By Saf Shams

Photo credit: cottonbro

Of all the many faces I wear and the identities that I find myself a part of—and there are quite a few of them—I believe that one of the most important of those is that of an artist. Well, not an artist as heaven knows that my abilities with a brush and colors are as impeccable as a rooster meowing at midnight, or, as my lovely editors would more concisely phrase it: “non-existent.” Rather, I see myself as an aspiring creator, whether in the specific role of a writer, poet, or the occasional dry comedian. And in most of my creations, the theme I largely relate to is that of romance.

More often than not, I find myself going on and on about pages full of romantic overtures, grand poems addressed to invisible muses residing within the mind, creating deities of minimal things and just existing somewhere between the states of ephemeral melancholy or chaotic liveliness.

But herein lies the oddity.  I am not in any strict romantic relationship.

In fact, I would argue that some of my best works were born in moments of aloneness, and they were not depressive works either. But despite all the romanticism found within my creations, the generally held view that “romance” only refers to romantic relationships is simply antithetical to my identity as an artist of romance. And as anyone who has ever taken a British Literature course would know, the definition of the word romance is not solely retained by relationships. In light of this, I would like to draw on one of the other definitions found in the Oxford English Dictionary for the word:

“The character or quality that makes something appeal strongly to the imagination and sets it apart from the mundane; an air, feeling, or sense of wonder, mystery, and remoteness from everyday life; redolence or suggestion of, or association with, adventure, heroism, chivalry, etc.”

I find this particular definition to be more appealing and certainly more applicable to the word “romance.” It is not only “greater” in scope but also affords more freedom in its usage and inclusivity in its application. This form of romance allows for a doorway into a world which encapsulates both the reality we live in as well as a more enhanced version of it. And it is this version through which I find myself able to capture elements of romances that provide friends who view my Instagram stories with my poems reply “relate,” followed by a mass of heart emojis and yellow-faces-making-various-expressions emojis.

Moreover, this take on romance allows me a sense of peace, and more importantly happiness, with my status as a single person. 

In the past, I fully ascribed to the notion of romance as pertaining only to relationships, and whenever I found myself out of one, it seemed to take the color away from everything in existence, as if that relationship was the sole conduit of romance in my life and without it there was simply a void. It was only when I found myself developing more and more as a writer and, over the course of time with the aid of a supportive group of individuals, that I came upon this admittedly vaguer, yet more fulfilling definition of it. While there are still shots of melancholy taken with a glass of sadness, I can admit that my acceptance and embodiment of this term is something that has benefitted me for the better.

Nowadays, every grocery trip is a miniature adventure (obviously accompanied by upbeat tempos playing through my headphones), cleaning the house is a poem in which the floors may metaphorize themselves into a garden and I, it’s humble keeper. Reading books is getting lost in all these wild worlds (though not even the greatest of romantics could liven a history reading about grain), going on walks means constant poetic inspiration, telling family stories gives birth to fantasy realms within the confines of the mind, hanging out with friends is just the most wonderful feeling of all, sharing a coffee with someone you like is living a mythical romance more colorful than Orpheus’s, and sitting alone by the foggy window reminiscing with a warm cup of vanilla chai your friend gifted you while it’s 2 A.M is living a dream. 

I guess there’s a larger theme to all of this—to look at things from a different angle—but I am not here to pitch anything. In the end, romance, whatever its form may be to you, is an experience. And this, very much, is mine as it allows me to not only be creative but also shapes my perception of the world as a bit more joyful. A bit more colorful. It’s a personalized experience, and it can be found anywhere. In fact, I am very much of the opinion that finding joy and wonder at words being placed next to each other to form a complexly inconvenient metaphor that your editor will definitely frown upon at the start of your article is a grandly romantic undertaking…

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