Romance is not chocolate or roses. It's risk...
"Vulnerability is the essence of romance."
Best read to this song: Sinnerman
It was the middle of the night when my alarm went off at a low roar. My parents had been in bed for roughly an hour, and it was time to make my escape. Twelve years old, and trained in the tactical art of defiance. I had my all-black ninja attire (Nike jumpsuit) hanging in my closet, like I would imagine a young Batman would have. Quickly I tossed it on, took a deep breath to collect my wits, popped out the window screen, and perched on the rooftop. I surveyed the street for a moment for anyone rustling about. It was suburban quiet out at that time of night, especially during the weekdays. I lay on my stomach atop the shingles with my head hanging over the eavestrough. With both palms down in a supinated position, I GI Joe kung-fu-gripped the trough and in an acrobatic forward rotation, my legs came over top of me and I was now swinging for a split second before dropping off into the garden below. The tall bushes blocked my decent as my feet silently hit soil. Success, but no time for smiles. My journey had just begun and turning back was as risky as its departure.
The first major obstacle was overcome, but now came the gates and the gate keeper was our tiny Irish Terrier pup named Journey—of course. Since my room was at the front of the house and the shortest, stealthiest route starting from the backyard, I could overt any neighbour’s watchful eyes at the risk of a few more obstacles. A decision that took into account the lack of control of constantly suspicious suburbanites and a comfortable existence that secretly hoped for an incongruent occurrence of some kind. Certainly, ninja Jay running through the streets would be their ideal dilemma of synaptic satisfaction. However, with my environmentally endearing parents having turned off the outside lights before bed, I could easily glide the perimeter of the house with the culpability of the streetlights just trimming my toes.
As I approached the first gate my heartbeat, engineered out of necessity, had acclimatized itself for “sneak mode” stress. The lever of the gate was lightly lifted with a slow desperation. I could never decide whether my dad had deliberately kept it creaky as a natural deterrent. Slowly guiding the lever over the clasp, I had to be particularly quiet as my parent's window hung ominously over the gate. If the light turned on, I had to quickly make an ascent back to my room, and the night would be spoiled. As a rule, I would only make one attempt per night. The carefully considered rules of a hopeful romantic who had been grounded, scorned, and familiarized with punishments of the past. Second obstacle averted. I stepped each foot with a deliberate slowness that had to occur at intervals that wouldn’t be representative of the creatures my pup was instinctively set to slay. This phase seemed to take forever. My eyes scanned as my ears perked with vigilance at my pace. Easy Jay...I often coached myself in third person. The second gate was smooth, and I was now at the cusp of the tree line leading myself into the dark forest. Our house growing up backed onto a forest where I spent most of my freedom. I would climb, swing, and scout my way to inspiration, imagination, and the mysteries of a young explorer.
The next forty minutes would be open sprints and combat rolls. Unnecessary combat rolls, that seemed completely essential at the time, every time. The route to my crushes house had been familiarly mapped out over already years of surveying my quickly expanding territory of play as a kid. Ten kilometres later, hurdling through woods and weaving through streets, parks, paths, and construction sites, I finally made it to the window of my sweetheart. She knew I would be arriving around this time if everything went according to etch-a-sketch plan, and with a faint knock, I could hear her scramble to the window.
Once inside her room it was all whispered kisses, and an exchange of thoughtful love letters with the folded intricacies that my dexterity could never quite duplicate. We giggled in a hushed buzz that is forever fused to my memory. Ten minutes felt like hours, but just as quickly as I had arrived; I was off into the night again. The journey home always felt faster with an invigoration that washes its way into an exultant pace. Possibly a skip. I would definitely skip. And laugh like a mad-man, sometimes howling. Arrival home, the ascent to bed was a temporary buzz kill before face-planting bliss. Quietly climbing on the BBQ, hopping with tippy toes on the edge of the fence while grabbing hold of the eavestrough and lifting myself up onto the roof; I sword-stepped it back to my window across the shingles. The face plant left the impression of a smiley face, no doubt.
It was the risk and thoughtfulness that ultimately created deep meaning for both our young hearts. Eat chocolate everyday, smell, pick, or purchase flowers every chance you have, but when it comes to romance get creative and use your imagination.
Reckon the odds and boldly embrace the risk.
Enjoy a closing tune: Young Heart Run Free