We had just finished watching the Days of our LIves episode, or “the Hortons,” as my grandma called it. It wasn’t educational television in the traditional sense, but I certainly did learn a lot. During this particular episode, they used the word “romantic,” several times. My five or six year old brain wasn’t familiar. “What is romantic?” I asked my grandma. “Lots of things are romantic,” she said. “No, but what does it mean?” I continued. “You know when your heart feels all a flutter?” she asked. “Oh, jimbly…yes…” I said. “Sure,” she said, “jimbly…” “So Uncle Ron is romantic?” I asked. “Why do you say Uncle Ron?” “Well, yesterday, when I crawled inside the closet of the upstairs room with the loom inside, there were uniforms, and they were so crisp and beautiful, and something made me want to hug them, and you said they were Uncle Ron’s service uniforms and my heart felt funny inside the closet so…” “It’s not just people. You were feeling a different time and place. And that can be romantic. In the past, or the future even. I feel it when I turn your old clothes into quilts. It’s magic. It’s experience. It’s life. And that can be very romantic.”
I annoyingly spent the rest of the day picking up items like perfume bottles and canned pears. Overalls hanging on the wall. Photographs and rugs made by hand. “Is this romantic? What about this?”
When I think about the real magic of the day, it wasn’t in each of the items discovered, but in the time spent with my grandma. The time she answered yes to all of my questions, again and again, with patience and love. Pure romance.
So maybe you won’t find it surprising when I tell you that I think one of my most romantic paintings is the one of the Volkswagon sitting in this European street. Maybe it’s the color palette. The small route that will only allow a one-way passage — a love that knows there is no turning back, this is it. A calm that doesn’t judge how you got here, simply welcomes you in. The name of the piece is “Something in my heart told me to wait for you.”
I’d like to think that journey began at noon, in front of the television, with my grandma, on a farm just outside of Alexandria, Minnesota — and somehow, led by a trail of “yes” after “yes,” continued to the south of France. Even as I type the words, I can’t help but think, “Isn’t it romantic?!”