I’ve been thinking about love. Love the way it is shown in so many of the films and novels that I see and read every year. The kind of love that is all-encompassing, that far surpasses everything else in its breathtaking beauty. The kind of love that it seems every girl or woman dreams of having. Doesn’t she? Whether she is six, twenty-six, fifty-six or any age in between, every one of us seems to have this deep desire for a love that can survive anything. Well, that’s what popular culture tells us, anyway.
I thought that I was somehow immune to this desire. I dismissed this type of passionate love as something that only happens in stories and films and told myself that I was content with what the real world could give me. But over several recent sleepless nights I began to wonder.
Sure, I laugh at stories like Romeo and Juliet and the all-consuming love of couples like Bella and Edward from Twilight or Noah and Allie from The Notebook. After all, love doesn’t happen like that. Isn’t love something that grows over time? A strong bond between people who know each other, who connect on that basic level that no one can truly describe. Something like that can’t happen overnight. Can it? Popular culture would have us believe that it can, would have us believe in love at first sight and being swept off our feet (see this Wikipedia article).
On the outside, I am a confirmed sceptic.
But somewhere inside me lies a hopeless romantic who grins like an idiot whenever everything works out perfectly at the end. The hopeless romantic in me succumbs to stories like Tangled (which is fine until you realise they’ve only known each other a day or two), She’s All That (where the ‘ugly’ nerd is revealed to be prom queen material), and Moulin Rouge! (though it doesn’t exactly have a happy ending). The hopeless romantic within pinned this quote on my bedroom wall:
It matters not if you are here, or there, for I see you before me every moment… You are the blood in my veins, and the beating of my heart. You are my first waking thought, and my last sigh before sleeping. You are bone of my bone, breath of my breath.
(From Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier.)
There is nothing like a great romance (no matter how short-lived) to bring tears to my eyes and a silly grin to my face. Watching others fall in love makes me feel as if that all-consuming, world shattering type of love is something I can have. Maybe that is the secret. Reading or watching the great romances of others instils us with the hope that one day the same thing might happen to us. And yet…
Perhaps I lie somewhere in between: a sceptic and a romantic all at once. I do love a good romance, a grand story where the characters are willing to sacrifice everything (even their own lives) for the sake of love. However, the novels I like the best, the romances I find the most believable, are those where a bond develops over time. Where the grand love is based on a foundation of compatibility, trust and companionship.
It is this type of love that I can happily allow myself to believe in. After all, it seems so much more realistic than the possibility of meeting some dark stranger, falling in love at first sight, and being swept away to a beautiful castle… No, I am content with the kind of love the real world can give me, the type of love you have to work for and build from the ground up. Because the thought of a love like that brings a smile to my face, no theatrics required.