Am I too romantic? It seems, unfortunately, that I am. I look for ‘true love’, for ‘happily ever after’ but the life I’m longing for is one that can never truly exist. Not in this world. Who’s fault is that? Who can I blame for this defect of heart and mind?
Should I blame myself? Perhaps. I am undoubtedly cursed with a vivid imagination and, given the chance, could live for weeks, even months, inside my own fantasy world. However, imagination is not the same as romanticism. Also, it feels unpleasant to accept full responsibility for my own shortcomings.
Instead, I choose to blame Hollywood. Movies are always cited for their glorification of sex and violence but what of their arguably more damaging crime? The glorification of romance. How many little girls have, like me, been ruined forever by a diet of Disney heroines and their Princes Charming? Of Destiny, Soul Mates and ‘Boy meets Girl’?
Books too are culpable. From Pride and Prejudice to Bridget Jones we are plied with the crack cocaine of Finding Mr Right. I didn’t stand a chance.
During the years since my last, great, tragic romance I created a template for my ideal man. Specific, from physique and colouring to temperament and personality, and I would settle for nothing less than perfection. I had no need to settle. I was happy in my solitude. Content to be single and serene, untroubled by any strong emotion and not willing to risk my heart unnecessarily. Waiting for The One.
Then the Spring came. This potent Spring that reached deep inside me and somehow switched on the passion that had been hibernating for so long. I felt myself opening like a flower in the sun. I was ready to love. Ready to risk… but on who?
I looked around and found a man I had known for years. A man who seemed to fit my template, though not exactly. But I did not nitpick. I was awash with passion and romantic ideas and there was no stopping me.
It even felt like a love story: years of friendship and constant devotion, two people kept apart by circumstances and bad timing. The heavens would align, destiny would take it’s course and true love would prevail!
Did I shoe-horn this man into the space meant for my ideal? Did I ignore the aspects that didn’t quite fit because the overall effect was so pleasing? You bet I did! But also, I wanted it to work, so very much. It seemed so right, so ‘meant to be’. It just couldn’t fail. The problem was, it wasn’t a love story. It was real. Two very flesh and blood people with sadly different ideas on what ‘love is’.
My friend SG has a man who seems perfect: caring, considerate, imaginatively romantic. My brain tells me he is exceptional, that SG is uniquely fortunate, but my heart – my wayward, stubborn, romantic heart – says “Where there is one there must be more”. It sees hope where none exists.
Today, speaking to one of the beautiful, clever, sweet and entirely unavailable men who plague my life, I just barely managed to hold back the tears. “Why aren’t you mine?” I was screaming inside, “Why do I never get the happy ending?”
Because there is no happy ending. Not in this world.
Despite what I have been led to believe, I will not die from a broken heart. So, I will give myself a mental shake, paste on a bright smile and carry on. Though all the time, through gritted teeth, I will be whispering curses on the memory of Walt Disney.