And yes, I should have posted this last week instead of this week, in honor of Valentine's Day, but then again, maybe it will help with the disappointment after the holiday when we realize we don't live in a Hallmark card.
I am a hopeless romantic. Grammar Nazis will correct me to say hopeful, but I disagree. Hopeless because it's hopeless to convince me romance isn't alive and well in spite of all the heartbreak and disappointments in life.
We all remember that first blush of love. My first love was a card sender, a note writer (in case you were wondering how I came to idealize the mystique around emotion). The very first card he gave me, for no particular reason or holiday, said something to the effect of "I love every millisecond we spend together," among many other very sigh-worthy turns of the pen. I'm pretty sure he was 20 at the time, so this isn't little boy stuff. For Christmas, he bought me a floating heart necklace (with some help from his sister). It was story book stuff, I'm telling you.
The truth? People are flawed. Relationships are flawed. You have to work at them to make them work, and it takes the efforts of both parties. There comes a point when you have to block the negative emotional responses in order to support the positive ones.
In my later years, when my marriage was falling apart, I went in search of romance one more time. Aren't we all told we can live happily ever after, after all? Romance is out there - the storybook kind - but in real life it's more than hearts and flowers. The truth is that happily ever after is a state of mind you have to adopt all by yourself. No man (or woman) is responsible for providing that for you. I learned that lesson on my journey. So when the storybook romance ended, I worked on being happy with my own life, and what do you know? Prince Charming showed up.
Romance in real life isn't pretty. It's two people who are there for each other-emotionally. One hundred percent. Through the arguments, through failing health, on sunny vacations, and when we laugh at awkward times. Being silly together or being serious as warranted. Acceptance of each other's warts and idiosyncrasies.
I believe in love, I'm a hopeless romantic. And it's true. It's hopeless to tell me romance doesn't exist. Sometimes you need to shift your definition. Although chivalry and good manners play a part, true romance is thoughtfulness. Truly listening to each other. Connecting on a soul-deep level. NOT having to spend every waking hour together so that you can look forward to the times that you DO spend together. Knowing that special someone will "show up" for you.
So I'll keep writing romantic stories, because I do believe there are people who are meant to find each other, to be together. I like to create hopeful romantics through my writing, people who understand that even when life isn't pretty, there just might be someone out there who is willing to stand by your side.