Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Posts Tagged ‘caring

Romance, “Changing Faces,” and Valentine’s Day

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Folks, as most of you know, Valentine’s Day rapidly approaches. V-Day is one of those times that men mostly hate, some women (such as myself) mostly hate as well, and most people in relationships can also dread because the social significance of the day is murky, at best.

See, we’re told over and over again to get our loved ones things. Lots and lots of things, whether it’s jewelry, Pajamagrams, teddy bears, or, if you have enough money to do so, a new car…all of those things are going to be hawked to you, or anyone in a relationship, as needed and necessary for V-Day.

The meaning of what love is, much less what Valentine’s Day should be about — the celebration of love, and those who dare to keep loving despite the longest of odds — seems to get more lost by the day.

I’d rather talk about what true love is.

True love is caring. Sacrifice for your partner, if needed (and sometimes, it will be needed, in one form or another). Compassion. Paying attention to what matters to you, and trying to alleviate the worst of what brings you down…that is what love is about.

Love is unselfish, too. It’s all about the other person, caring more for them than you do about your own self, and about making that other person happy.

Yeah, you should get something out of it. You should be happier, wiser, kinder, a better person, and certainly if your lover is not asexual, you should have a happy romantic life ahead of you for as long as you two are together on the face of this Earth…what you get, if you are smart, is a better and more meaningful life, all because you dared to care about someone else more than yourself, and threw out what society assumes is “normal” behavior.

So, how does my new novel, CHANGING FACES, come into this conversation? (Other than the fact that it’s a love story, that is?)

First, read the blurb, as that may help:

Allen and Elaine are graduate students in Nebraska, and love each other very much. Their life should be idyllic, but Elaine’s past includes rape, neglect, and abuse from those who should’ve loved her—but didn’t, because from childhood, Elaine identified as transgender.

When Elaine tells Allen right before Christmas, he doesn’t know what to do. He loves Elaine, loves her soul, has heard about transgender people before, but didn’t think Elaine was one of them—she looks and acts like anyone else. Now, she wants to become a man and is going to leave.

He prays for divine intervention, and says he’ll do anything, just please don’t separate him from Elaine…and gets it.

Now, he’s in Elaine’s body. And she’s in his. They’ll get a second chance at love.

Why? Because once you find your soulmate, the universe will do almost anything to keep you together—even change your faces.

You see, Allen loves Elaine more than he loves himself. He’s confused by her, because she’s trans, because she has gender-fluidity in her makeup, all that…but he loves her. Passionately. And he’ll do anything to stay with her…even become trans himself (albeit through the auspices of two meddling angels), if that is what it takes.

Why does Allen do this? Well, when you’re in love, you care more about the other person than you care about yourself. You want that other person to feel better, and be her best self…you want, in essence, to help that other person become whatever that person needs to be in order to feel good about herself, because doing anything less weakens your love and regard for your partner.

Note that you should never, never, never become less than you are, with someone you love. (I have to point this out, because I know it’s something I wish had been explained to me before I married young. Instead, I had to find out the hard way, and it took years before I found my late husband and realized what true love really was about. But I digress.)

Instead, you should become more yourself. More creative, if that’s what you are. Kinder. More compassionate. More aware of the world and what’s around you. More willing to fight suffering, even if all you can do is give someone a handkerchief when she’s crying and wish you could do more…

You should care, in other words.

No matter how hard it is, no matter how difficult it seems, so long as you and your partner both care, and try, and communicate, and are willing to keep caring and trying and communicating, you have a shot.

(But see what I said before about the limitations of love, especially if you’re with someone who doesn’t care about you…that is the type of person who is only about materialism or what you can do for him/her, and should be avoided at all costs.)

Anyway, I think anyone — straight, gay, lesbian, transgender, gender-fluid, or Martian — should enjoy CHANGING FACES if you enjoy romance at all. It has a fantasy element (how not, me being me?), is quirky (again, me being me, you have to expect that), and it has music and musicians and all sorts of good stuff…but the main thing to remember is, it’s about love. Communication. Compassion. Self-sacrifice. Honesty. And hard work.

Because without compassion, self-sacrifice, honesty, communication, and hard work, love isn’t worth very much. But with them? It’s priceless.

