The death of romance...
WHERE WERE WE?
Relationships are like pets:
At first, you're amused, enthralled, and intrigued. You can't believe how great and cute your pet is. You want to spend all your time playing with it.
The more you get to know your pet, the more you're enamoured. You are attentive to your pet's needs, and even start to trust it around your shoes.
As time increases, you and your pet reach a comfort level. You know exactly how your pet feels at any given time, what it likes, and what makes its fur fly. You come to an understanding with your pet. You are at one.
If you nurture your relationship with your pet, it will only grow stronger. You and your pet will enhance each other's lives in a way that no one else will. But if you neglect it, take it for granted, or buy other pets, the relationship will falter, and ultimately you'll get bitten on the ass or pissed on the leg.
Or, to put it in a less vulgar way, relationships are a two-way street, and you won't get much out of it if you insist on driving in the wrong lane. If there's anything I learned this year, it's that it's all about the compromise. You can't turn lemons into lemonade if you don't even have the lemons.
I've saved this article for last because I had no idea what I was going to talk about. It seemed like I had a lot more to say when I was single. I panicked. Was this the end of my column? Did I turn into a Stepford Girlfriend, with no opinions, feelings, or thoughts?
Well, of course not.
Just because I'm in a relationship doesn't mean that I've lost my voice (or mojo, which I coincidentally doubled - heh). Which got me to thinking about past relationships, and the way they shaped my life. The convention is that each meaningful relationship in your life affects who you are as a person, but I've always secretly thought that relationships didn't make a person, they just steered them in different directions - sometimes good, and sometimes bad. I did learn fundamental life lessons from the relationships I've had, but do I think I'd be any different if I didn't live through them? Not really. If you become jaded and angry because of a bad relationship, maybe it's not the relationship that made you this way; maybe you were predisposed to jaded and angry feelings all along. When someone describes a person, they use words like "funny," "meticulous," "wacky," or "quiet." Obviously, a relationship can't turn a serious person into a comedian, or a sloppy person into a neat one.
But alas, this is where my hypocrisy comes in. Because I've often said that "romance is dead," and that wasn't always the case. I'm no less romantic than the next Hugh Grant movie, but I don't exactly believe that Prince Charming will pull up in his sensible, yet stylish car, and whisk me off to an all-you-can-eat-buffet, if you know what I mean.
I grew up on the whole Cinderella story. I watched Pretty Woman ten times. I looked out my window at night and wondered if he was looking at the same stars. But I'm a realist, not an idealist, and so I stopped believing in fairy tales. I went through relationships, some good, and some bad. I learned when to cry and when to turn away. I chose when to fight and when to let go. I guess that's why romance died for me. Because you don't see these kind of things in Harlequin novels or the Women's Network movies-of-the-week. You see a smooth ride and a happy ending, and you want it too.
A friend once called me a survivor because I seemed like the type of girl that bounced back from relationships in five minutes flat. And while I've been known to do that, I haven't always been that strong (or in denial, whichever one suits better). To me, it wasn't letting go of a relationship, it was letting go of a person, and it never got easier the more I went through it. I admit, the older I became, the stronger my hypothetical armour got.
When I first started dating Bee, I was hesitant to dive into anything. But it helped that he was charming, and smart, and told me fairy tales at night. But the more I fell for him, the more I felt I was out of my element. It was like diving off a board after only one swimming lesson. And you know how I hate physical activity.
In my own ways, I used little tactics to keep my armour up. I never spoke of the future past the weekend. I carefully chose what to say, and when to say it. I never assumed things, although I knew that they were perfectly okay to assume. That's not to say that I wasn't myself, or that I didn't put effort into the relationship, or that I was trying to hide a part of myself from him. I just tried to jump in with both eyes open, but all the while, perhaps I was the one that was closing my eyes.
Six months in, and it's like I've just met him. Our relationship isn't a fairy tale - it's better than that. We have our ups and downs, our arguments, our little moments of drama queen-ness. But I'll tell you why it's better than a Disney cartoon: because it's real. It feels genuine to me, and when I look into his eyes, my world is clearer. We don't have the petal-strewn bed or the trips to Paris. Sometimes we spend hours just sitting in his room, trying to see who can bore the other person more. But would I ask for anything more? You know, there's only so much romance you can take. Romance doesn't kiss you good night or talk you out of putting a staple in your boss' head or tell you that you have something in your teeth. Romance isn't a concrete thing that you can add or remove in a relationship. If you've found the right person, it'll always be there, just manifested in different ways.
Bee once said to me, "I like that you said that romance is dead, because then I get to prove you wrong."
And he did. ¤ C.Ho.
Next month: Christine tries out for "Elimidate" and, upon rejection, punches out a cameraman.