Fickle. That’s probably the best description of my feelings about Valentine’s Day. There are years when I’m thrilled to celebrate love with chocolate, that fat little cherub, and his matchmaking arrows. Then, there are other years when it feels as if I’ve saved up all my bitterness for this one special day.
No matter what category you fall into this year, it is almost impossible not to smile while reading Dave Isay’s All There Is. The compilation of stories from Storycorps’ oral history project share anecdotes of love found, lost, and regained. The short and sweet transcriptions of conversations between two lovers, friends, or family members make you feel like you’re eavesdropping on a genuine moment. Each story only takes minutes to read, making it the perfect anecdote for an especially gloomy day. It’s sweet, sometimes silly, and often heartwarming. Mostly, it’s inspiring.
But even if you have an icebox where your heart used to be, All There Is can at least teach you a few lessons. No wonder it’s a Valentine’s Day gift “more meaningful than any box of chocolates.”
5 Lessons Even The Bitter Can Appreciate (or at least laugh at):
- Don’t judge a book by its cover bad taste in T-shirts.
When a guy shows up to your first date with a T-shirt that says “Ten reasons why beer is better than a woman,” you may want to run. But maybe — just maybe — you should still give him a shot. Carol did and she’s been married to the guy for 12 years.
- Knowing each other for only a short period of time doesn’t mean the marriage can’t last longer than 72 days (Sorry, Kim!)
Seven of the couples in the book met less than one month before they wed. All of them lasted between 5 and 50 years.
- Mama really does know best.
Imagine meeting an older woman for the first time and having her say, “It’s a pleasure to meet you. My name is Nadia, and I’m going to be your future mother-in-law.” Imagine how weird it is when she’s right. That’s exactly what happened to Steven. Even after her daughter protested being set up, Nadia concocted a plan: She enlisted both Steven and her daughter to help her move. They’ve been married for three years.
- Language doesn’t have to be a barrier.
Slovakian Tomás was still perfecting his English when he met his wife in a restaurant. When he realized he was falling in love, he told her, “I’m sick of you.” Translated from Slovak that’s how you say “I’m lovesick”. That’s not exactly the way every woman dreams her husband will drop the L-word but she gave him a second chance anyway. Three years after that first date, they got married.
- Even when we think we’ve screwed up our chances, there’s still hope.
Before Henry said anything to Gwendolyn he walked into a wall right outside her office. Twice. In the same place. At first she thought he just needed to watch where he was going but she also thought it was his silly way of getting her attention. The truth is Henry was just distracted. Gwendolyn approached him anyway. As far as we know, he managed to make it down the aisle without walking into any walls. Twenty years later, they are still married.
Your turn: What love lessons have you learned from a book?