Gazing into the mirror of the women’s restroom, I carefully wipe the mascara from beneath my eyes. “Should’ve worn waterproof,” I think, “Rookie mistake.” I notice that beside me an older woman with tidy hair is also ridding herself of the incriminating black trails. Good heavens, had we just survived some unspeakable disaster together? Nope. We, and the 25 other women waiting in line for one of the two bathroom stalls in this movie theater, had all fallen victim to a dastardly farce, otherwise known as: THE ROMANTIC MOVIE.
As intelligent humans, we should be able to create our own perception of what a relationship looks like, with variations as dynamic and infinite as the complexity of humankind itself. Imagine… What was once an infinitesimal cell is now a walking, talking, emoting machine, the likes of which even Asimov couldn’t have created! And yet, up on the big screen, a scruffy young man builds a house for his lost beloved, and we are brought to our collective knees. Lovely, dainty princesses with enormous doe-eyes fall desperately into love at first sight, over and over again, and we can’t get enough. Living happily ever after has become the ultimate goal of every little girl trapped in adult women’s hearts. (That, on top of shapely legs paired with an eerily teeny waist and seemingly no areolas.)
Society dictates how we should look, speak, act and love. Even those who are in happy, loving relationships find themselves with welling eyes and aching hearts when faced with Hollywood-perfect romances. Somehow, we are left yearning for something we’ve never had. Kissing in the rain, running across a war torn landscape into each other’s arms, a small mishap followed by sitting in a rainy window missing each other desperately until, ultimately, we are reunited and joyfully married.
Remember when your mommy soothed you after a sweaty nightmare, brought on by one too many scary movies? You drifting back to sleep as she lovingly reminds you that none of it is real? And so it goes for the ROMANTIC MOVIE. Please allow my cool hands to brush the hair away from your damp temples, as you slowly realize that love looks different to everyone, and NONE of it looks exactly like the movies.
When looking over the vast catalog of cinematic romances, the one theme that seems to carry throughout, from Titanic to Bridges of Madison County, is the idea of longing. Even dating back to more than four hundred years ago, one of our most revered and studied authors, William Shakespeare, knew what was up: we want our love with an ache. That, “Oh my god, I almost lost you my darling,” pull on the heartstrings that keeps the attraction fresh. What we seem to forget in the daily hubbub of pumping gas and getting groceries, is that we are ALL always almost losing each other.
Some of us come face to face with the tenuous hold we have on life through close call accidents and scary CAT scans, or as in my case, a fiancé with Type One diabetes. Although many people would see loving someone with a chronic illness as difficult or stressful, those of us blessed to be in such a relationship also have the precious gift of constantly being aware of the delicate nature of life. Further, people who live with a disease day in and day out don’t have the luxury of taking their time for granted.
In my relationship, our love is built on trust, understanding, individual freedom and our ability to listen to each other. The bonus of being with my fiancé is HIS outlook on life. He cares about living creatures and sees them all as equally important. Every time one of our houseplants gets a new bud or flower, he calls me over to admire it. There is no situation too serious, no argument too strong, that he cannot relieve with a perfectly timed joke. He lives truly in the moment, and because of this, so do I. Yeah, he starts sneezing and I think it’s the start of a deadly pneumonia and every blood test could show liver malfunction, but I never, ever forget how lucky we are to have each other.
I guess my point is, try not to worry about what your relationship SHOULD look like, just feel how it feels to you. Do you feel loved? Do you laugh? Is there trust? Look at your partner and remember the delicate nature of humanity, rather than shying away from it. It is, in fact, this tenuousness that is the very beauty of humanity and our particular gift of sharing love. Every single one of us has the capacity to love with our entire beings. In fact, I believe that is what our souls are meant to do. So go tell Nicholas Sparks to take a hike and cuddle up to your beloved, and try to remember that we only have so much time on this tiny, gigantic and beautiful world, so let’s not waste it wishing we had someone else’s definition of a fairy tale.