Saturday, February 8, 2014

Thoughts of love

Well, now, if little by little you stop loving me, shall I stop loving you little by little?

A friend came to see me yesterday. He was joined by his wife of six years, and they were still obviously in love.

"We are celebrating six years of marriage," he said.

"Are you feeling an itch?" I ungraciously asked. "Seven comes after six."

"No, we are still quite happy," he smartly replied and clasped her hand. And there was truth in what he said, for one could see it in their eyes, and in the gentle grip of their hands.

One takes a chance when speaking to someone for the first time. Later, thinking better of myself, I went up to the happy couple. They had lingered about, going to one corner of the room, then another, always cooing and chatting together like two turtle doves in spring. I explained to the wife that my friend always spoke lovingly about her.

It is better to speak one's mind than to stay silent. One speaks, however, at the risk of embarrassing oneself. Then again, it is nice to call to someone's attention how loving and caring they are.

When does marriage become old-hat? When is the fire of love-making gone, replaced by a something else, first, a joint endeavor to raise the kids, then, perhaps, a passion for a shared life of friends and what not? Finally, a sense of commitment, having stuck it out this long, why not see the process to the end.

Ernest Hemingway married four times and divorced three. He took his own life in Ketcham, Idaho in 1961.

Ernest, Hadley, and Bumby in happy times; image, JFK library

His first marriage was to Hadley Richardson. They married in 1921 and divorced six years later. Ernest had by then turned his affections to another woman. Ernest and Hadley shared a tiny flat in Paris, three flights up, in "the poorest of addresses." Somehow, little by little they stopped loving each other. In time, these six years would become the subject of the posthumous, A Moveable Feast.

Later in life, trying to explain why he didn't kiss Hadley at the train station for the last time, he said,

"I didn't want to kiss you goodbye — that was the trouble — I wanted to kiss you good night — and there's a lot of difference.”

Such a lovely thought, but it would have been lovelier, had it been said at the time.

No comments:

Post a Comment