Merriam-Webster.com defines "romance" as "an emotional attraction or aura belonging to an especially heroic era, adventure, or activity." This is how I describe my feelings when I'm in a fantastical environment or when I find something particularly stirring that has no real foundation in reality.
Friday night, Steve and I went to Linder's Garden Center on Larpenteur near Rice Street. It was just as the sun was going down. We hadn't been there in over a year, which is unusual for me, being the plant maven that I am. If you've never been there, Linders is in a fairly undeveloped area smack in the middle of Saint Paul. Across Larpenteur is a marshy zone. All around are treed hills. Behind the greenhouse proper is the garden where all of the trees and plants for sale are, where all of their water features reside. Friday night, just as the sun was going down on a warm summer's day, surrounded by gurgling streams and fountains, topiaries and exotically colored fronds, and eccentric statuary of all kinds, I was transported.
For the half hour we were there, just at closing time, it was magical. Golden light poured through the trees, illuminating others. The air was stirred by gentle breezes. There were also darned few people there (the ones who were seemed frantic). We wandered amidst the foliage and concrete sculptures speaking quietly and seldom.
I describe the calm I feel in such environs and situations as "romantic." There is a pull I feel in my heart, not toward simpler times when humanity may (or may not) have lived in supposed harmony with nature, but toward a placidity that appears wholly absent in our modern world.
I have this experience when I read or write too, though less frequently in film. We watched Hellboy II last night and, while there is little that is not loud, violent, or harsh about it, there are moments of that fantastical romance that so alters my thoughts and feelings. I think that it's the notion that there is a whole unknown world next to (or beneath) the one in which I live.
I sometimes feel like I get glimpses into that other world. When I do, time stops. The things I see are more real. They become indelible in my mind and memory. My breathing changes, I inhale more deeply. Colors are more vivid. There's always a sense of quiet or tranquility.
I think that this is why I have had so many plants, why the lamp in my living room looks like an antique gas street lamp. There was a time when I would have described how this makes me feel as "pagan" but that word has connotations of religion.
The stirrings I feel are not religious (or spiritual, for the two words are synonyms and different by connotation, not definition). There isn't a deity in those feelings. It's just romance for me, but the feelings are deep and not without their power.
Perhaps that's just semantics?