We've Got To Hold On To What We've Got, 'Cause It Doesn't Make A Difference If We Make It Or Not, We've Got Each Other And That's A Lot For Love
Like many folks born in the 80's I was first introduced to the absolutely delicious John Cusack from his movie Say Anything.... Technically, I was old enough to have seen Better Off Dead, but the first film I distinctly remember seeing in the theaters with my daddy was his crowning achievement. I can't tell you that first viewing didn't exactly leave me with a case of the vapors or gasping for breath, but I can tell you that I made a mental note of Mr. Cusack's note for later. And I've been jotting notes about that fine gentleman for the last nineteen years, give or take. I don't know if it's more his acting chops or his goofy good looks, but by and large he has to be my favorite performer. I'd rather see a horrible film starring him than a decent film starring anyone else, please, thank you.
That was the first milestone that that film provided me. While it is a huge deal around these parts, I reckon a larger, more universal, turning point was reached after that first viewing. Up until that point I had delved in the usual delusions of a little 'ole girl that had only read the fairy tales and more innocent versions of what romance and love was supposed to feel like. I had danced in the fairy dresses with some gossamer prince, I had written verses about being swept off my feet by an impeccably dressed gentleman caller, I had sipped champagne with the valiant millionaire in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower. I had pictured it all. My beaus, as I called them then, were all of a certain sophistication and social status that had been instilled into me by the years of being told that tales like that did happen in real life. I had grown up with the foolish notion that such dreams truly could happen to me. And I had been innocent enough to believe them. As my daddy said, when his tiger was nothing more than a cub, she "had the whole world organized like a kitchen cabinet." Every one of my plans was detailed down to the last shading. My idea of the perfect beau and the perfect romance was just as specific. I honestly thought it was going to be the whirlwind romance for me. Anything short of that would have been a failure in my book.
All that changed when I went to see Say Anything.... Lloyd Dobler and Diane Court weren't rich as the hills. They weren't dressed in tailored clothes. They certainly didn't go out to any exotic places or dine on any exciting cuisine. Yet their love was as endearing and as real as any story I had heard before them. Hell's bells, their story was more enriching because of the fact that they weren't resplendent caricatures. They were sweet to one another. They were awkward in front of one another. Lloyd was so quaint in the way he stammered around Diane throughout the whole movie. I relished every last bit of it. There's was a love I could believe in, even if wasn't exactly the stuff dreams are made of. By the end of the movie I was rooting for those two as much as I have ever rooted for the Braves or Dawgs. That's something I couldn't have said before I was ten. It wasn't like when I was reading Sleeping Beauty I was as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. I wanted to see her happy and I wanted her and the prince to end up together, but it was never in question what their fate would be. If anything, it was exhausting to see them finally get to the point the story had been building up to. The film was different because it did leave me with doubts about Lloyd and Diane's fate. I had serious reservations about whether or not two people from such vastly different backgrounds could ever succeed.
And that's when it began.
That's when I fell in love with the notion of the working class romance. Daydreams of eating caviar on some beachfront resort began to be replaced with scenes more reminiscent of Lady and the Tramp. It suddenly became more appealing to think of love as this difficult thing one had to fight for. It wasn't enough that the love was genuine; it needed to be complicated as well. I've always been a fighter, rallying against people and concepts that didn't sit well with me. I'm just surprised that my independent nature took that long to rail against a conventional view of love. That's when I started writing silly stories about construction workers falling in love with maids. Every story out of my silly 'ole head resembled Rocky or Ice Castles. I reckon that's when you can say I became a fan of the chick flick.
If you even took a survey of the men I've been attracted to it's easy to see there's a pattern at work. I've never really gone for the man who could buy me the most expensive piece of jewelry in the store. I've always been more smitten by those poor fellows who hadn't the vaguest notion as to go about buying me some expensive bauble. I've always taken a shining to the men who were never quite sure how they would ever impress me as opposed to those fellows who were superbly confident about their choice of presents. Yes, little 'ole me does admire someone with confidence. Yet I completely believe there is such a thing as being too confident, just as I believe there is such a thing as having it too easy. I've had it easy. I don't deny that. as much as I complain about childhood being rife with stress and maternal issues, I know I could have had it much more difficult. I didn't struggle to eat. I had tons of possessions to keep me occupied. And I also had parents who overtly spoiled me time and time again. What I didn't need was a relationship that was going to continue this trend. That's why I went purposefully looking for individuals in my life who would challenge me. That's one thing I certainly believe in; love should be a challenge or nothing at all. There's no point in doing something worthwhile if it doesn't push you to your limits. It shouldn't kill you either, but I completely am of the philosophy that the best things in this life are those things that you feel like you've earned. Men are no different. I've always wanted to earn a man's love and not have it thrown at me. I've always wanted to be accompanied, not taken care of. And I went looking for those type of men who could see this vision through to its bitter end. I might not have had to kiss as many frogs to find my prince, but, at least for me, that was far better than kissing my way through princes only to discover the one I ended up with was a frog, if that makes any sense. I reckon you could say I wanted to be with a man who I could see evolve into somebody special rather than be with a man who was God's gift, only to have him be exposed for the charlatan he really was.
