Walk Through a Cemetery Together
Somewhat sporadically, we find ourselves at the cemetery. It’s an old cemetery – at least by Oregon standards. It dates back to 1846. Some of the graves are so old that they appear just barely visible above the dirt and grass, a small piece of cement with carvings fading through time. I’d walked through here by myself before. Though it’s in the midst of the city, it’s quiet, and remarkably large. I’ve gotten lost walking along the paved and unpaved stretches of the land. Wondering how people lived so long and being slowly taken apart by all those that died so young. We’ve walked through here twice together, and I’ve noticed a difference in sharing the experience with someone I love. It stuns you back into the present. It reminds you that life is short. It reminds you that death comes, loss happens, and we aren’t the keepers of our own time. Though I would hardly consider a cemetery a romantic place (though some do) I do consider it a place that breeds romance. There are few things more romantic than realizing you are with someone that you couldn’t stand to lose.
Cook Something Completely New
I love to cook, and I have a few staples that I can put together without straining too many brain cells. A steak – cooked on high – three minutes per side. Macaroni and cheese cooked on the stove top, cheese melted until thick, baked at 350º with some chips on top for good luck. Chocolate chip cookies, always taken out a few minutes early to make a chewy texture. Jason has some of his standbys too. He’s the king of eggs in the house. He makes a mean tuna melt. And I wouldn’t touch salmon, not after tasting his silky, perfectly cooked coho. Sometimes it’s fun to cook something new with your significant other. Something you explore together. Awkwardly cutting unusual vegetables in the kitchen, experimenting with a new sauce, or trying to duplicate something you had at a restaurant on your first date. I love developing a list of recipes we have tried together – picked out together, shopped for together, curated together. It also reinforces other good habits: like sitting down for a meal, and eating healthy. Cooking can bring you together.
Read Your Childhood Favorites Aloud
When we first started dating Jason read me a childhood book of his. I won’t say which one, to preserve the sickly sweet memory. But it totally tore me up. Or, as I like to say, it broke my ovaries. I loved hearing a story that he grew up with through his own voice. I loved hearing him explain the characters and the plot and how it had affected him. Since then, of course, we’ve shared lots of other things about our past. Photographs from high school and earlier, songs that heavily influenced us growing up, our favorite trilogies as we battled the angst of unknowing. I love all of these earlier bits of him because they only further cement the man that I know. The backstory can provide so much context for the person you know and love now. All those earlier parts of them brought them here. And I find a lot of happiness in knowing what those things were. (And seeing their face light up when they talk about it.)
Refresh The Usual Suspects
There’s something to be said for those usual lists of keeping love alive. Communicate. Explore together. Grow together. Try new things. Experience pain and joy. It is another thing to be so present all of the time that you can remember all of these things that you know you know. That is why I wanted to share something we’ve been doing. I think other couples could benefit in the sweet feeling of remembering these lessons. A few months ago I picked up a book about love by Thich Nhat Hanh called How To Love. It’s a little baby of a book, each page filled with a different “mindful essential.” We’ve been reading one page every night before bed to think actively about the relationship we’re growing/sharing. Every time I finish reading one of these pages I can’t help but to think of the ways in which my partner does these things of mindfulness. In turn, I give myself a small reminder to make sure I am mindful.
Do you have any unusual love tips – or – do you have any typical love tips that you actively work within your relationship?