I saw those words written in the sidewalk – Love is all you need – preserved for posterity, for all to see. What a great message to leave in the wet cement, words of wisdom we should all live by. Yes, it is Valentine’s Day – my very favorite holiday! But here’s a thought – what if we could celebrate love every day? Not just relegating it to one day out of the year. Wouldn’t that be something…. My gift to you on this day of lovely celebration of all things love is a love story, a love poem, and tokens of love in the form of some photos from the International Rose Test Garden here in Portland, Oregon featuring the flower of love, the rose. And I leave you with a favorite quote from William Shakespeare, in regard to something that fills me with absolute joy, the lovely strains of music – If music be the food of love, play on.
Love at the Listening Station
He saw her there, her long brown hair swaying all around her, covered by the black plastic earmuffs of the headphones. Jason came here often, to the place appropriately named An Earful of Music. It was a hold out in the dying breed of independent record stores who tried to stay afloat in a sea of digital downloads. But there were still enough music lovers who wanted the whole package; an album with all the songs, not just the popular ones, with the cover art and liner notes, be it in cd or vinyl format, the latter format making a comeback in recent years. The listening station at the store was like a tree in the forest of cd and record bins. But it was a haven for those who wanted to check out all the new music and even the old music at times. There were four branches of the listening station tree, each holding a cd, a small cd player, and a pair of headphones. Jason walked over and pretended to study the cds available for listening, yet he couldn’t help but stare at her, the woman with the long brown hair. She took no notice of him, she was deep into the music – eyes closed, hands cupped over the headphones, her body moving back and forth in time to the music that only she could hear. And that gorgeous hair, it moved to and fro like a soft and sweet metronome. It was all Jason could do to not reach out and touch a strand; he just wanted to feel a brush of that delicate hair against his skin.
Who would have thought he would find a goddess at the record store? Jason couldn’t help but beat himself up over his poor choice of clothing that day – the threadbare black t-shirt that said “Rock!” on it in large white letters, complete with a hole worn through in the letter o. This was paired with the jeans he had found on the floor of his bedroom; destined for the laundry basket but good for one more wearing, or so he had thought at the time. Jason had meant to shower before leaving his house, but he really needed that cup of coffee he had gotten on his way to Earful, so he had made a last minute grab of a white baseball cap with a bright rainbow colored peace sign on it – it worked just fine to cover his somewhat greasy hair that really needed to be washed. But the goddess, who was standing so close to him, she was dressed as a goddess should be. She wore a bright yellow sundress, light and gauzy, and it twirled around her as she danced to the music. And her feet, with toenails painted in pretty pastel pink, were graced by a pair of sequin covered flip-flops. Jason swore that he could see a glow of pale white light all around her. He was mesmerized! He could feel Cupid’s arrow as it pierced his heart.
He reached to one side of the listening station for a cd that caught his eye, but his eyes weren’t on the cd, they were on the dancing woman. Jason watched in what seemed like slow motion as the cd fell to the floor, glancing off the toes of the goddess.“Ouch!” she exclaimed as she was snapped out of her musical reverie and bent down to massage her injured toes, glancing up at Jason with a goddess of war look in her eyes.
“Oh my god, I am so sorry!” Jason profusely apologized. “It just got away from me – I must have butterfingers – sorry I’m so clumsy. Are you okay?”
“Oh yes, I’ll be fine; it just startled me more than anything, that’s all; no damage done.”
“My name’s Jason by the way – and you are?”
“I’m Isabella but my friends call me Belle.” So now the goddess had a name, also befitting her. Jason would have rather called her Isabella; it moved like a beautiful waltz as he said her name in his head.
“Do you come here often?” Jason asked, and then wanted to smack himself in the head after saying what sounded like the most clichéd pick-up line ever.
“When I decide it’s time to buy some music I like coming here more than anywhere else – I love the listening station – it helps me decide what I really want to buy and sometimes I find new music I haven’t heard that I end up buying.” Belle seemed oblivious to Jason’s botched attempt at conversation.
Jason breathed a silent sigh of relief – at least so far she didn’t find him to be a total loser. He still had a chance to try to speak like a normal person and redeem himself, after looking like both a clumsy oaf and a smooth talking player.
“Yeah, I love this place, especially with all the vinyl they carry now; I’m kind of into that when I can find it. And the listening station is great, you’re right about finding new music; the radio stations don’t always play what I want to hear so I can come here and find new stuff,” Jason said. “And I think it’s really important to support the independent record stores instead of just going to Target or Wal-Mart for music – those places just don’t have the right vibe for buying music, you know?”
“I agree,” said Belle, “We really need to shop local and support the little guy who’s trying to make it.”
Jason reached down and picked up the cd that had fallen and put it back on the holder.
“Can I get you a cup of coffee, to make up for injuring your foot? Maybe we can compare notes on who we like, or you can tell me what you thought of the album you were listening to before my rude interruption,” Jason inquired.
“Thanks, that sounds great. I know a really cool coffeehouse a couple blocks down if that’s okay. They make an awesome cup of coffee with a shot of caramel in it, if you like that. And they also have macaroons that are amazing!”
“Yeah, that sounds like a great place. Are you ready to go?” Jason asked her.
“I’m ready when you are. Don’t you want to listen to the cd you found though?”
Jason just smiled at her; the reason he came to Earful in the first place, to find some music, was so far from his mind now. He was ready to run out of there – quick! – before Isabella, Belle as she wanted to be called changed her mind.
“No, I’ll come back later; it’s not a big deal. I’d rather talk music with you right now than listen to any – and I’d really enjoy a cup of coffee with such a lovely fellow lover of music.” Now that was more like it, sincere words meant to show her that he really was a nice guy and not a dork who fumbled like a schoolboy. And judging by the sweet smile Belle gave him, she seemed interested. She hung up her set of headphones and followed Jason out the door, grabbing his hand as she led him in the direction of the coffeehouse.
Behind the counter, Sean just smiled and shook his head. He had worked at An Earful of Music for 10 years now, and in that time he wondered what it was about the listening station that brought so many couples together. It had to be some sort of love energy that radiated in that spot; why, they had actually had two couples come back and ask to be married there, in the place where they first met. And being such a sucker for a love story, Sean took out the small notebook he kept behind the counter and tallied another mark on the page, entitled Love at the Listening Station.
To his love
Like a flower
To quench my thirst
For his touch
To his love
Like the moon
Needing the sun’s light
So that I may glow
In his presence
When he comes to me
To his love
Like all things
That need each other
In order to flourish
He is my every need
I need him
HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!