[Photography by Alexandra Wolf]
Everywhere you look these days you see couples that have the ability to espouse the stories of their uncomplicated courtships in five minutes or less. Conventional tales of college first dates turned two year anniversaries turned neatly wrapped boxes with ribbons on top (I’m not speaking metaphorically here; I’m referring to those square shaped enclosures that harbor round/emerald/princess cut promises of supposed eternity within), always seem so organic and harmonious to me.
When I observe those people posting declarations of their unconditional love for each other on Facebook, timelines abounding with every single one of the wedding pictures that the photographer could’ve possibly captured within a span of six hours, and then eventually – invariably – the sonogram shot to boot, it doesn’t frustrate me in the same way that it might if I were, let’s say, a more cynical social media user.
But that said, I can’t exactly relate to such a scenario either because true love, distinguished from stable familiarity, struck me in a way that a lighting bolt does when it touches the branches of a seemingly sturdy backyard weeping willow tree. Innocuous sounding enough, right? WRONG. Ultimately, it catalyzed a chain reaction that prompted the friendly former shade provider to smash my proverbial slate roof to bits and render me temporarily adrift (no pun intended) in the midst of a full-blown natural disaster.
You know what I mean?
But – here’s the thing — now that I’ve experienced love in the way that Anthony Hopkins describes it to his on screen daughter in the movie Meet Joe Black, “Love is passion, obsession, someone you can’t live without. I say, fall head over heels. Find someone you can love like crazy and who will love you the same way back. How do you find him? Well, you forget your head, and you listen to your heart. Cause the truth is, honey, there’s no sense living your life without this. To make the journey and not fall deeply in love, well, you haven’t lived a life at all. But you have to try, cause if you haven’t tried, you haven’t lived,” I wouldn’t trade the act of falling face first — and quite messily — into my relationship with my now fiancé for all of the Kelley Bags, croc or otherwise, in the world.
Truth be told, our courtship was anything but instantaneous or uncomplicated. Although the two of us were great friends prior to the time in which we became a couple, for many years, we remained steadfastly rooted in the realm of the platonic – mostly because — well (how do I put this?), for the large majority of the time, I was engaged to another person. And for my fiancé’s part in the matter, he had settled in New York City and commenced a dating life that, by all accounts, rivaled only that of Christian Grey’s. Not only did he share many of the details of that life with me, but he also utilized my girl brain as a conduit to the ever-complex female psyche in a quest to streamline his own romantic encounters.
Engrossed in my life in Boston, and focused largely on law school, I was always happy to hear fresh stories about the dating world and to offer advice from my perspective. Set him up with someone? Sure! Provide gift guidance upon the abrupt arrival of Valentine’s Day? A cinch. Serve as wing woman when a group of us would go out together downtown? Of course!
So, between both of our situations, respectively, it just never occurred to me that I might drop everything and commence my life’s great romance with my then best friend. Although my previous relationship was riddled with fundamental incompatibilities, I failed to recognize that the true definition of love is, in fact, passion, obsession and someone you can’t live without. So, for a long time (meaning – ahem – six years) I simply continued forward with my day-to-day existence.
And then things changed.
While the nitty gritty details of that transformation don’t really matter, it suffices to say that I made a number of fundamental, life altering decisions, which have ultimately lead me to where I am today – deeply in love and ready to share the rest of my life with someone who I love like crazy and who loves me the same way back.
It wasn’t easy. It involved a lot of confusion, messiness, catatonic moments, Bible reading/clutching, displacement across states, and the like. But candidly, I didn’t make the decision for anyone other than myself.
Recently, upon seeing a close girlfriend of mine, I was disappointed to hear her suggest that at thirty, it would probably behoove her to settle for someone who was “safe,” meaning a person who would possess the good qualities of a stable future husband even if he wasn’t able to provide her with a once in a lifetime kind of love.
When she asked for my opinion on the matter, we both recognized that she was already aware of what my response would be. After all, she had witnessed my own story unfold. While I don’t generally go around quoting Anthony Hopkins (because, I mean, Hannibal Lector?) arguably, no truer words have ever been spoken: to make the journey and not fall deeply in love? Well, then you haven’t lived a life at all.