10 Inspiring Expressions of Love

Need ideas for Valentine’s Day presents? Then, man, do I got some sure-to-please ideas for you. 

How about some flowers? Or a subscription to jam of the month. Or a subscription to sock of the month. That stuffed animal from the claw machine at the laundromat that is always stuck in the corner. An acoustic rendition Outkast’s “Hey ya!”. Or a hamster.

If still need inspiration a part from the above suggestions (which I don’t know why you would), look to these ten stories about timeless expressions of love.

1. Nebuchadnezzar II had a green thumb and a big ‘ol heart.

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon were supposedly built in the sixth century B.C. by Nebuchadnezzar II as a gift for his wife, Amytis of Media. After marrying Nebuchadnezzar II and moving to the flat deserts of Babylon, Amytis longed for the forests and mountains of her native land (modern-day Kurdistan). To cure her homesickness, her husband ordered the construction of a series of terraced gardens within the walls of the city.

Certain historians question whether or not the gardens ever actually existed, but I am sure that these skeptics aren’t big fans of love or horticulture.

2. Marie Curie wore her bridal gown in her laboratory.

Pierre Curie first proposed to Marie Curie while she was pursuing her studies at the University of Paris, conducting research involving the magnetic properties of various steels. At first she denied his proposal because she wanted to continue her research in her native Poland. Attracted to her love of science and passion for the physical world, thus bringing a whole new meaning to Thomas Dolby’s “She Blinded Me with Science”, Pierre vowed he would follow her to Poland even if that meant he would be reduced to teaching French.

When Marie was denied a place at Krakow University, on the basis of her being a woman, she was convinced by Pierre to return to France and pursue her PhD. The two were married in a non-religious ceremony, in which Marie opted for a navy blue gown instead of the traditional white get-up. Marie would continue to wear the outfit for many years while she worked in her laboratory.

3. Joltin Joe’s flowers for Marilyn Monroe… swoon!

Even though the baseball player and the Hollywood legend were married for less than a year, Joe DiMaggio never remarried and reportedly remained infatuated with the actress. After Monroe’s untimely and highly publicized death, DiMaggio sent red roses to her grave every week for twenty years.

4. Performance artists walked the Great Wall of China… to break up.

Marina Abramović and Ulay were two performance artists who dated throughout the ’80s. After several years of a tumultuous relationship, the two decided to separate and did so by walking the entire Great Wall of China. They started on opposite ends, walked 2500 km over 90 days and meet in the middle to say goodbye, never planning to see one another again.

The only closure I have ever known is The Lord of Rings trilogy and two to seven California burritos.

5. There’s a couple that have worn matching outfits for 35 years.

Donald Featherstone, the artist that designed the now iconic pink plastic flamingos you see in your zany neighbor’s front lawn, proposed to his wife, Nancy, on their first date. For the past 35 years Nancy has made twin outfits for the couple, who now have four wardrobes full of paired ensembles.

“Donald used to have to travel for business and when I packed his case, I’d tell him which outfit to wear on which day, so we coordinated even though we were apart. It helped us feel connected to each other.”

6. Composer Richard Wagner gave his wife one hell of a birthday present.

The German composer is primarily known for “Ride of the Valkyries,” which has been featured in multiple film scores, including Birth of a Nation and Apocalypse Now.  But Wagner is also remembered for secretly composing the symphony “Tribschen Idyll” as a present for his wife, Cosima, on her 33rd birthday. On Christmas morning in 1870, Wagner and a 15-piece orchestra assembled on the staircase of his and Cosima’s house and woke her by playing the piece.

My fifth grade boyfriend did practically the same thing for me in ‘04 on Arbor Day with his recorder during recess.

7. The Taj Mahal’s sentimental and slightly macabre function has a special meaning.

Mughal emperor Shah Jahan commissioned the famed landmark around 1632 as a tomb for his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died giving birth to the couple’s 14th child. The Shah was so despondent after his wife’s death that he renounced music and other forms of entertainment for two years. He built the Taj Mahal primarily as a monument to her memory. With its 42-acre grounds and a marble dome (the thing that looks like an onion) that is nearly 115 ft. high, the structure took almost a decade to build and nearly bankrupted the empire. When he died in 1666, Shah Jahan was buried alongside his beloved wife in the white marble tomb.

8. Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Portuguese sonnets that weren’t Portuguese at all.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning published a series of sonnets for her husband and fellow poet, Robert Browning, called “Sonnets from the Portuguese.”

After hearing her husband talk about the thematic failings of so-called “personal poetry”, Barrett revealed that she had once written a series of 44 sonnets during their courtship about her love for him. Struck by the beauty of the poems, Browning did a complete 180 on his stance of “personal poetry” and encouraged his wife to publish the collection. She agreed but insisted that they be published as alleged translations of Portuguese sonnets in order to hide their personal nature.

9. The 96-year-old who penned a song for his wife after over seventy years of marriage will melt your heart.

Fred Stobaugh entered a song that he had written for his recently deceased wife into the Peoria, IL-based Green Shoe Studio’s songwriting contest after seeing an ad for the competition the local newspaper. The studio produced the song and Stobaugh become the senior most artist credited on a Billboard Top 100 hit.

Check out a small documentary about Fred and his song, “Oh Sweet Loraine,” here. 

10. The older couple that I see walking hand-in-hand everyday to the grocery store… AWW!

I am from a town about 25 miles north of downtown San Diego called Encinitas. It is big enough so that you don’t know everyone’s name but small enough so that everyone looks vaguely familiar.

There is this older couple I see nearly everyday that walk hand-in-hand up a street called El Camino Real to go to the grocery store, and then walk back to their home, carrying their groceries. I don’t know their names or who they are or where they live but I know that they are in love.

Whether you are a Babylonia prince, a Nobel Prize winner or a person reading this list while sitting in your desk at work just passing some time, I think we can all agree that what we really want is a person to carry a few groceries with.

Featured image via.

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