As far as love stories go, mine and Jeremy’s isn’t so unusual. We met online, like lots of people do. On paper, we were ridiculously similar but had enough differences to keep things interesting. My children adored him from the moment they met him. I loved his family as soon as I met them. Even our cats blended together without much fuss. It would be the perfect story to tell, except for the part in the story where I met him for the first time and felt, well, meh.
As a writer, it kind of spoils the narrative, don’t you think?
In romance, you always hear the love at first sight stories, the unrequited stories, even the enemies to lovers stories. What you never hear about are the people who meet, think “meh”, and go on to fall in love later stories.
I’m embarrassed to admit that I didn’t know I was looking at the love of my life on that fateful July 1st afternoon when Jeremy appeared at my door. We were supposed to go to dinner, and maybe a movie. It was pouring down rain. So we sat on my couch talking for a few hours waiting for the storm to let up (spoiler alert: it didn’t). We talked and talked and talked and I remember feeling tired, and disinterested, and a little bored by our conversation.
In retrospect, I think I was burned out from dating in general. Even if Matthew Macfadyen, dressed as Mr. Darcy, had strode through a dew-covered field and professed hiss undying love to me in sonnet form, I doubt it would’ve impressed me. I’d been on far too many first dates, and had heard so many first date biographies, that getting to know new people had totally lost its appeal–especially considering how infrequently I ever heard from these first dates again. I was over the whole get-to-know-you thing. It seemed like a colossal waste of my time.
This is not to say I didn’t like Jeremy. I thought he was a perfectly nice human being and I was fine hanging out with him again. I just didn’t think he was “the one”. I expected bells to ring. Maybe a sign from God. Celestial choirs or something. I got nada.
Jeremy and I are together now because 1) the singles group we belonged to had a 4th of July party, which I invited him to. And 2) while at aforementioned party, he charmed my children. And not in that smarmy, fake-acting I’m-interested-in-you-to-impress-your-mom kind of way, but like he legitimately liked them and wanted to talk to them. And when they bitched about being bored at the party and he learned that they’d rather go see a movie, he invited the three of us on a movie date.
From that moment, my kids were 100% on board. So much in fact, that Sam told me on the way home from the party that I needed to marry Jeremy because he wanted him to be his stepfather. Whether I was on board with the plan seemed immaterial.
So the 4th of July party that wasn’t supposed to be a date, became a date. And whether I wanted to or not, I was signed up for date #3 because my children wanted to hang out with this guy I wasn’t especially interested in…
Life is funny sometimes.
Date #3 went better. By the end of Date #4, I realized that this was going to be an Important Relationship. I still didn’t know that Jeremy was going to be my future husband, but the idea didn’t seem all that farfetched anymore. Fast forward only a few months later and I knew that I would walk across molten lava and glass shards to marry Jeremy–that I loved him in a way that probably changed my DNA, I was so altered by it.
So what changed?
I realized I was looking in the wrong places for love. In fact, looking for it was the problem.
I half expected love to wave at me from across a crowded room and say “here I am!” But I’ve learned that love is quieter than that.
Good love is actually a lot like good writing. The tenet that is hammered into every writer’s head is “show don’t tell.” Love should be shown and not told, too. Older wiser Brittany has learned that if you have to wait to be told that someone loves you, it’s not real love. Real love is shown every day, all the time.
It’s loving someone enough to trust them, to encourage their madcap pursuits, to be be endlessly supportive as they fall down and get back up again, and never become frustrated by their growth.
It’s also taking care of them, emotionally and physically, as life knocks them around. It’s being a safe haven from all the crap in the world. A shoulder to lean on. A hand to hold.
It’s also seeing the potential in your partner, and endlessly cheerleading until they see it too.
Maybe you can’t actually see love, but you can certainly see its effects. I am so much more confident now–unafraid to live my best life–and I’m sure I radiate contentment and satisfaction now, because I truly feel like my life is perfect. My marriage is happy and my husband is totally unbothered by me going off in a hundred different directions. Because of his support, I’m working two jobs I love, that are the perfect mix of my interests. I don’t feel like I have to choose one thing over another anymore. I can have it all.
So what does love look like? It looks happy.