In the midst of all their questing, Heroes usually encounter a Love Interest. Today is Valentine’s Day, so I’m celebrating mine.
My Wife and I have been together for almost eight years. Rachel is the Leading Lady of my Story, but she is so much more. For those of you that don’t know her, she is a force of nature.
Traditionally, in Tales of Heroic Adventure, female Love Interest characters are depicted as passive, benign creatures. There is a literary term, Princesse lointaine, a French term meaning “distant princess”, which refers to a beautiful woman with admirable character and good pedigree. Old school Knights-Errant were drawn to such women, and were inspired by Love to perform Heroic acts in their honor. Often these princesses embodied the “damsel-in-distress” archetype, frequently finding themselves in peril with no plan, other than to wait for a Brave Knight to rescue them.
Then, a strange thing happened. Women realized how badass they can be. Women’s sufferage. Feminism. Billie Jean King. Maybe not the sexiest progression I could have conjured. But they made girl power a thing. So by the time I was a kid, as an alternative to Disney princesses, girls could instead emulate Princess Leia, grabbing a blaster and leading an Intergalactic Rebellion. Or, wear a gold bikini slave girl ensemble and chill with a morbidly obese space gangster. You know, either/or.
Anyhow, these days, strong female Heroes are pervasive, from Xena to Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Alias and beyond. Even Disney has caught on, with Brave and others. Today, a princess has to have spirit.
Rachel definitely fits in the latter category. But she’s so much more than that. No fictional princess or heroine are a match for my Wife. Our daughters don’t need any two-dimensional role models, she is all they will ever need.
She is the most Authentic person I have ever met. She is outspoken, and often brutally honest. She can be abrasive, she steps on toes. By contrast, she is a born caretaker, a nurturing mother and empathetic to a fault.
She is courageous, and rages against the unjust. She is a fighter and a leader, and has a clear Moral Code. People have often expressed amazement at her strength. By contrast, she is beautiful and feminine and has moments of absolute fragility.
To paraphrase Walt Whitman, does she contradict herself? Very well, then she contradicts herself. She is large, she contains multitudes.
Over the past eight years, we have shared tragic loss and transcendent joy and frustration and success and failure. And through it all, she has maintained a Grace that I can hardly comprehend.
When we first met, she devastated me. She devastates me still.
And like a true Knight-Errant, I am inspired by her. To embark on Adventures, to seek Treasures, to slay Dragons. Together.