Natural Fibers

You are the air I breathe.

Romance is often figurative. It’s not the hearty literal verb of living or loving, even. It is soft and tender.

I like words and images, so romance works for me. I’m a song, story, poem, sweeping anything kind of person. I am weak knees at a whisper. And I don’t think that makes me silly, naive, or less important. It in no way diminishes my intelligence or my self-respect.

It’s a part of how I’m made, how I respond to the world.

Romance gets a bad rap as ridiculous and unrealistic, but I think it’s helpful to imagine it born of a point in time, a feeling in a moment.

When I was in college, I took a Women’s Studies class. Every Friday, we listened to love songs and broke them down in discussion. The point was to find where the lyric was degrading or disempowering to women. While I am a feminist, this class did not contribute to my understanding.

Carol King’s “Natural Woman” was one of the songs. I remember running pink highlighter along the phrases, “Your love was the key to my peace of mind” and “If I make you happy, I don’t need to do more.”

Sure, if you take the lyric away from Carol’s smokey voice, her piano, and put it like that, in quotes, on a stark white piece of copy paper, I guess it can sound needy, dependent. You could say “Natural Woman” is pathetic.

You could, but you would be wrong.

When I listen to her song, I imagine a woman, sometimes it’s me, waking up—rumpled sheets, a glow of morning dawn. I see her flushed and feeling, in that moment, as if nothing else matters.

A Sunday morning, tea and toast, maybe the newspaper or a movie with her person, her lover. She feels, and that’s the key. She’s not making a list, setting goals, or running for office. She’s no make-up. Behind closed doors, she’s intimate.

“Natural Woman” is romantic. I imagine it was inspired by moments like these.

Now, at some point, sexy Sunday Woman will have to get dressed, go to work, pay bills, and buy toilet paper again. She may pick up kids. She may even arrest someone or go off to war. But who the hell wants to listen to a song about getting money from the ATM or a conference call? No one.

That’s why there’s romance.

Life is nothing if it’s not felt. So while Sunday Woman may be all kinds of independent, toe-to-toe in the corporate culture, in that moment, in that romance, she is . . . saturated, well-loved and loving freely.

I think that’s perfect and allowed.

Women are allowed to feel. Wanting, needing, and being vulnerable. isn’t wrong. It doesn’t mean we’re any less badass. The women who fought for the rights and privileges I enjoy today didn’t want me to stop feeling.

In fact, they are why I get to be female, in all the glory that entails. Some of us have a romantic heart. Those women fought for us too.

Men sing songs about “dying without you” or “I’m helpless in your arms,” “under your spell.”

“You are in my veins” is a personal favorite.

No one ever calls them pathetic. It’s romantic. A gesture, a moment when an attraction, a love, is so powerful that it feels like the person is truly coursing through his bloodstream. Oh yeah, that’s something.

My thoughts from the laundry room. Come Back to Bed.

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3 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Oh, this one is great. I have always wondered at people so one-dimensional that they have a hard time picturing a strong woman as passionate in other ways. I recently saw “Beautiful”, the musical about King. It’s worth the ticket:).

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