What is romance? What is romantic? And what differentiates real romance from flowery gestures?
Don't misunderstand me here. I'm a great big ol' softy for flowery gestures. I fucking love 'em. I melt for flowers, love notes, the random "I love you" text message and an evening spent in each other's arms. It's absolutely intoxicating. But intoxicating is exactly the right word here. It can lead to punch drunkenness. It can cause temporary and selective deafness, dumbness and blindness. It can lead you towards a life of compromised reality. That shit is like crack to a romantic like me. And now I find myself in Romance Rehab, trying desperately to separate the diamonds from the cubic zirconia. "Hi, I'm Miss-Adventures and I'm a romantic."
I love sweet little things like handwritten cards, candle light, unplanned sex in inappropriate places, sunsets, quiet dinners for two, hearts, love songs, chocolates, wine and silly pet names. By god, for six full months it was my goddamned religion. The entire apartment that Glamazon and I shared was once an altar to love. You couldn't swing a cat by the tail without knocking over some romantic relic. (And thankfully no one ever tried because I'd have to kill your animal-abusing ass for swinging my cat by the tail!) Fresh flowers were a regular fixture (once a week, to be exact), the sweetest handmade and handwritten cards adorned the fireplace mantle, photographs of a happy couple cluttered every shelf, and a collection of loving messages written every single day of our relationship on tiny Post-it Notes were framed and hung above our bed.
I'm not kidding about the Post-It Notes. My ex had this adorable habit of writing me the cutest little messages on a Post-It Note every single day, without fail. I would find them everywhere. I found them on my coffee cup in the morning and my cup of tea at night, I found them stuck to mirrors, I found them stuck to the refrigerator and I found them packed inside my lunches. I fucking loved them. I was convinced that they were proof that romance lived here. So I framed them because I couldn't possibly bring myself to throw away any gesture of love.
But when the rug got pulled out from under me, my altar was destroyed and my cathedral of love burned to the ground, it really got me thinking about what real romance is. I'm not going to say that Post-It Notes of sweet messages aren't really romantic or that I will turn my nose up at a bouquet of flowers because my embittered self no longer believes that these gestures are evidence of love; my version of romantic-PTSD hasn't killed all the romance in me. But it certainly got me to thinking about the difference between acts of romance and real romance.
So, while flowers, notes, stuffed animals, super hot and sexy moments, sunsets, cuddles, wine, jewelry and candlelight are all still welcome and encouraged, here's what I'm really looking for, here's what I think REAL ROMANCE is:
Sharing your time. Exhibiting integrity in everything you do. Paying attention. Sticking around when things suck. Sharing your truth. Sharing my truth. Refusing to leave even when you're scared. Kindly telling me when I have fucked up. Maintaining your focus. Having the audacity to endure even in doubt. Keeping faith. Facing down our ugliness because you know that beauty still exists under this layer of filth. Exercising your strength. Admiring and encouraging my strength. Being there when I really need you and sometimes don't have the courage to ask. Allowing me to be there when you really need me. Fighting for us even when it seems hopeless because we both know it isn't. Believing that we are a team of two and that we work better together. Embracing my family, both genetic and extended, because they are an integral extension of who I am. Remembering the important things, the little details and the fact that we just ran out of coffee and I'm too busy to pick some up, so can you do it?
I'm not looking for a girl who's watched Sex & The City so many times that she regurgitates lines and passes them off as her own romantic inspiration. I'm not interested in a girl who can speak a great flowery talk but can't stick around when I'm feeling scared, lonely or hurting. I'm not interested in a girl who casually throws around the word "Forever" but doesn't actually understand that "Forever" means all of it: the good, the bad, the ugly, the beautiful, the sexy, the very, very unsexy, the fear, the pain, the laughter, the tears, the inside jokes, the outward truth, the wars within the home and the battles fought together from inside the foxhole. I'm not looking for a girl who believes in and chases fairytales. I'm looking for a woman who doesn't understand the meaning of "giving up". I'm looking for a woman who doesn't look, walk or run away from love, whether it seems too hard or feels too good to be true. I'm looking for a woman who's not afraid to be a warrior for love. That's what I find romantic. And I guess that's what makes me a romantic… But would it be too much to ask for flowers too?