“We all dream of that chance meeting, that moment when we feel we are really living”
-Sunday Telegraph’s review of “The bridges of Madison County”
I have just finished reading the book-The bridges of Madison County.
It tells the story of a married but lonely Italian woman-Francesca, living in 1960s Madison County, Iowa, who engages in an affair with a National Geographic photographer from Washington, Robert Kincaid who is visiting Madison County in order to create a photographic essay on the covered bridges in the area. As dreams and responsibilities of a real world clash the ill-fated couple decides to part-their 4 day love affair defining the rest of their lives.
Hold on. Wait a second. A brief encounter whose passion will last a lifetime? Is it a Mills and Boons I picked up or a classic which is one of the highest selling books of 20th century.
Maybe am too cynical and world weary. The book is good, the language so simple yet you can feel the dusty afternoon Kincaid drives upto Madison County. The covered bridges and the gossip at the local saloon.
But can someone really experience true love-the once in many life times certainty in 4 days? forget in 4 years or in 40 years?Is true love really being swept off your feet by a exotic stanger who lives a life you can only dream about.
Infactuation-maybe. Lust-maybe. The heady cocktail of attraction and taboo-most definitely.
Why is that great love stories are often the ones that are ill fated? Where lovers see each others reflections and fall in love? Where they kill themselves because they cant spend a life time together?
It is because the heady, giddy feeling will never last a lifetime. Science tells its unsustainable neurological phenomenon-that our nerve cells light up at the sight of a beloved but this consumes an incredible amount of energy. To seal this initial bond to something stronger-a bond called affection it pumps enough pleasurable chemicals equivalent to a high dose of a good quality drug.
Affection is on the otherhand is something very different from attraction. It can sustain a happiness on seeing a beloved despite countless towels on the floor, choosing boy’s night out over movie and dinner plans, of gifting free shopping vouchers to family over you.
And that is my problem with all “profound love stories”. The four days are magical because you never saw who the other person really is. You see what you want to see. You see what what could be. And can some one be such a force of nature that those 4 days define your life entirely?
I know its fiction. I know am not supposed to find logical loopholes where love is all encompassing. After all in todays world a girl giving up her life for a vampire’s love defines the standard for love, Fransesca and Robert are as real as they get. Small town farmers wife and a wandering photographer.
Love for me is NOT never having to say I’m sorry. Love for me is to kill your ego and say sorry when you have hurt your beloved.