HAVING BEEN SEPARATED for almost a year, I'm probably the last guy you should be turning to for counsel on matters of the heart. I'm not sure I've got all that much to offer in the way of valuable insight, but if I've learned one thing for sure, it's this:
Don't underestimate romance.
That may seem like frivolous advice. But take it from someone who has learned the hard way: Romance is the fertile soil in which love grows. It is in the intimacy of romance that trust, desire, and selflessness can flower. Looked at another way, romance is love's warm coat. Without it, love is left unprotected and exposed to the elements.
And yet our culture trivializes romance at almost every opportunity. Romance is love's silly little brother, hardly worthy of our consideration. Bookstores and TV talk shows overflow with weighty discussions of love, while romance gets relegated to the Hallmark aisle. Is it any wonder that Valentine's Day has become one of the most transparently crass holidays of the year?
But even when we desire it, our expectations of romance are wholly unrealistic. Blame it on the movies or on the gauzy veil of our own memories, but we routinely act as though romance ought to flow naturally from a healthy relationship, instead of the other way around. If it doesn't spring forth magically, as if from Cupid's arrow, we dismiss it as some kind of unworthy charade. After all, we never had to work at romance when our love was new, right?
Nothing could be farther from the truth. Romance, even in those first blissful months, is always hard work. What we fondly remember as spontaneous was, in truth, choreographed to a remarkable degree. We spent hours plotting when to call, what to say, where to eat, what to reveal, what to hide, when to risk, and when to retreat. It was intoxicating precisely because we devoted ourselves to it so entirely.
Somewhere along the line, however, too many of us stop making that effort. Routines became established and before long, the idea of renewing that all that earlier effort became simply too much work.
That's a mistake I hope you won't make. Which is why this is an issue of 5280 that celebrates more than candy hearts and flowers.
Yes, we've got a bit of eye candy to help set the mood. For the fifth year, we've scoured the Mile-High City for Denver's sexiest singles. Our 20 picks are a fascinating bunch, ranging from architects and lawyers to a sommelier and a sports physiologist who trained last year's Tour de France champion. We've also got an A-to-Z guide on where to meet a mate in Denver.
This, however, is our Romance Guide, not match.com, so we also focus on what happens once you've found that special someone. We've got plenty of ideas for Denver dates that will light (or re-light) the flames of passion. But this issue's real emotional center begins on page 78, where six Colorado writers share remarkably thoughtful explorations of real love—and realize that it's worth the effort. We hope you will, too.
AS THIS ISSUE was being delivered to the printer, word came that the hard work of another courtship has paid off. After more than a year of wooing, Denver has been selected to host the 2008 Democratic National Convention. Just what does this budding romance between Democrats and the West mean for Colorado and the country? Stay tuned. Next month, we'll bring you an analysis of a strategy that is poised to change the nation's political landscape.
Daniel Brogan is 5280's editor and publisher.