--Erica Jong, 2004
When people talk about taking risks, usually the first things that come to mind are dare-devil stunts like bungee jumping, sky-diving, or helicopter skiing. Usually, we think of risks as the kind of thing that is over in a flash, a heartbeat; something that scares the bejesus out of you for a moment, until it's over.
But what about love?
As Ben and I crawled into bed yesterday evening, pulling the warm covers up to our chins, I inched right up next to him and wrapped my ankles around his. "You must really love me if you can tolerate my cold feet," I said to him, half of me joking around and the other half wondering if he did object to my cold extremities stealing his heat at night.
"I do love you, I do, and I don't mind your cold feet at all," he replied, kissing my forehead. I rested my head on his shoulder and felt safe, content, relaxed, fortunate, and a million things I don't have the words for.
By now, Ben knows everything about me - my quirks, my shortfalls, and my sometimes illogical logic. But, it wasn't always that way. Figuratively speaking, I had "cold feet" when we met about being myself and open up and trusting that he was being honest about who he was.
After all, love is a risk. Sometimes we don't really have the courage to say what we feel, and instead it comes out in inconvenient, awkward bursts...and we miss out on what might have been. Other times, we open up too freely, thinking the other is being honest, and end up getting burned in the end.
And what about loving someone for years, knowing each other inside and out, and seeing each other through life's struggles and triumphs? What happens when a significant part of your lives is defined by the other, and every plan, every possibility, every happiness, and every thought has the other one in it? There's still no guarantee fate won't play its hand... That kind of loss seems unthinkable.
Even so, if you are to live in this life, really live, all you can do is close your eyes...and jump...and have faith that the bungee cord will be strong enough to hold you. In that sense, love, letting someone really know you, is indeed risky. But definitely worth it.
I always used to play off Valentine's day as "that Hallmark holiday," that day when it was culturally prescribed to tell your sweetie you loved them and wondered why we needed a day for that. What's wrong with the other 364 days a year?
But now, I get it. Do we ask why Thanksgiving exists? Can we forget about being thankful on the other 364 days a year? No. But Thanksgiving is a day to remember and to celebrate everything we are thankful for. In a way, Valentine's day is the same - a day to remember how fortunate we are to have loved ones in our lives.
So this Valentine's day, celebrate those in your life who have risked themselves, who have opened up themselves to you, and celebrate your risk in opening up to them. With your friends, your family, and your sweetie - celebrate being each other's bungee cord.
This month's 'Go ahead honey, it's gluten free' theme is sweets for your sweetheart and hosted by Kelly at the Spunky Coconut. My entry is the following recipe for gluten-free, dairy-free, and low sugar fudge. Most fudge calls for sweetened condensed milk, which is no good for those avoiding dairy and sugar. I realized that condensing coconut milk isn't all that hard and works just as well! The only sugar in the recipe is whatever sugar happens to be in the chocolate.
Other great Valentine's day treats:
Gluten-free, dairy-free, low sugar chocolate fudge bites:
This is a ridiculously easy, and fast, chocolate treat and variations are endless. You can dust these with powdered sugar, unsweetened cocoa powder, sea salt, ground nuts, finely shredded coconut... You can also add things to the mix like dried fruit or peppermint extract. I encourage you to make them according to your heart's desires! I made these individual serving size to share, but you can also pour the mix into an 8x8 square pan (pre-greased or lined) and cut into cubes.
12 ounces dark or semi-sweet chocolate (I used Guittard semi-sweet chocolate chips, one bag)
1 cup full fat coconut milk
Heat milk in a small saucepan over medium heat until it begins to boil. Reduce heat to the warmer end of medium-low and simmer, stirring frequently, until milk has reduced and thickened (about 10 minutes). Set aside.
Place the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave for about 2 minutes, then stir until bowl begins to cool. If chocolate is still not entirely melted, heat in short bursts of 20-30 seconds until smooth.
Pour milk into the chocolate and stir. The mixture will begin to toughen up at this point, but keep stirring until evenly blended and smooth. Add any add-ins here.
Either pour into a well-greased or parchment-lined 8x8 pan or pour by tablespoon-full into aluminum muffin cups (shake them a bit to evenly distribute the chocolate). Dust with your choice of topping(s). Refrigerate until firm.
Share with your loved ones!