Sunday, May 29, 2011


I watched "Blue Valentine" the other night and it got the ol' cogs turning in my head. If you haven't watched it, I do recommend it. However, I recommend it with the caveat that you will probably be at least a little depressed by it. Oddly, it was refreshing for that very reason. The film industry (for the most part) has an annoying habit of taking the realness out of reality. The questions tend to not be difficult, the answers are absolute, and everyone walks away satisfied. "Blue Valentine" is definitely not that kind of movie. It's a movie about a relationship minus the fairy-tale romance aspect. It's honest and it's intimate and it really doesn't give a damn if anyone's terribly satisfied at the end. Watching the movie just brought up an age-old conversation I have with myself over the nature of romance. Yes, I have conversations with myself. Moving on...

I find that I am much more pragmatic than I was during my teenage years. This is by no means abnormal. At least, I hope it isn't. When I was a teenager, I believed in the idea of soul mates while simultaneously scoffing at the idea in public. My concept of love was intense, passionate, tragic, and certainly never anything short of dramatic. However, if that was truly the case in romantic relationships, we'd all be crying lines of eyeliner down our cheeks and writing terrible poetry 24/7. Reality has to creep in somewhere. And when it does creep in, that's when I think the true romance happens. It's easy to fall for an ideal. Ideals are shiny and beautiful and new all the time. They are what they are because you haven't obtained them, yet. The real work and the real love begins once you've obtained what you've idealized. For the purposes of this post, that ideal is your husband/wife/lover/partner.

The beginning of a relationship almost always has that butterflies-in-yer-stomach, gosh-everything's-magical aspect to it. You and the Object of Your Affection (OYA... like "oh yeahhhh"... heh) are still putting your best foot forward. You don't want your OYA to know that you snore or that you eat with your mouth open or that you save your toenails after you clip them or WHATEVER. You try to stifle the faults you're aware of and therefore present an ideal, and terribly untrue, version of yourself. However, the charade is awfully hard to keep up. Sooner of later, your OYA is going to see you picking your teeth or you're going to fart in his/her presence and the smoke and mirrors will vanish. When that happens, the real trial begins. This is when you find out what you're made of and you'd better hope there's a good foundation or you're toast.

To me, it is far more romantic to be able to look at your OYA when he/she has bed head and hasn't brushed his/her teeth and is wearing ratty old pajamas and you STILL think, "I really love this person." And the intense happiness that comes with knowing that your OYA feels the same way about you when you've spent the whole night snoring the house down and drooling all over your pillow is better than any Hollywood construct. The truth is, you will not be at your best all the time. Hell, I'm lucky if I'm at my best once a month. Scratch that and edit it to once a year. My husband is confronted with the worst of me often. He sees me when I'm hating myself and I just can't give a damn and he's still there, loving and accepting me. Screw Cinderella and Prince Charming and all of that other garbage. That love and that acceptance is what's going to see you through to your old age.

There will be drama and there will probably be tragedy in your lives but that's going to happen in between long stretches of the mundane and the routine. You will need something to sustain you through those long stretches. You will need to be able to laugh at yourselves, to recognize your faults, to be able to have arguments without falling apart, to be able to communicate and work together. You will need to be really damn good friends and have each other's backs. You will need to be able to look at your OYA at the end of a very difficult day and think to yourself that all that other bullshit isn't going to tear you apart because you have this person who will see you through it.

All of this is a far cry from my teenage perceptions of romance but it isn't unromantic, not to me. I think part of growing up is learning how to redefine things rather than abandoning them. I will never be a fairy princess or own a unicorn but I do have love in my life.

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