Blame the people who “run” things.
Here’s the perplexing conundrum. I am an uncomfortable driver, and here’s a woman for whom being personally driven to the airport says, “I care” more than flowers on her birthday, and the Los Angeles airport is lunatic traffic on steroids.
They’re coming from every direction. Buses. Taxis. Spouses, equally unwilling to risk their relationships by saying, “Why don’t you take an Uber?”
Chaos. Horns blaring. It’s like “Bumper Cars”, with actual vehicles. Augmented by the pressure of “Departure Times”, hurrying traffic personnel and the daunting awareness of extended suspension in mid-air.
Basketball announcer Chick Hearn coined the term “Nervous Time”, applied it to tight games, coming down to the wire. I apply it to driving my wife to the airport. Where – who knows? – I could be coming down to the wire and not know it.
If only she saw “love and devotion” in a generously provided chauffered limousine.
I actually only do half the driving. She drives us both there. And I drive back, alone. (Or, for “pick-ups”, I drive there alone, and she drives us both back.)
Still, the airport “driving alone” part is just terrifying. There are too many places to look. Miss one, and you’re playing “Who’s your insurer?” with a stranger. The last time I dropped her off, I was so anxious, I started away with the car door still open.
Topping it off, the “Exit” signs are extremely confusing. Especially if you can’t read them.
I get home, and I immediately lie down.
The “Kissing Couple”, of course, never experiences this problem.
They go everywhere together.
Besides, both of them can drive.
That’s the thing – he concludes, groveling for sympathy.
You get no credit for doing something everyone else finds easy.
I earned a pat on the back for driving my wife to the airport three times in nine days.
But I got it from me.
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