There’s something that you need to understand about the great love stories that you read about and that you hear about and that you see in the movies.
They’re wishful and wistful bits of imagination crafted by people who have had quite a few love stories in their life, none of which have lasted past that initial rush of feeling. They’re the people out in Hollywood where there’s a divine new love story every few years. Most don’t last. Because after the love story is the stuff that comes after the love story. Which doesn’t have quite the same rush. And which feels all wrong because it’s not as intense as it was when you just met them. And real love should feel more intense, not less.. Right?
I don’t have a great love story with the man that I’ll be spending my life with, Alex. Aka “Daddy”. Although parts of our relationship can be told that way, like a great love story.
I fell in love with him when I was seventeen. He didn’t love me back. I never fell out of love with him. And it was very intense (for me) and not so intense (for him) and then there was the time we briefly came together where we both felt everything so very deeply. There was this one kiss in the rain under a tree that I will remember for the rest of my life. Mostly because we were young and stupid and naive and it was a mental image that I held onto for a long time like a piece of comfort when we were torn apart shortly after that for a year and a half.
A few moments early on could be extracted and put into a movie if we glossed over a lot of other details. We grabbed each others hands and swung around in circles in a subway station while I laughed, afraid that he’d let go of my hands and send me flying. I think we ended up hugging instead. Maybe that would go well in a movie. In a movie we’d have definitely ended up hugging. And maybe declaring love for each other there. Instead of my telling him later and being met with awkward silence and the truth which broke my heart for a while. That scene would have been cut. Or maybe not. Maybe it would add to the poignancy of us later falling truly deeply madly in love for a little while at least. Before we reverted into the lukewarm stuff that happens after the “happily ever after” part of Hollywood love stories.
Now the early intensity has worn off and we’ve settled into a life that is composed of many other types of details that don’t look like what you’d see in a movie. We’re consumed with sleeplessness, and small non-romantic child-oriented details. We make each other tea when we’re sick. We bicker over little things. We are learning to balance ourselves with each other. But for now we do a lot of things that feel like the simple sharing of space. And sometimes I look over at him sitting next to me in bed, and I’ll see him for who he is. Flaws and all. And I’ll know he sees me for who I am. Flaws and all. And sure, it was more comfortable back at the beginning of our relationship when all those things were masked by “love” which makes you blind.
It’s not often that the blind are unhappy to recover their sight. But that’s what happens with love. That which made you blind fades away. And then you learn to love what you see. Or you break up with that person and try again. And again. And again. Because somewhere out there is a love so brilliantly dazzling that it will poke your eyes out permanently.
No thanks. I’ll take this type of love.
It’s tempting sometimes to say “THIS ISN’T WHAT I WANTED OUT OF LIFE!” and wish for all those romantic things that society has conditioned me to want. The flowers (that I don’t actually like because they’re dead things in a vase.), the anniversary presents (that will never be exactly what I want or exactly how they want. Or I’ll wish that they were like last year. Maybe he loved me last year because last year he did something more special than this year. And it’s like this never ending arms race of special). Or maybe I want him to be more interested in spending 100% of his time with me instead of ever playing that video game of his. Because nothing says true love like undying obsession.
During those times I think back to the true great love story that I have in my life.
You see… I do have a great love story in my life. An erratic love story with many breakups and reunions. A love story with a man who watched too many Hollywood movies and who never managed to figure out how to do something permanent because when that rush wore off it was something that needed to be recovered otherwise it didn’t feel like love. And his type of love was the type of love that demanded I be a Hollywood starlet. Which I wasn’t. The type of true love that had to burn bright at all times and which broke up repeatedly with me because it didn’t burn brightly enough. And then it burned brighter and we came back together in a beautiful movie like moment that was entirely… Unstable. Yes. That’s the word for what that True Great Love Story was. Unstable. It was the type of love story which made me go looking elsewhere for the type of love story that I was really looking for.
The type of love where you drift apart and come back together. The type of love story where we can fart in front of each other and laugh. The type of love story which is comfortable. The type of love story where we’re best friends and can talk about anything. Not just the deeply impersonal things that new love bonds over. But really anything. The boring and mundane. The annoying. The difficult. The types of things that aren’t difficult with new love because we were too busy being all giddy.
The type of love where if we need some excitement in our lives we’ll go skydiving together. You know. When you kids are more grown up and we have the time. And where we can go all these years of sleep deprivation with all of you as little ones. And we can look back on it and be like “holy wow. We did that together.” And where we sometimes might go a while without having a real conversation, but we’ll come back to it and it will feel like no time at all had passed.
The other day I was whispering to Little Miss One that one day she’ll find someone who makes her happy. And I realized that. No. She won’t. You won’t. One day you will find someone whose existence makes you happy. But will that person “make her happy”? Has my Alexxen “made me happy”? No. Another person can never be accountable for your happiness. Never should be.
Real love is where you share happiness, just like you share a life and a family. Not where one person is the source of your happiness.
That’s a Hollywood love story. Not something real.
Look for the real, not the story. The story ends and credits roll. The real continues on.
This continues on. And this is a lovely hodgepodge mishmash of things that no director can cut into something perfect and that no one will take out moments for if they fail to develop the plot.
In any other letter I’d come up with some sort of way to tie this all together.
Not this one. This one doesn’t end. I’m not going to tie this letter up or make it into a neat package. I’m not going to end it neatly. No credits roll.
Written in celebration of the “Boring” Relationship after reading this:
Seriously. Don’t run after me in an airport. If I’m leaving I’m not worth it. And if you’re leaving I’m not running after you either. Adults don’t pull that shit.