I believe in romance.
Of course my definition of romance has changed radically over the years. The hopeless romantic of my youth associated the concept with long stem roses, candle lit dinners, and words of adoration. This romantic outlook was formed by Hollywood, in the dewy eyes of Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca, the romantic comedies of Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracey, and more modern repartee of Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks. Romance of this kind takes place in the right place, with the right words, and the right lighting.
Swept up in this gauzy imitation of life, I allowed myself to be swayed by the images of romance. My first crush knew what words to say, what settings to cast, and what flowers to send. But it didn’t take long to discover that honesty was not part of the package. As time went on, I continued to be drawn to the right script only to be disappointed by the lack of real plot in my own romantic encounters, until one day when I was faced with a scene that didn’t quite fit my Hollywood ideals.
I had begun a new relationship with a leading man who seemed miscast. He didn’t have the perfect leading man look, style, or disposition. But he made me laugh and feel comfortable in my own skin. On a beautiful moonlit night, with the stars sparkling in the lake of Upper Saranac, I could feel the tug of the Hollywood moment for that perfect line. Throwing caution to the wind, I put on my best Ingrid eyes and delivered the line, “I love you”. To which he responded…thanks.
Thanks? Thanks!?! That wasn’t in the script. At that moment I came crashing into all my assumptions about love and life. What now? If the emotion does not come back to you in the right line, do you walk away? But then what are you left with? I had experienced the right lines at the right times before, but those lines didn’t ring true. Those relationships didn’t make me feel like I was home. So did I want to leave this homey feeling, just because this man didn’t get his lines right? Can life really follow a script, or do we have to let go and let it take us in a direction unforeseen by the Hollywood scriptwriters?
I let go. I let go of the right place, the right lighting and the right words and discovered a new kind of romance. I may not get long stem roses, but I occasionally get a daisy from my backyard; I may not get fancy candle lit dinners, but I do get spaghetti cooked for me from time to time; and the words may not fall from a Hollywood script, but they are real and honest and from the heart… and occasionally, over the last twelve years of being together, they even say, I love you, too. That is real romance, it may not change the world but it changed my life and that I can believe in.
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