Monday, February 18, 2013

Sense Memory

On Valentines Day, my love made me lobster and many kinds of crunchy vegetables, there were also three kinds of caviar and lots of wine. I walked into our home after work, red tulips in my arms, and found him concentrating in our kitchen, a labor of love, for me. Then last night, when I arrived home in the deep of night, a frigid wind whipping the city, pedestrians scurrying to escape its sting, he was there, parked two cars in front of where the bus from D.C. came in, waiting. It had been a long day, emotionally wrought, and when I saw his so familiar silhouette in our old brown jeep, I was immediately lifted. I wanted to rush over and shower him with kisses. He had brought me rice crackers to tide me over till we got home. Sitting beside my aunt's hospital bed earlier I had forgotten to eat all day, and traveling back on the overheated bus I had begun to feel dizzy.

I wanted to save this letter John Steinbeck wrote to his son Thom about falling in love. I found it over at dkb's blog, and think she will forgive my copying it here. It speaks to romantic love, the way it feels at first blush, which in the best of all scenarios returns again and again as sense memory.


New York City
November 10, 1958

Dear Thom:

We had your letter this morning. I will answer it from my point of view and of course Elaine will from hers.

First — if you are in love — that’s a good thing — that’s about the best thing that can happen to anyone. Don’t let anyone make it small or light to you.

Second — There are several kinds of love. One is a selfish, mean, grasping, egotistical thing which uses love for self-importance. This is the ugly and crippling kind. The other is an outpouring of everything good in you — of kindness and consideration and respect — not only the social respect of manners but the greater respect which is recognition of another person as unique and valuable. The first kind can make you sick and small and weak but the second can release in you strength, and courage and goodness and even wisdom you didn’t know you had.

You say this is not puppy love. If you feel so deeply — of course it isn’t puppy love.

But I don’t think you were asking me what you feel. You know better than anyone. What you wanted me to help you with is what to do about it — and that I can tell you.

Glory in it for one thing and be very glad and grateful for it.

The object of love is the best and most beautiful. Try to live up to it.

If you love someone — there is no possible harm in saying so — only you must remember that some people are very shy and sometimes the saying must take that shyness into consideration.

Girls have a way of knowing or feeling what you feel, but they usually like to hear it also.

It sometimes happens that what you feel is not returned for one reason or another — but that does not make your feeling less valuable and good.

Lastly, I know your feeling because I have it and I’m glad you have it.

We will be glad to meet Susan. She will be very welcome. But Elaine will make all such arrangements because that is her province and she will be very glad to. She knows about love too and maybe she can give you more help than I can.

And don’t worry about losing. If it is right, it happens — The main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away.



  1. This is all so perfect. The sight of your dear husband at your return, his cooking for you, the letter by Steinbeck.
    Love. There are so many different kinds and even in one relationship- so many.
    Let us glory in all of them that we can. Let us gain knowledge and comfort in them all.

  2. Remembering the food, that is so perfect. It's all perfect but food after a day of not eating, wonderful.

  3. Oh, I love your husband. He's your home.