Romance is Dead, Long Live Romance

Liz Lemon: I scheduled a root canal for February 14th, Jack. I will spend half the day in twilight sleep, then I will go home and watch the Lifetime original movie “My Step-son is My Cyber-husband.”

Jack Donaghy: Wow, that is inspired. You are truly the Picasso of Loneliness.

30 Rock, S04E13: Anna Howard Shaw Day

I remember when I used to dread Valentine’s Day. I couldn’t stand all the giddiness and flowers, the cards, the chocolates, the naked, cherubic, rosy-cheeked little Cupids hanging from the ceiling. Instead of a day that highlighted what love was about, for me Valentine’s Day was a day that highlighted not being loved at all. I wanted so much to be one of the chosen and instead it was a day that made me feel like the ugliest stepsister at the ball.

So I hated it. Hated it like the Grinch hated Christmas.

And now?

Now, I find I don’t care all that much about it anymore.

Sure, you’ll say.  Of course you wouldn’t care about it, why would you? You’re married, you’re done, you’re off the market, the pressure to find a mate is gone.

Romance as we know it – surprise helicopter rides and impromptu candlelit dinners at the top of some revolving restaurant in some unnamed metropolis – dies hard when one is married. And it doesn’t just get snuffed out like a flame, oh no. No, no, no. You won’t get that at all. You won’t even get the displeasure of having it ripped off like some sort of metaphysical band-aid, nursing the sting one moment, moving on the next. Romance doesn’t just die overnight; it dies gradually, struck blind by the kind of I-woke-up-like-this face not even a mother could love, deafened by the snoring, asphyxiated by morning breath and all the careless farting, until twelve years later you wake up and realize that yep, it’s gone.

It’s probably age. We’re both older now, and I don’t know about him, but I’m the kind of old that sees most things as a chore, measuring a choice or an activity against the remaining time I may have left on this earth. A lot of things are prefaced with “do I have enough time to do this and wait for myself to like it?” Or, “Why am I really doing this?”

Keeping a marriage alive takes work. Hard work. Some days, you work hard to remember why you got married in the first place. The sometimes suffocating closeness of living in proximity with another person can take its toll. So no. No more schmoopy love notes. No more surprise flowers. No more spontaneous nights in hastily booked hotels, or ostentatious dinners in ostentatious restaurants, and ostentatious gifts to prove we love each other; right now, the most ostentatious thing we give each other is the fact that we’re still together, a grudging “I’m still here, aren’t I?”  which dissolves into mutual eyerolls and then a bit of a giggly cuddle.

Romance may be killed off as easily as the first sucker in a horror film, but love, now love is an entirely different animal. Love is a box of Michelina’s that gets eaten but replaced, making sure the “DO NOT EAT! EMERGENCY WORK FOOD” post-it looks just like it did on the original box because he doesn’t want you to know he ate it, but gets busted for it anyway. Love is putting up with getting pantsed. Love is getting dry humped randomly while doing the dishes. Love is waving at each other from the elevator. Love is surreptitiously patting him on the butt with a “giddy-up, horsie” as he pushes the yellow grocery cart at the local No Frills.

Love is the cockroach of emotions – it can survive anything, even a nuclear holocaust. And that’s okay with me. I don’t mind a little romance here and there, but I’m not going to let one single day dictate that I show it. Love is a tenacious little fucker, and if you ask me to choose between romance and love, I’ll take love any day of the week. 

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