When I was growing up my grandfather would take me and my sister to church every Sunday. Granted, he would then take us to the newsagents to buy comics and sweets, then back to my grandparents’ house for a hefty lunch like only Mediterranean grandmothers can make, and old movies on television for the rest of the day. The incentive wasn’t necessarily in the prayer.
One morning in church the priest seemed to elevate beyond the hellfire and brimstone and begun what sounded in my head as poetry, akin to my beloved Shakespeare, the only man I felt understood me (I was practically begging to be bullied, of this I am aware).
“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal….”
You know the rest. Love is patient, love is kind. Possibly one of the most overused and overwrought passages in the Bible. Yet to an eight year old boy who had sat through booming voices proclaiming doom, believing it to be entirely real, this was something else entirely. Sunlight itself may have come through the stained glass.
My grandfather leaned over and whispered into my ear, he was smiling.
“Your parents used this at their wedding”.
The chorus of angels trumpeted between my headspace.
I had never thought of my parents through any capacity of romance. They were simply there as a unit that looked after me, and if there was any love it was for my own heart, and my sister’s. After my revelation at church, I asked everyone and anyone close to my parents about how they had met. For some strange reason, I never thought to ask my parents themselves.
Through family gossip, I weaved a legend around how they had met and fallen in love, which probably cemented my idea of romance until this day. My mother was a good Catholic girl taking schoolkids to holiday camp in Tangiers, until my father rolled up with his long hair and Harley to steal her heart on burning rubber. My mother asked my father’s father if she could go for a motorbike ride and he told her to keep away from his son, he was nothing but trouble (the same man who wisftully remembered my parents wedding reading, love prevailed after all). She rode away into the starry Moroccan night with him, and married in lace and lilies.
A little older, a little more cynical, a little less obsessed with my mother’s wedding dress (from which blossomed a love for fashion, another story) I can still look at my parents and see everything I want from a relationship. The amount of time my grandparents were married for is staggering and practically impossible now (sixty years, I’d need a husband yesterday) but my parents have been together for over thirty and they still grow strong.
I understand the need for positive representations of LGBT relationships in media, but I feel like sometimes there is a fight to see yourself exactly as yourself, when really an aspect and intention can be found anywhere. I have grown to understand there is beauty in the Bible even if I don’t believe the Earth was made in six days and someone had to die so that we could all live. I have also grown to understand that love is love is love and it is everywhere. Had you told me as a teenager the single greatest inspiration for what I want in a nurturing long-lasting relationship is my parents I would have been mortified. There’s less to fear now, less to prove and more to embrace.
I can’t think of two people who are better friends. Despite any daily squabbles, I see a relationship that has withstood anything and everything life has thrown at them. I always find it strange how so many fall at the first hurdle. I’m not saying you have to put up with anything less than you deserve, but to balk because someone doesn’t jump when you want them to, isn’t quite the Channing Tatum you had in your mind, or doesn’t say nice things about your shoes means you might keep searching for love forever.
Roses are lovely, but they wither. What about the strong foundations? The roots my parents grew have got them through illness, accidents, distances and deaths. They remind me to be a little less flighty sometimes, to work on my humility and my patience. There is no greater love than giving someone a place to call home, no matter what.