And, to my delight and surprise, it was FUN!
Maybe it's because they were writers. Cartoonists, copywriters, fantasy and poets. Creative people with creative appetites for conversation and food; our age ranges spanned from twenty-something to sixty-something.
Which of course, because we're writers, gave us an idea. We would each write about what romance means to us; little essays informed by our generational differences.
If you'd asked me what romance meant when I was in my twenties I would have given you flowery descriptions; allusions of being whisked away to somewhere warm with the waves crashing below my window like a metaphor for the amazing sex I would have been too shy to describe.
There would have been exotic fruit, laughter, lots of champagne and eye contact. I would have tried and failed to put into words the feeling of giddiness that's like spinning in circles until you collapse in a giggling heap on the floor.
After my children were born my vision of romance shifted, as though each birth was a mini-earthquake with the power to shake up and redefine language.
Romance was my husband getting up at 5:00 in the morning when the babies cried so I could sleep in.
It was dinners eaten at child-friendly hours so we could all be together. Looks of wonderment exchanged across the table over the heads of laughing toddlers. The question passing back and forth between the adults in the room, how is it possible that we created a place where our hearts are so full?
Lately, I've realized my definition of romance has morphed again. This time the shift has been slower, but like global warming, its effects can already be felt.
My notions of romance have become intertwined with the concepts of freedom and deep understanding born from quiet scrutiny.
The ability to say and do anything without fear of being judged. To have someone who is both a friend and the calm repository for all my wacky ideas. A person who makes me laugh while I'm brushing my teeth and, who knows me well enough to convince me to slow down, leave the lights off, look out the window at the setting sun while we share our secrets and feel grateful that somehow, through the teeming masses of humanity, we found each other.
Maybe the true magic of romance is located in its ability to shift and glide, changing slightly through each decade until, like a good bottle of wine, it becomes a thing that is perfectly aged.