Guaranteed.

Written by Barb Caffrey

February 10, 2017 at 5:51 am

Let’s Talk About…Love?

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Folks, Christopher Graham’s blog this evening had a great post called “‘I Love You’…Why Are We So Afraid to Say it?” by guest author Tina Frisco. Ms. Frisco discusses love, and how important it is, and that we shouldn’t be afraid to use the “three little words” as often as we can in the spirit intended (this spirit, of course, mostly being completely in the spirit of brotherhood/sisterhood rather than sexually based). But perhaps you’d rather hear from Ms. Frisco herself?

Here’s a few words from her guest blog tonight:

Among true friends, why are we so afraid to speak our hearts?  Do we think the sentiment might be misconstrued?  Instead of “I love you” we say “much love,” “love you,” “love and hugs,” “sending love,” etc.  We omit the “I” because it’s uncomfortable to speak and just as uncomfortable to watch the receiver’s reaction if our intentions are misinterpreted.  In saying “I” we make a commitment; we own what we say.  That little one-letter word carries huge implications.  It can cause us to hesitate to reach into the depths of our hearts, extract a kernel of authenticity, and share it with another.  It can also cause the door to many receiving hearts to shut.

I’m not sure why we’re sometimes afraid to speak our hearts to our friends. I do know that I, as a widowed woman, am often afraid to use the “l-word” to any of my male friends, but most particularly to those who are married, engaged, or otherwise attached. I don’t want to be misunderstood; I don’t want to make my friends’ partners angry with me; I don’t want to say something that I know, in American society, is often reserved for either the closest of family relations or our spouses. (Period.)

But I’m not as likely to use the “l-word” with female friends, either. The main reason for that has nothing to do with whether or not someone might think I’ve turned bisexual overnight (I haven’t, though if you think that can happen magically without effort, I have a bridge to sell you in Brooklyn). Instead, it’s because I have a hard time saying something like that, because it’s so naked and so revealing…I may as well strip naked and walk down the street without clothes (a la Kim Kardashian West, without anything close to Mrs. West’s body), because it’s so damned difficult to say.

In fact, the only time I can remember saying to my friends — male and female alike — that I loved them was right after my husband Michael died in 2004. I told them that I loved them all. I figured at that point, they’d best understand my love was more on the agape side, with a bit of philios thrown in; I was in no shape to love anyone erotically except Michael, and he wasn’t there any more. (At least, not physically.)

Ms. Frisco goes on to say:

Our time on this earth is short.  Our reason for being here is to learn.  And there is nothing more gratifying than telling someone you love them and having them receive it with delight and reciprocation.  Saying “I love you” shouldn’t be a fearful thing.  It should be a joyous union of two souls helping each other grow.

I agree with her that life is very short, and I also agree that at least one of the reasons we are here is to learn from others.

Still. It’s really hard to say the three little words to anyone other than your spouse and your nearest and dearest friends, at least in the US of A, for the reasons I gave above. And even there, if your friend is of the opposite sex, you’d best use a ton of qualifiers, or he/she could possibly get the wrong idea…

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to say the words, mind. But I still think it’s far, far more important to let your actions carry weight and meaning.

Maybe it’s because I was divorced before I met Michael, but here’s my take on love: It is a wonderful and even awe-inspiring thing, when someone loves you unconditionally. It feels almost like a sacred trust, except there’s so much love, so much laughter, so much joy in it…you’re still you, with all the flaws endemic in being a human being, and yet you feel understood, and worthwhile, and happy.

But just saying “I love you” is nowhere near enough. You need to back up those actions by listening, by caring, by doing what you can to help your loved one(s), and by making a commitment every single day to be the person who is worthy of such love. Then return those things, every single day, to your loved one(s)…that way, whether you are like me and can only rarely say the “three little words,” your spouses and kids and family members and close friends will know that they are deeply blessed to have you in their lives.

At least, I hope so. Because that is what love is all about, to my mind.

And that is indeed at least one reason why we’re here, too…to love others, as we wish to be loved ourselves. (My husband taught me that, and it’s true.)

Written by Barb Caffrey

September 17, 2016 at 12:16 am