Is romance dying?

Note: Just wanted to say thank you again to everyone who participated on and offline in last week's discussion about atheism, non-theism, and, well, theism. That was a pretty intense discussion, and you all gave me much food for thought. While I'm mulling it all over (and preparing for next week's vacation to Spain!), I hope you enjoy this lighter post.

Today's burning question: Is old-school romance dying out?

Exhibit A (from my Buffalo Unscripted trip for work):

Exhibit B (also from Buffalo Unscripted):

I edited Peter's clip, interviewed the Deputats, put it all up on our project blog, and found myself wondering ... does this type of romance still exist? Do grand train stations inspire people to instant passion? Does the meet cute occur with the same regularity it once seemed to? Are kisses -- happy, sudden, heartfelt kisses -- enough?

I ask because I don't really hear my peers share stories like Peter and the Deputats (band name!) do above. To be sure, I have plenty of friends in happy, healthy, satisfying long-term relationships. But I can't remember anyone sharing one defining story about how they met that had the same sweep of excitement and that curious mix of simplicity and maturity.

Now, the difference could be generational. My grandparents' peers had more defined social standards about what was acceptable or advisable. They tended to live in tighter, more close-knit communities where they could draw on their social connections to meet people in a more spontaneous way (compared to the rigors of online dating). Perhaps this is the misconception of any younger generation, but to me, their whole way of being felt more innocent -- not naive, not sheltered, simply innocent. They seemed more open to the possibility of romance, more expectant of it, and maybe that was enough to call it into being.

The difference could also be age. Maybe the passage of time -- and particularly, time spent together -- erases the reticence or pleasant embarrassment a couple might feel about their origin story. Memory softens the hard edges and the spectrum ends remain, making those happy exciting moments even more vibrant. Or maybe, as we age, we inadvertently revise the story, so it becomes an appealing narrative that is true, but not entirely factual.

If the first scenario is true, then yes, romance is literally dying out along with the Greatest Generation. Our world has changed enough in the intervening years that these stories will likely become fewer and farther between. (See: But what will become of the love letter?)

But if the second scenario is true, then we and upcoming generations have a chance. We'll take our vitamins and work out regularly, and hopefully earn ourselves enough time on Earth that one day we can stand in front of a young twenty-something somewhere and sharing our own happy origins. At that point, it will probably be a point of pride.

Or there could be a third scenario -- a variable definition of romance. Maybe, when all is said and done, romance is what you perceive it to be in your own time, your own mind, and your own ways. I'm sure there are some folks reading this post who don't think the videos above are endearing. (In which case I might argue you have no heart, but that would be judgmental, wouldn't it?) But those same people still express love and connection in their own way, and for them, that is romance.

So I guess I can't answer my own question today. I need to give it some time and space. Maybe some more thought. Or forget it entirely and just enjoy the love, affection, and laughter as they come.

Prayer #181: Meet Cute

God, what's our meet cute story? Did we meet on the schoolyard, trip over each other in the grocery store, see each other across the aisle in church? I can't really remember because it seems You've always been there.

We don't always have a lot of fireworks, do we, God? We sometimes talk. We sometimes fight. But mostly we just spend time together, like an old married couple. (Except You don't do the dishes, but we'll let that slide since, you know, you're God.)

Mostly, I feel You there. I want You there. And that is enough.