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Sheer romance

A couple of years ago I wrote a column about how Sarasota was wooing me. I wrote about falling in love with a city — how a smart city seduces you little by little with equally little unexpected moments of charm and captivation.

I think I’m in a full-on relationship with the city now — I love her … I get disappointed in her … I complain … but mostly, lately, I just get a groove on because of her. Here are just a few reasons why — still relevant, from that earlier column:

I think I’m being wooed.

And, for the first time in my life, I might be falling in love.

I thought I was in love once – in Boston. But I think now, that although I l may have loved, I wasn’t in love; and there’s a big difference.

The heart is won in little ways, isn’t it? The way she reaches for your hand when you’re out in a crowd; the way he fixes the leaking faucet without being asked. When she brings supper to your office because you’re working late, or when he calls at 3 am because he can’t make it through the night without hearing your voice.

It’s never the expensive dinners, the jewelry, the compliments, or even the anticipation of really great sex that make you fall in love. (Okay, maybe the last one makes the falling a little more luscious, but on its own, it doesn’t make you fall.)

Falling in love is about what lies beneath – it’s about where the heart beats.

Falling in love requires a little bit of mystery – the slow and unpredictable reveal, and a whole lot of generosity – the kind money can’t buy.

It’s the same thing with a city. It’s never about the hipster scene, the trendy tapas bar, or the blockbuster season line-up for the culture vultures. It’s about how a city makes you feel, day in and day out, as you go about your life.

This summer, Sarasota’s been romancing me big time with small treasures, and I have to admit, I’m falling. Hard.

This city’s got plenty of natural mystery – and doesn’t mind sharing. She’s got an uncanny knack for revealing her little gems at just those moments when you least expect it and when your heart needs it most.

Like last Wednesday: a full Sturgeon Moon. Hanging over the city like benevolence itself. I couldn’t sleep for staring. It was still there at 6 a.m., sumptuous and sated from its night out on the town.

Monday night: heart-rending hues of violet and pink layered across the sunset sky; poignancy personified.

Saturday night, 8 pm: riding my bike across the Siesta Drive drawbridge; looking up, an O’Hare-ful skyway of waterfowl headed for their evening beds. Looking down, a squadron of pelicans skimming the surface of the water. So low and sure. Elegance in flight.

A pair of dolphin fins rising and lowering in ancient unison as they moved through the bay.

And as I cycled through the park at the bottom of the bridge — a funny change to the water’s surface, a smoothing-out, and then the bulbous heads bobbing to the surface. Gelatinous masses – a trio of magical manatees — lolling about in the water like slightly thinner Michelin tire-men.

That’s what happens when you fall in love – whether with a person or with a city — mysteries and wonders are revealed serendipitously. The challenge is to see, really see, what’s usually right in front of our eyes.

Looking back, I can see my years in Boston were a little like having a “bad-boy” fling. The Reality Chick in me had a thing for the city’s distinctive brand of in-your-face vérité, and for a while I thought that kind of raw experience was what love was all about.

But the city could never open up its heart and let me in. After a while I realized, that’s not mystery; that’s just boring.

And as old as it is, Boston has never really grown beyond its adolescence. Its heartbeat has a “gimmee, gimmee, mine, mine” echo that eventually wore thin.

So, I loved, but I wasn’t in love. And there’s a big difference.
Sarasota, in spite of the fact that I’d dissed it for so long as being “too slow” for me, welcomed me back with an openness of heart I’m not sure I deserved, but for which I’m very grateful.

So generous with her gifts, she’s patiently teaching me the whys and wherefores of not just falling in love – but staying there. So willing to share the magic of her natural wonders, she’s showing me what real love looks like.

Sarasota is nestling her way into my heart, enlarging it with something that feels like a shy but sure affection.

And if that’s not real romance, I don’t know what is.

Posted on January 11th, 2009Comments RSS Feed
2 Responses to Sheer romance
  1. You do have a way with words….thank you for such a poignant description of the town I “love”!

  2. thanks to you … for reading!! 😉 am glad it hit home.


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