Parks and more Hughes we can use

What do you do on a date? An former boss, years ago, used to confide in me about the travails of limited funding, as they related to her love life, with a nice quip: Romance without finance is a nuisance.

I don’t know if it was original, probably not, and we can all be quick to agree with the sentiment. But how true is it? It might be easy for me to say that such a statement represents a mere lack of imagination on her part, that the nuisance would only refer to that to which we had grown accustomed, not the least the very ordinariness of great amusements, which themselves soon breed an ever-expanding ennui. No, what it is that we must afford is the almost constant introduction of something new and exciting, which does, yes, become easier with increased funding.

But sourced in this way, romance also grows infinitely more elusive, farther out of reach, psychologically, feebly balanced as an experience only reached at great expense. An arbitrary chasm opens between us and happiness, crossed only with artifice, such that our contentment itself becomes a predicate of erstwhile consideration, of currency. Now, there is a relationship between love and currency, but this is very different from conventional romance.

So, amusements displace imagination, let’s say, and though we might think it’s not as simple as that, the increased complexity can become so pervasive that it is difficult to find examples of its lack. This, too, then becomes a rather romantic notion, the pursuit of which we place on some plane beyond finance per se, as we begin to admit some of the things money cannot buy. Not that these are free, mind us, but that their enjoyment occupies a space other than that which can be exchanged for everyday consideration. They become, in essence, off limits from common experience. By definition, any such proximity would then be the very opposite of a nuisance. [oh, and you have emphasize the second syllable to make the phrase operative in ______’s original]

And while that’s not positive ID on romance always, it should be considered of its general direction. So how would we go about re-introducing this sort of space? Should we re-introduce it? Such an effort would be akin to a re-introduction to doing nothing; is that even necessary? Is anything more necessary, in the case of an unbecoming unfamiliarity?. Is there a compelling reason to sit in a park or read a poem to a lover, or both? Does such a space committed to prolonged and deliberate un-economic activity seem an anathema, or a godsend? Of all that is lost to barriers of cost, are the open spaces a nuisance, or is their very lack of charge, or production if you need to think of it that way, the disguised price of entry we search for in a world of nominal fees?

These things add up. Question the lack of green space, formerly known as parks and as places where people did nothing – itself a pejorative of the ill-repute we have allowed to befall the reading of poems and the wooing of girls, as if these were of no import and could be done without. Well, here we are. If the lack of nuisance no amount can afford is the mere absence of place and the fullness of an empty afternoon, all that’s needed is to remember that it is not so very far away, even as it seems.

Langston Hughes, Fire-Caught:

The gold moth did not love him
So, gorgeous, she flew away.
But the gray moth circled the flame
       Until the break of day.
And then, with wings like a dead desire,
She fell, fire-caught, into the flame.