In Search of Love

In the spirit of Valentines Day I went looking for love. Not for myself, because my love is several thousand miles away, rather, I was looking for signs of love.

As I set out on my walk towards town I asked myself: "Is Valentines Day just a commercial holiday?" It seems to me that it could look as such if one were skeptical. But I was looking for signs of love as a product of commercialism. My notion of love as encouraged by Hallmarkā„¢ is flowery cards with hearts and a box of sugar. But I was curious to see what I could find in the Italian culture that would resemble (or be different from) the American culture.

The first sign of love I saw was not necessarily related to Santo Valentino...

...but it was a sign of love, and it is found in many places around the world in the exact same way. Curious, I thought.

My search led me to the center of town. The shopping district should be full of commercial love. Since my investigation started as a question about the influence of commercialism on culture, I figured that was a good place to go looking.

As I walked I had my 'Valentine Filter' on.

I registered any symbol (deliberate or not) that spoke of love or showed any sign of the holiday.

It is also curious that the color red takes on a different meaning during this day, where as tomorrow everyone will be sick of it, just as I feel about decorations the day after Christmas.

If nothing else, Valentines Day is a day that you can, with honor, show your love to your lover in public.

If I was an Italian teenager I would have thought that I had found love while I was waiting in line with many others to get into the bathroom at the cafe' in Giardini Margaherita.

That instant, that experience, that brief moment in time, reminded me of something that Duane Michals wrote:

THE CAMERA'S CARESS Something happened when I took your picture. I became enchanted by the sight of you, standing there, perfect in that gentle light. I took the photograph over and over, again and again, compulsively, knowing that when I stopped and set the camera down, the moment would be lost, as the dream dies when one awakens, and I could not bear to let it go.

It was a tender moment. A time that I will always remember. I did not want to make love to her, but I felt a love for her. Her innocence, her youth, her naive beauty, her gentle stance, the soft light defining her beautiful form. Her 'being' touched me in a way that I can not describe, only feel. It seemed like hours passed as we awaited. Our eyes met only once for a brief embarrassing moment. In a certain way I wanted that moment to last forever. But I knew that it would not and could not and should not.

This brief period of time allowed me to realize that each moment in time is unique, and the ability to appreciate that moment, is perhaps one of the greatest things one can ever do.

Later as I was walking I noticed a group of elderly woman sitting around a table in a dark cafe' chattering all at once, as many Italians do. I went in to have my usual expresso and listened to them. There was a tone to the chattering that seemed to be, although I could not understand anything (not because of my lack of Italian language skills)(but because they were all talking fast and simultaneously) but the tone seemed to be of talking about things that they perhaps should not be talking about in public. I listened, and smiled to myself. I sat up and looked through the display bottles at them. I had this feeling they were talking about past loves. The ones they have thought about for years or decades. I could not resist recording the moment. I stood up, turned off my flash and just as I made the exposure they heard my camera go off and in unison they all looked at me as their faces grew red. We exchanged smiles, I finished my expresso, and left.

As I walked I wondered if, just if, perhaps I reminded them of loves gone by. Or perhaps I became a love in their mind as they would love a grandson?

Yes, I would say that I found love today!