In a traditional Catholic grade school like mine, even love had its rules. Valentine’s Day was no exception. Ahem, that’s St. Valentine’s Day, which honors an ancient Roman martyr Valentinus, executed on Feb. 14.
In third grade, I had a slightly offbeat nun who seemed to revel in the idea of having a party to celebrate the martyr. What a boon! When she asked for volunteers, my hand shot up in a frisson of excitement, committing my mother to baking a cake for the party.
Time passed. I forgot. The day before the party the nun reminded us about our commitments. I ran home with the news. My mother was flustered, having made other plans that evening. Still, she rose early on the day and baked the cake. We all woke to the smell of something baking.
I found my mother standing over a lopsided cake that had been hastily juddered out of the oven. Slathered with buttercream frosting, it was a ski slope. Eyeing her dilemma, she muttered for my brothers and me to get ourselves ready for school. Returning to the kitchen, I found her staring out the window, the cake an abandoned flop. “Mom?” She turned and walked to the cake. Holding the cone of red frosting aloft, her arms made looping motions. “There,” she said. “That’ll have to do.” I peered up and saw the message: I fell for you.
Sometimes, our most creative solutions come when we walk away from the problem. Set it down. Distract our minds long enough for the right spark to come to us. In that spirit, I gathered a list of not so kissy-huggy love messages from great authors. To all the brilliant, offbeat, creatives out there in need of inspiration, take heart. This is my valentine to you. Love you all!
1. “We love the things we love for what they are.” Robert Frost
2. “Love loves to love love.” James Joyce
3. “In love there are two things—bodies and words.” Joyce Carol Oates
4. “Love is the voice under all silences, the hope which has no opposite in fear; the strength so strong mere force is feebleness: the truth more first than sun, more last than star.”e.e. cummings
5. “Love is the emblem of eternity; it confounds all notion of time; effaces all memory of a beginning, all fear of an end.” Madame De Stael
6. “Love is the answer to everything. It’s the only reason to do anything. If you don’t write stories you love, you’ll never make it. If you don’t write stories that other people love, you’ll never make it.” Ray Bradbury
7. “To get the full value of a joy you must have somebody to divide it with.” Mark Twain
8. “There is no remedy for love, but to love more.” Henry David Thoreau
9. “Love does not begin and end the way we seem to think it does. Love is a battle, love is a war; love is a growing up.” James Baldwin
10. “Everything I ever let go of has claw marks on it.” David Foster Wallace