The Love Stories That Never Were, Could Have Been, and Could Be

 Photo: Kevin Dooley

Photo: Kevin Dooley

There isn’t really a map or formula to romantic love as there is in movies. A chance meeting in a cliché rom-com setting, being serenaded under the dim glow of moonlight, having a library’s worth of poetry being dedicated to you – it doesn’t mean that you will be swept away into a happy ending, or that you will be covered in rose petals. Love is a great many things, including choice. And in classic human nature, love on earth is messy. It isn’t always bright, saturated with excitement and nearly ridiculous giddiness. It can be break-your-back-heavy, swallowing down sobs, red-rimmed eyes, and the feeling that your chest has eroded thanks to a flood of failure.

You will not always get The Someone you desire. You will not. It sounds so easy. But how awful it can feel when it is unrequited. How strangely beautiful of a term it is. To mouth those words feels as though you are in a fairy-tale with a guaranteed, magical solution to the pain life lugs along with it. This isn’t meant to deter you from broken yet brilliant love humans are fated not just to feel, but to choose. To do. To live.

Yes, it feels awful in the middle of it all. In the middle. The middle, as you know, is not the end. The middle is when your heart feels constricted, choked by an almost familiar darkness. The middle is when that darkness pounds its fists against your heart. The darkness’ knuckles bleed poison in the very cracks it creates. In fairy-tales, the middle is the longest part, but the end hits you with force. The pain is forgotten amidst the joyous ending. The end of a love story is not so clear-cut in real life.

There once was a love story that never happened. A love story that could have happened. A love story that only had an ending. Many us have been part of love stories that never were. The ending could in fact be finding The Someone you will choose to love for the rest of your stories, a Someone you will be loved by in return. The end could be waking up one morning without a crinkle between your eyebrows, without feeling like a blade is scraping against your ribcage at the thought of your loss.

The end could be realizing dreams that were once as small as seeds, having been stuck in the periphery of your vision when you were in love. The end could be learning that romantic love is not the greatest achievement of a life. But I hope the end itself is learning that it hurts and choosing to love anyways. Loving without fear of being hurt is admirable, but loving despite that fear is even more powerful.