For the most part, I scoff and shake my head. Sometimes I even throw in an eye-roll for good measure. My ex used to joke about me being unfeeling because I'd laugh at emotional scenes on television or in movies. It's not that I have a rock under my ribcage. It's because, to me, that love isn't real. It's forced. It's contrived. It's Hollywood's way of giving us unrealistic expectations.
Don't get me wrong. People can be loving and caring. People can make the 'grand gesture'. Women (and men) the world over get swept off their feet daily. People are content. Hell, people are even happy.
But from personal experience, from years of being not only an active participant but a silent observer, love is a hard thing to find and an even harder thing to hold on to.
The beginning. We love the beginning. If life could be filled with only the beginning of falling in love we would all be a lot happier. It's sweet. It's fun. It's romantic. Oh, so romantic. We are blinded by the other person, completely consumed by them. We would walk across broken glass to feel their fingers butterfly over our cheek. Things are easy.
And we make promises. Promises we can't keep. We tell them we will love them forever, that they're the only one for us, and we say will always be there for them.
Things change though. Times get harder. Hurdles are set up in our paths. We stumble, we fall, we reach out in hopes of being helped up and find ourselves grasping at only air. We come home grumpy. We let the stress of our jobs screw with the contents of our hearts. We draw ourselves a bath and hang our heads and cry.
And we start wondering what it is we are doing. We start wondering who the person lying next to us each night. Some of us will try to change them, to mould them into the person we need them to be and completely ignore the person they actually are. The person we fell in love with, the flaws that endeared us to them, are no longer good enough.
And the romance fades. For some reason, it always seems to be the first thing to go. Probably because we're too busy, too preoccupied, too consumed with some ridiculous reality television show on TLC. Then, one night, we are laying in bed next to the person we're supposed to love and this crushing feeling of being alone swallows us whole. You want to press yourself up against them, wake them up, and tell them you're lonely, that you just want to be held. But you don't, because you aren't sure how they would react to being roused from sleep.
Loneliness is hard to shake.
I know my ideas of love are skewed. I don't believe there is one person out there for me. I don't believe in true love. I don't believe in happily-ever-afters. And I certainly don't think love at first sight exists. I don't think we're destined to meet people. Even more so, I sincerely doubt whether or not I'm cut out to be in love. I don't function well in relationships.
But the simple truth is, I'm a hopeless romantic. Terribly so. I dream of all-consuming love. The love where you get lost in someone. A love where you wouldn't want to be anywhere else. Where you know the person you're with and they know you. A love beyond words.
Lately, I've been feeling romantic. When a hush settles on the world and it feels as though every soul is sleeping, I entertain the 'what-ifs'. I imagine loving and being loved. It's not the countless days spent in bed that appeal to me. It's having someone in my corner, trusting they have my back when no one else seems to. Someone to count on, someone to appreciate, someone to laugh over the silly stuff with and cry over the sad things with. Someone to give to and someone to take from. Someone to respect. Someone to trust. And someone to kiss me properly.
We all have hurt, I'm not unique in mine. We've all been in love and had it crushed. Things fall apart. We grow and change, and sometimes the person we're with doesn't grow and change with us. Sometimes we have to leave behind the ones we love in order to be happy, no matter how much it hurts at the time. Most of us have baggage, and all of us know heartache. I'm not alone in how I feel. Love is hard. Love is messed up. At times it isn't pretty. At times it isn't easy. And sometimes it's so painful we wonder why we even do it.
Despite all of that, we keep looking for it and we try and try again. Why? Because being in love is the best feeling in the world. We'd rather have a moment of love than not experience it at all. And besides, there's always that question tickling the back of our minds. What if?
See, I'm not bitter or uncaring. I'm not jaded. I'm not angry or sad or hard or broken.
I'm just a wary romantic.