As a longtime romance reader and lover of romantic comedies, for a long time I thought love, especially romantic love, was about big gestures. About Richard Gere climbing up the fire escape to Julia Roberts at the end of Pretty Woman. About Orlando papering the forest of Arden with love poems for Rosalind in As You Like It. About dancing and acrobats and lederhosen in Central Park in Enchanted.
But I have grown to realize it is not that.
Love is when we were doing a recycling drive at school and my mother asked the man in charge of the vending machines to save all the bottle caps for me.
Love is when J.C. went out in single-digit temperatures to get me soup to nurse my cold.
Love is when my friend Tammy texts me just to tell me to have a nice day.
Love is when I fall asleep on the couch and J.C. tries to wake me up once, and then just brings me a quilt and lets me sleep.
J.C. himself actually has a great way to describe this. He calls it “silent love”. Putting away the laundry when it’s not your turn, leaving the last bite of dessert, picking up dinner when it’s not fast-food night, changing the channel away from the thing you want to watch. And these are things that do not have to come from your partner – they can come from family or friends or anyone at all who loves you.
And while I’ve been lucky enough to have some grand gestures of love thrown at me in my time, those little examples of silent love are my favorites. String quartets and dancing ConEd workers (it’s in the video, just go with it) doves and roses are wonderful, but something about seeing that J.C. has taken the garbage out when I had promised I would gives me a feeling of exhausted gratitude and a rush of emotion far deeper than any of those “romantic” ideals.
What says silent love to you?