We all want a love story. We all want to emulate that romance novel heroine and be rescued or ravaged by our hero. I look around my friends, people I know, people I just know of and I see these stories; the tales of loves lost and seemingly regained over time in another lifetime because of some form of serendipity or fate. Sometimes when I hear of these stories I smile with the same smile of enjoyment, entertainment along with a pinch of envy that I do when I see some chick flick when the hero and heroine walk off into the sunset together, while at the same time thinking, ‘it all seems very nice, but come on! what is the ‘real’ story?’
I never thought of myself as such a cynic. I thought I was open to the world, but I realise that that might not just be untrue but also unfair to suggest that I am one or the other: either open to the world or a cynic. And perhaps I am neither. Perhaps my view of the world is a case of nature versus nurture.
It is in our nature as humans to crave companionship, to mate. It is in my nurture to surround myself with a warm and welcoming family just as the one I had. It is in my nature to emulate the world around me and the world around me is all talk of this deep, soul shattering, life defining love, while I was nurtured in the arms of a smooth and comfortable love built on mutual respect and mutual attraction and a joint vision for their future. There were no fireworks or lightning bolts. There was light on and off, before my parents met and when they got married. To be clear, my parents love each other deeply, 40 years deeply, but their love did not stem from the tales of Danielle Steel or Jackie Collins, theirs was a meeting at a Jewish youth movement, an invitation to a birthday party, an engagement, a marriage and a family.
What is wrong with that? Why is that not enough? Why do we feel so inadequate if we don’t have a big love story? Most big love stories are doomed to fail. All the passion and crazy ups and downs are near impossible to contain into a stable relationship. Changing nappies and paying bills are hardly the things of romance novels. In fact that is usually where the lead character is standing, up to his/her knees in family poop, when they decide to run away and have a passionate affair with the sexy Latino dance instructor.
What are love stories then? The memories or stories we tell ourselves when we are knee-deep in poop? In that case can we all have experienced a love story at some point in our lives, it’s just the way you tell it? Or is this type of love saved only for the lucky few to experience that kind of love that never dies. (The cynic in me just vomited in her mouth a little).
It’s not just for women by the way. The guys I know, holding on to this one great love are actually far worse than my romance hungry girlfriends. These men use some love they once lost as an excuse for why they can not seem to meet anyone else, while in the same breath referring to these great loves as “spoilt bitches”, “psycho bitches from hell”, “evil cows”… Friend, get yourself some therapy and move on or grab a pair and try to win the “crazy bitch” back!
And while I can sit here and say that I have had at least one great love in my life, I would not necessarily say that that love was the product of a great love story. The two are very different. And when great love stories always seem tied in with the heartbreak of one of the protagonists or any of the characters unfortunate to be caught up in this whirlwind of said love story, it makes me wonder why is this something we would want to be a part of anyway! This being under the assumption that we have not already been apart of our own great love story and not yet realised it.
Yes I would like to be romanced, I am a girl. Yes I would like to feel like ours is this amazing love that could last through the ages, or at least until one of us dies. Yes I would like a man with passion, a man who excites me, but doesn’t abuse me. Yes I would like to run off into the sunset together, but still stop off on the way for happy hour with our mates. I love the idea of being able to tell our grandchildren the love story of how we met, but then to them our finding each other on Facebook will seem as romantic as my grandfather writing my grandmother love letter from the trenches.
The truth is, most of us do not have great love stories, but great loves… now I think everyone should have at least one of those!
This piece is dedicated to my beautiful friend, the ultimate romantic, who always believed in love through it all and whom I will admire for it forever. And I will treasure every email we shared through the love story of her life!