How lucky am I that I can carry the peace of the forest in my heart.
- Jane Goodall
The cabin in Maine was built by a wildly charming family. They spent their young summers here. They lit those fireworks stashed in the kitchen drawers, slept next to friends in all angles along the painted wooden floor, told stories of a water monster (“Megladon”) who drowned a swimming deer on the adjacent lake. They laughed and shared and warmly greeted the kayaking neighbors.
There is romanticism in these stories, embedded in the way they were told to me. I met the two brothers while working as a waitress in the Florida panhandle. One brother was engaged to a fearless woman from New York. I used to crush pretty hard on the other one. We all had perpetually sunburned shoulders and an internal compass pointing directly toward the waves.
Romance is the collected understanding that there is beauty and grandeur connecting the intangible inside of a person to the physical and tangible outside of a reality. It explains why we treasure the small, resonant memories when our stories as a whole can feel overwhelmingly dull and uneventful. Romance overflows the heart and seeks out the soul’s open wounds where reality has not met desire.
Years later, the cabin held a new kind of romance. The kind that opens you up and helps you sleep without dreams because the mind has been truly employed during its waking hours. Unlike the previous inhabitants, we didn’t set fireworks or sleep on the floor. Late October only allowed for one stupid-cold jump into the lake. But we made a pie, undercooked breakfast hash and grilled cheese. We read books, took photos, video, notes and nature walks. We stoked coals, dragged canoes, and drove in silence. Steam rose from every coffee pot and every cup of soup. The floor was too cold for our bare feet.
I think romanticism is something entirely common, rooted in the menial but rarely experienced until days and decades pass, and time erodes the stress that caused us to miss it in the first place.
Jane Goodall said, “how lucky am I that I can carry the peace of the forest in my heart.” I think this statement was made by a person who loves her life, treasures it now. Someone who understands romance. How lucky am I that I carry Maine in my heart.