Here we are (or I should say “were“)—Joe and I, obviously smitten with each other—at one of my High School formal dances in 1950. Back then ordinary dresses were called “frocks”, and formals were called “gowns”. Our life was romantic in the mid 20th Century, and our romance will always flourish. After 61 plus years of marriage and countless joys and challenges, we are still smitten with each other. And although currently my closet is void of actual formal gowns, it abounds in frocks which I love to wear.
Dressing with a flair for romance does not have to mean spending a lot of bucks (although it can). Nor does it even begin to include the “Hollywood Glammy” look, worn by today’s female “stars” with their body parts falling out of the garments. (In the 1940s and 50s, Hollywood gowns were truly glamorous. Whatever happened to good taste?)
To me, romantic dressing is simply a matter of what (the colors, styles, and accessories I enjoy) as well as how (with the confidence that I am doing the best I can with what God has given me). My mother’s classic advice will always ring in my ears: “Fix yourself up every day (regarding personal hygiene, arrangement of hair, facial cosmetics, a lovely perfume or cologne, and the wearing of apparel) as best as you can. Then just forget about yourself and have a good time!” Wise Mom!
Of course there have been times over the years of child raising, when the recipe for looking my best hit the fan. There were times of mucking out a sheep shed where I was less than cosmetically interesting. But hey Mom, I was still having a good time!
Which brings me to an important aspect of romantic living: the zest for living. For me, God’s Grace through faith in the Lord Jesus has augmented that joie de vivre which has been a common thread running through my family of origin and my parents’ and grandparents’ families as well. Somewhere back in the Scottish Highlands and the Swiss Alps there must have been some Campbells and Longeneckers who were having a good time. Maybe they were partially “high on life” because of their hilly or mountainous locales, but here I am—not tremendously higher than sea level, and still “having a good time”.
A zest for living the romantic life translates to daily happiness for me. Barring horrific circumstances (and the world is full of those!) happiness is a choice. My desire to live each day romantically, with a mind to providing a setting which nourishes my soul and that of others around me, is indeed a choice. But I cannot recall ever wanting to choose differently.
Creating beautiful and useful objects is a huge factor in my romantic lifestyle. I often wake up feeling less than physically fabulous. HOWEVER knowing that I have a garment in process on the knitting needles or a watercolor drying on the work table—or soap curing in the kitchen—serves better than cannon shot to get me out of bed, and almost as effectively as caffeine to sort me out—gimpy body notwithstanding.
Romance can be audible: from outdoor sounds—wind, rain, birds, insects, coyotes, etc. to the music of man’s God-given creativity. On a rainy afternoon I love to immerse my head and heart in arias and overtures from Verdi’s passionate operas. I frequently play romantic old tunes—“As Time Goes By”, “Deep Purple”, etc.—on my piano as well as favorite classics and the haunting ballads from PHANTOM OF THE OPERA and other 20th Century musicals.
Joe and I recently attended a fine production of LES MISERABLES at a local dinner theatre. Fantine’s solo, “I Dreamed a Dream” is among the most poignant vocal narratives I’ve ever experienced—a recital of a clandestine, heartbreaking love affair. The incredibly tender melody keeps rolling in my head. I play a simplified piano arrangement of it, while adding interpretive arpeggios and random chords. Most unforgettable music—whether jubilant, poignant, or just plain sad—will always contain something of the romance factor: expressing my love for God, for my country or a person—or some statement of the human condition, replete with a life-affirming quality of beauty.
Thus I celebrate romance. The word “romance” has meant many things to me over many years: the love which my husband and I have shared since 1950, a love for beauty to inspire the eyes and ears while stirring the soul—and an appreciation for the many aspects of life which add roundness, firmness, tenderness, strength of mind, zest for living, and depth of awareness.
These aspects of romance and thereby human LIFE, are enhanced and perfected by the knowledge that all good gifts—material and sensory as well as spiritual and eternal—come from the one and only Triune God. Praise Him!
Margaret L. Been, November 2014