When I was in my early 20’s, I read my fair share of Jane Green and Nora Roberts romance novels. I was still searching for Mr. Right and had convinced myself that I, too, would find love like the characters in the books. I had it all planned out: I would be walking in a park one day and a big, slobbery dog would knock me over and out. When I came to, there would be a dreamy man leaning over me, helping me up off of the ground. Our eyes would lock and we’d fall instantly in love. We’d never fight and would both have successful careers that allowed us to galavant around the world on a whim. There was one major flaw with my fantasy, however: I have never taken a walk in a park by myself without having a destination in mind. Plus, I didn’t have a high-powered career. Despite these hiccups, I held fast to my dreams.
On our first date, my now-husband and I had all the hallmarks of a romance novel, although there weren’t any dogs involved (we rescued those later). We saw a shooting star. We walked on the beach. I found $20 on the ground. We saw fireworks (literally – it was the Fourth of July). In the early days, hubs spent two hours driving around town looking for the perfect Greek salad for me and I cooked him a gourmet dinner. It was straight out of a Nora Roberts book.
Sounds great, right? I think so, too, but I suppose now’s a good time to tell you that I also found my husband on Myspace. I was moving to a new town and messaged a few random people who lived there – he was the only one who responded. I thought he’d have cute friends and he figured it’d be good karma to be nice to the new girl in town, and we assumed we’d meet and go our separate ways. And while our first date was pretty magical, it wasn’t a romance novel. During our first two weeks of dating, I nicked a trash can with my rearview mirror, had to ask him to install my air filter, and took a nose-dive in my fancy red patent leather stilettos on a cobbled street, ripping my jeans open and getting laughed at by the people at the bus stop. Oh, and that gourmet dinner I cooked him? It was pasta primavera and I threw away the curly parts of the asparagus because I had never cooked it before (not that he pointed this out – I thought it was like celery). As for the two hours it took hubs to find my Greek salad, it turns out he got hung up with some friends. Lastly, with regard to the $20 I found, hubs still maintains that it was his money that I found and we are debating it to this day.
My point is that life isn’t a romance novel. Almost six years later, we’ve had some incredibly magical moments. We’ve also been through two major surgeries, 5 moves, and graduate school. If I could go back to my 22-year old self, I would warn her that true love has little to do with the magical rush in the early days, but a lot to do with how you weather the storm when the hard parts of life are thrown at you. It’s about comprise and learning when to give in. It’s about both losing yourself and not losing yourself. It’s about overcoming obstacles and relishing in the ease and comfort of a solid relationship. It’s about tuning out the naysayers and doing what is right for the two of you. It’s about finding a man who will buy you books (okay, maybe that’s just me). And sometimes, it’s just about finding someone just as goofy as you are.
In short, it’s nothing like a romance novel. It’s better. Much better.