It begins at the movie theatre where boy meets girl and boy is smitten at first sight. He asks her name and where she lives but when the movie ends she disappears into the night.
He can’t get her out of his mind. She’s made an indelible impression and he’s determined to find her again. He goes to the public phone box to search the phone book. Unfortunately her surname is Smith. He wades through page after page after page, not once, not twice but three times. With his frustration and desperation levels rising rapidly he begins again and this time with microscopic accuracy. Every page he doesn’t find her, he tears out and soon the box is littered with discarded Smiths lying helplessly on the floor.
On the very last page he finds her.
There was no doubting his commitment or his love. Once when she went on holidays to the Blue Mountains, he rode his pushbike, the sort without gears, the 124kms up the steep mountain passes just so they could spend time together.
They longed to get married but it was the middle of the Great Depression and there were few jobs and even less money. He was determined to buy her an engagement ring and earn enough to pay for a wedding so he headed to Central Western NSW to the little wheat belt town of Caragabal and got a job on the railways. It was mid summer, the heat intense, but he refused to give up until he had saved what they needed.
This story came back to me last week when I heard about a man texting the woman he had been dating for some time, to break off the relationship saying it just wasn’t working for him.
She was absolutely devastated and although it was best she discovered the caliber of the man sooner rather than later, it isn’t the first time I’ve heard about this happening.
Is this what love has been reduced to in a digital age? Are online dating, speed dating and social media chipping away at the very essence of love, of loyalty, commitment and perseverance? Is love becoming easy and dispensable? And is communication being reduced to a handful of letters on a screen rather than the tough face to face discussions that build strong foundations for a relationship?
My parent’s love was tested in the furnace of adversity. It was neither easy or dispensable but persevering and stronger for the struggle. And it stood by them in the hardships ahead, ones they couldn’t have contemplated including the loss of a child.
Love, in all its complexities is the most powerful force in the universe but it comes at a price … the cost of self-sacrifice … the cost of giving up ourselves for another.