I spent last weekend in Colorado attending a celebration of my late grandma’s life. One of the best parts about this weekend-long event was being able to discover even more about my grandparents through stories and memorabilia. One particular instance that stands out in my mind: my grandpa used to write my grandma beautiful love letters over the years (many of which were saved and I had the great fortune of reading). These weren’t your average “u complete me” high school love notes; they were “The Notebook” level confessions of love.
Now a lot of my close friends probably read the title of this post and thought in an exasperated voice “Closeted romantic? YEAH, OKAY.” *insert eye roll here*. My friend Hallie always jokes that I’m going to meet my soulmate while carrying bags of groceries; the bottoms of the bags will give out all at once, and as I frantically try to pick up the contents, a dashing man will come to my aid. The rest is history *cue wedding bells*.
Whenever I hear her talk about this scenario, I give a laugh, respond with a wistful “yeah, wouldn’t that be nice?” and then we move on. The truth is, that thought lingers in my head much longer than I am ever willing to admit — that is, until now.
But before I present you all with my heart served up on a silver platter, let me back up. I think there are a couple factors that have kept me from ever wanting to come forward and openly confess my desire for the blockbuster movie-style love — the love I found while reading those letters between my grandparents, that significant, life-changing kind of love.
– Heartbreak and dating in this city has made me jaded. Or at least, has made me put up the front of being jaded, unaffected and apathetic. It’s much easier to be that than the other thing. Real emotions? Forget ’em. They make messes much too hard and stubborn to clean. No one has time for that.
– Fear. Fear of judgment: of being considered “desperate”, of coming across as less “strong” or “independent”. Fear that someone will find this and read it and get the wrong impression of who I am. Wouldn’t it be safer to just lock these thoughts away for another five years?
– The entertainment industry has an interesting way of presenting the hopelessly romantic woman. Think Charlotte York, Leslie Knope and Mindy Lahiri. Successful, beautiful, beloved, but with a twist of neurosis.
Not in a bad way, per se, but more in a “gotta learn to love you” sort of way. And if I tried to claim that I didn’t possess an ounce of my own neurosis, my roommate Tyler would call bullshit in the comments. I’m human and I love the characters listed above because they reflect these human qualities that exist within all of us, whether we like it or not. Taylor Swift got it right with her empowering music video for “Blank Space”; we are always so concerned about being “that” girl: overly dramatic, emotional, controlling, manipulative.
But what happens when we address all of this head on, rather than hide behind some sort of false “cool girl” guise? So finally, here I am, taking a stand on behalf of myself and all the other folks who believe there’s more out there for them than just “Netflix and chill”.
I think about meeting “Mr. Right” a lot of the time, but it’s rarely in a conscientious way. I have a pretty active imagination, so one fleeting glance from a stranger on the subway starts the story: “We met on the subway — locked eyes, just for a moment…”. Before I know it, I’ve written chapter one in my head just as he exits the train at his stop. This stream of thought isn’t exclusive to subways or handsome strangers; it happens in cafes, planes, busy city streets, and can be initiated by a simple song, movie, conversation, or passage in a book. It’s an unconscious yearning that is so deeply a part of who I am; engrained in me to the point that I have recognized it can’t be changed. But why should it? I’ve realized that this dream of romance, of one day being in a loving and committed relationship, isn’t a shameful thing. I get weak in the knees when I watch John Cusack hold that boombox over his head, or hear Chris Martin sing Green Eyes (I am also a closeted Coldplay fan, please no one hold this against me either). And being honest about it (starting with this blog post), is so cathartic and freeing.
I’m still having fun because being a romantic and casually dating aren’t mutually exclusive. I know this period of exploration, meeting new people, trial and error, is crucially important to getting to know myself (and what I want) better. I, like so many people, am the mixed up combination of both. For every bad date, fizzled out flame, and romantic misstep, I am getting closer to finding my next great love, which makes the journey all the more worthwhile.