Thursday, January 28, 2010

What Is Romantic?

A recent Mobile Junction post this week touted both skeptical and affirmative responses from some locals to the selection of Grand Junction as one of 12 finalists for the "Most Romantic City in America" in a contest sponsored by the makers of Korbel champagne.

As luck would have it, two of the finalists are the places where I have lived out all of my nearly 50 years on this earth; Grand Junction and Pittsburgh. Other locations nominated that I have been to are Gold Beach, Oregon, Kansas City, and Manhattan, Kansas. Gold Beach is a very pretty place, and perhaps could be romantic. I was only 8 the last time I was there.

Leslie and I had a lengthy discussion on the phone last night about what constitutes a romantic place. What is it that brings this out? She's been to Grand Junction, and dismissed it out of hand as a romantic destination. I'm inclined to side with her on that one. True, GJ can be a beautiful place, especially late at night during a snowfall, when the reflected ambient light maintains a sort of twilight, and muffles all of the ambient sound so that a peaceful silence prevails over the neighborhood. I feel a sense of awe and wonder with this and other sights, but not romance.

As the person that nominated GJ described, we're proximal to all manner of breathtaking destinations, with tall cliffs, abundant snow, pine forests and red rock deserts. We're a convenient way station while en route to places that seem to encourage a feeling of intimacy, like a cabin on Grand Mesa, a quiet dinner in Ouray, viewing a red sunset from an overlook at Arches, or sitting quietly in a gazebo on a summer evening admiring the vistas of Gateway Canyons.

I think that romance is in the heart of the beholder. The person that nominated Pittsburgh got to the 'heart' of the matter with her submission:
To me, Pittsburgh is the most romantic city in the world, for every time I stand at the top of Mount Washington which overlooks the city skyline, the rivers, the forests, and my old neighborhood, I am flooded with the memories of my first love, my daughters' first date, my sons' first kiss and the first time my parents took me to light up night downtown...The most romantic city? Pittsburgh, because HOME is and always will be, where the heart is.
Now obviously there is some bias on my part, because my love is there now and I miss her. Pittsburgh is a place where nostalgia and history play a big part in how people connect; where else would a traffic cop who gained fame in the 60's and again in the 80's be remembered so fondly on the local news, after his passing this week at age 92? Rest in peace, Vic Cianca...

I guess my point is this; there will be enough champagne, dozens of roses, and hot tubs for two as Valentine's Day approaches, but there are places in all of us that helped to connect us with someone else, just by the sharing of a quiet moment together. For me, those places are as varied as a hiking trail through a cedar swamp in Massachusetts to an Irish pub in Las Vegas.
It's less about the physical attributes of a certain place, and more about the way we felt when we were there.

May you find special places like that in your travels through life. Enjoy the snow.

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