By Rod Ceballos


Valentine’s day is coming! Valentine’s day is coming!


Run for the malls, empty that ATM, make those reservations at that restaurant she once said looked nice from outside. And get some flowers. Why? I have no idea, but apparently those colourful frail things that will shortly die represent love somehow.


And then Valentine’s day is over. You wined, you dined, laughed, cried, either had a cold goodnight kiss that tasted awfully like goodbye, or woke up sore but happy. Perhaps you did none of that and stayed home instead, alone and wondering what the fuss is all about. That’s ok, many of us partake in the madness without understanding it either. Valentine’s has always been suspect in its purpose; today  it seems to be  more about the chocolates, candles and brief orchestrated gestures rather than the long term living of love . That is because it’s actually all about romance. 


What? Aren’t they the same thing? Asks the young man preparing for his first Valentine’s Day date. No. They are not, my hormonally influenced friend.


Romance is love’s irresponsible, superficial cousin. It’s the charming one, good for a laugh, dashing and memorable as long as you don’t dig too deep. It never out stays its welcome because it never meant to stay too long. It may pop in when the moon is full and the stars bright, sneak up on you at sunset on the pier, and sway you onto the dance floor when that special tune comes up. It can get you dizzy after just one drink and makes idiotic choices seem quite astute: A naked midnight run into the St Kilda’s surf? Crazy! Or wait, it’s ‘crazy but romantic’ you say? Well then…


Differentiating between love and romance is easy: love is the one that stays. It’s less dashing, less charming, and may come with morning breath.”


And then romance leaves. You are now surrounded by bills, diapers and parents in law. Ambushed by extra work from the boss, planning a weekend getaway only to realize you have no free weekends left. You try catching a romantic comedy at the movies but there is no babysitter, so you end up watching The Walking Dead, chewing on burnt pop corn, sitting on Duplo blocks and developing a strange empathy with zombies.  You are both exhausted, the zombies are exhausted, but you all keep at it anyway.


So you smile, because at the end of the very long day, that is ‘love’.


Differentiating between love and romance is easy: love is the one that stays. It’s less dashing, less charming, and may come with morning breath. Love is sacrifice in every sense and scale; it’s what you willingly leave behind, and those pretty faces you consciously decide to not pursue. Love is knowing you are right but being willing to compromise anyway. Love is adoring Cold Chisel yet listening to  Savage Garden when you are both in the car… Fortunately, love is also someone willing to do all those things for you.


Ultimately love and romance are destined to be together: love as romance’s idealized yet misperceived goal, and romance as love’s much needed, albeit sporadic, respite. Some people mix them quite well, but most of us fumble them as we progress and regress in our relationships.    


If you are now at the start of a new relationship, you are probably in the throes of romance and every date may feel like Valentine’s Day. On the other hand, if love has already got you in its mysterious maze, you should welcome the chance to flirt with romance once more, if only for one night. So put aside the work, book a restaurant, and drop the kids off somewhere, anywhere. Why? Because Valentine’s Day is coming!


And don’t forget the flowers. 

Rod is the Northsider’s photography editor, occasional photographer and random writer of bits and pieces. His number one fan is his ten year old daughter, who thinks being published in Internet equals being famous. To see more of this work click here.

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