I'm in the centre of the city on a cold Winter night. It's the eve of Valentine's day here in the UK. Manchester, a vibrant, exciting city lies all around me. I love coming here. High up on the 7th floor of the Sachas with the windows open I can hear the sound of the traffic, the noise of the street, the Metrolink trams and the wail of siren someplace far off. It's the sound of life, of humanity. It's constant, like the ebb and flow of a great unstoppable tide. Looking out I can see lights on in the buildings, offices, bars and restaurants and the couples out walking through Piccadilly. Romantic evening? It depends on your viewpoint, where you're bound, who you're with....I think. To me the city is magic and romantic but then it always has been, don't ask me to explain why. I'm not sure I really know; a bit like my views on romance really.
When I was a pre-schooler my best friend was another girl who lived across the way. Our Moms knew each other. We were always in and out of each other's homes. I remember Valentine's Day and crafting Valentine gifts out of red card, foil, fabric and cut up paper doilies. Our Moms made cards for our fathers, we made cards for each other. It must have been so cute. In those days as far as I was concerned liking and loving were much the same thing. Trying to analyze these things from a grown up perspective is always going to be guesswork. As a child you feel, period. As an adult you rationalize, try to interpret and understand. My feelings for other girls were so often envy or admiration. Feeling like a girl but not looking like one, those emotions tend to get misinterpreted as 'love'. When we exchanged cards our mother's made us kiss on the cheek. It made a sweet photograph I suppose. I just couldn't associate any of this with romance.
Romance is one of those concepts, like love relationships, with with which I've struggled throughout my life. I spoke in my last blog post about finding sex and love to be poles apart. It's not surprising. Sex is confusing when you end up with anatomy that doesn't seem to belong to you. Throw in sex hormones and the whole thing gets hopelessly out of hand. It seems to take on a life of its own. No girl should have to struggle through life with stuff like that...it just seemed cruel.
Sex too, I've spoken of in previous blog. Without love or romance, sex is a massive high without a great deal to sustain it. I think that for some, romance is intense love with the sexual element played down. For the fortunate, romance seems to consist of deep longing and intimacy with tender and loving sex included but not at the very top of the list. For me, looking back, the 'romantic' moments are surprisingly made up of other more disparate memories. Like the Valentines cards we made as kids, they have been clipped trimmed and pasted from unlikely sources: There was a holiday in my late teens with a deeply adored male friend who had no idea that I was in love with him; the wonder that he agreed to come along at all, the agony and unexpected pleasure of having him all to myself for almost a fortnight. I found romance in pivotal moments; the euphoria of hearing applause for the first time and knowing people liked what I did; the thrill of being on my own and independent at last in this city, the thrill of dancing as a woman for the first time with a guy who held me so close, the delightful shock of being told by a man that he found me attractive; being kissed by a guy on the mouth, having the same guy fondle and stroke my hair.....
I understand that these little things would not seem so deeply romantic to others. For some people they seem to happen all the time. To me, they have been rare. I wonder that they ever happened at all. I was born and raised male and things like these are special, particularly when they feel genuine and nice. They make me want to cry in relief at the idea that I have the teensy weensy chance of happiness as a woman. None of the experiences described ever led to anything lasting or permanent. Indeed, some of them were bittersweet moments that could never possibly last. What they had in common was someone spontaneously going out of their way to do something special for me. I hope that there was romance in the way that I responded with a smile to all of them; it takes two to make the magic.
These then are my 'romantic moments'. Brief times that live on happily forever in memory. I'd like to think that there are at least a few others out there who feel the same. This Valentine's Day maybe we should all do something special and unexpected for someone; something romantic magical and wonderful, even if only for a minute or two.
Hugs, Robyn-Jane xox