I once dated a taxicab driver for about 5 months.  I worked days, he worked nights and weekends. We would meet for lunch and/or dinner at my place, sometimes bounce some springs, and then he’d head off in to the night. 

I broke it off when I started to feel like his personal 7-11:  a place where he could get a quick bite, a few laughs, and some general affection (quick or otherwise). We never went out to eat – because going out to eat meant 2 more hours of him driving cab to replace the money spent.  He chipped in for the weekly groceries – and when we broke up he made sure to take half of the groceries with him.

I longed for romance, and I realized it just wasn’t part of his genetic make-up.  I don’t believe in yelling and arguing about these things, but we did have two rather serious conversations about it during the 5 months.  And then I realized it was better just to break it off as friends. I didn’t want to resent him for something that just wasn’t part of who he was, and I didn’t want him to resent me for trying to make him change.

Define romance,” said Rocker last night, after I told him this story. “Because if you ask 10 women to define romance, you will get 11 different answers.”

I thought about this for a bit before answering.

For me, romance is when someone shows you they care about you in a non-practical way.

It’s a noted effort to do something special for someone out of love and affection, rather than simply out of habit or obligation. 

When I did my internet radio show, I would often provide a list of 10 budget-friendly romantic gestures. Because romance doesn’t have to have a price tag attached to it.

I know one of my friends would find it romantic if her boyfriend would just ask her if she wanted a drink when he got himself one.  I was touched the first time a former boyfriend picked me up a pair of windshield wipers for my car when he was picking up some for himself.

But for me, romance is a silly card on my bedside table, a flower picked for me, a love note stuck in my jacket pocket.   A serenade in the middle of the grocery store, a slow dance barefoot in the kitchen.

And yes, there are ones that cost money too – and those should happen, even if only once or twice a year. An occasional reason to get dressed up for dinner or the local theater.  A surprise weekend getaway.  A gift certificate for a spa day or a mani/pedi.  Flowers at work. Chocolate. And yes, sometimes, jewelry.

But it doesn’t matter how much it costs if the sentiment behind it is not one of love. It’s not just what you do, it’s why you are doing it.  And your attitude towards doing it.  If you are doing it because you feel you have to – and I know it – then it all becomes bittersweet.

The poets most certainly say it better, but that’s my explanation for today.