And I wanted a courtship that wasn't guaranteed to succeed. I wanted our fate to be in jeopardy. It's no fun reading a story when you already know the ending. I wanted Lloyd and Diane. I wanted to be involved in the process of finding out if the person I was with was compatible with me and not have it already be write in stone. I don't know if it influenced how I handled my first couple of beaus, but I have been accused in the past of sabotaging my relationships. I wouldn't categorize it as sabotage per se. I was more like the cat who knocks over the water dish just to see if her owner would clean it up. It was vital to me that the fellow I ended up with was accustomed to the travails life throws at you. That was a side I simply couldn't see if everything was right as rain all the time. So, yeah, I sometimes caused problems to see what kind of solutions would arise.
This philosophy also manifested in the manner I handled fighting with people. I took every fight on a figurative level as well as a literal level. That's something else both Eeyore and Greg accuse me constantly. Some people like to fight; they derive a perverse pleasure in causing conflict. Not me. I like to win. I have no compunction against flat out telling y'all that I often start fights that I would be hard-pressed to be correct about, just to see if I can pull out a victory. I reckon that's colored my relationships too. In certain situations that I could have made easier, I've gone down on the other fork in the river just to see where it would lead. I'm stubborn about doing things my own way. And one of my ways is to never want things to settle into a tedium. That's a fate worse than death for someone like little 'ole me, someone who craves the spotlight, who craves something new and different every day. The twenty-nine-year-old in me finds it difficult to believe the ten-year-old in me who wanted people and things to be handed over to her on a silver platter. My life would have sufficiently ended if I managed to end up as the future my parents, my school, even my friends had picked out for me. That would have been the literal death of me.
The last way I think the film influenced me was in the way I handled the end of my relationships. I took a page out of Lloyd's book and I tended to hold onto the ghost far longer than I should have. I never held up my boombox outside the window of the man I thought I loved, but I've flown out to see people in a vain attempt to repair the damage may or may not have wrought. I also may have written multi-page letters, or blueprints, regarding how to repair a love that burned out far quicker than it should have. In short, the more difficult and untenable the relationship, the more I wish to cling to its last vestiges. With some relationships, the easier ones, when they die it's good riddance. More precisely, if it was easy, I somehow delude myself into thinking it isn't actually over when it really is. WIth the more rocky ones, I get used to the struggle. I kind of miss it when it finally ends, which is what causes me to fight harder to maintain that rockiness as detrimental as it may be to my sanity.
take my hand and we'll make it
Greg is living proof that sometimes you get the relationship you asked for. It hasn't been easy with him--not even close. I asked for struggles and in the last seven years there have been struggles galore. If it wasn't my relationship with Patrick, it was my focusing on my business. If it wasn't my harping on him, it was his belittling my more extravagant ideas. I've thought about more leaving him more than once. We even came close to getting divorced a year ago. If there is one thing I can say about our marriage, it's that it's felt like we truly had to work to keep it going.
And I reckon we're the better for it. The way I look at it now is that we're like that old pickup truck that has broken down time and time again. But you don't junk it. You work on it, you repair each part as it breaks down, you keep on maintaining it each and every day. From the outside people tell you that it would've been so much easier to start anew with something more suitable to your demeanor, but to Greg and I, that would be heresy. All the time and the tears invested into our marriage has transformed it into something grander than the both of us. We've always loved each other. What being married to one another for almost a decade now has taught us is that in the beginning we never respected one another. It's taken breaking each other down, only to build each other up again to instill that level of respect in our day-to-day existence. I can't say it's always been fun and I can't say it's always been the better part of easy, but, hell's bells, has it made me into a more rounded, more loving person.
I haven't learned patience completely yet.
I haven't learned compromise completely yet.
I haven't even learned to control my frustration completely yet.
But the best thing I can say about Greg is that he makes me want to try to learn those things, which is more than I can say about anyone else I have ever known. That's how I know I love him. And that's how I know our love is real... because it's hurts real good every time. Haha.