Words affect each of us in different ways. Sparkly Man calls himself a Romantic.
I don't see myself as one. As I told him, I'm a simple, earth bound, flesh and bones sorta gal. In that discussion, I always feel frustrated at my inability to clearly delineate why the term "Romance" feels so far from "me" when I do lots of romantic stuff with and for those I love.
Over the past few days little snippets about one aspect of romance have been coming to me.
Although I stopped reading them loooooooooooooong ago, in high school I kindasorta got sucked into the whole Romance Novel Thing. They ended up boring me, but for a short while I got hooked.
The books were always about the struggle, the miscommunications, the wonderings, the dramas, the angst of the two people finding their way to Love.
Behind their posturings of dislike for one another...he repeatedly rapes her...she secretly loves it and hates herself for loving it...he is wounded so can't show tenderness... she's desolate about being nothing but a body for this hateful man....but secretly loves him...but can't show it....neither can get past their egos to tell the truth about how they really feel for each other...yadayadayada... When they finally and rapturously get over their past woundings (usually because she's kidnapped or almost dies or something), they find a passion that makes the heavens peal with joy.
When they finally get their shit together to do the real work of relationship for REAL love (the part of relationship that really excites me), the fucking book ends. Barf City.
Then the other day I rented an Indie movie called " Illusion." It stars Kirk Douglas as a dying ex-filmmaker of Romantic films. He said something very interesting-
He asked an interviewer what he thought was the most romantic scene in all of literature. The journalist replied that it must be the balcony scene in " Romeo and Juliet." Douglas' character said yes, this is what most people cite, and explained that was because of the distance that the balcony provided between the two lovers. He said it's the space that makes things Romance.
The rest of that movie is about the son he abandoned who falls in love with a woman when they are in high school and how they are tragically "kept apart" for what seemed like over 10 years or so. As with the Romance novels, when the real work of relationship begins the movie ends.
I think of other "romantic" books that might not necessarily fall into the typical "romance novel" genre: "Bridges of Madison County," "Love in the Time of Cholera," "The Time Traveler's Wife." There are the stories of Heloise and Abelard or Tristan and Isolde. All these stories are filled with pain, longing, suffering, separation, loneliness, almost masochistic sacrifice, angst- not the potential joy and juice of real relationship that excites me. And if the romance story of all romance stories is the model, then I guess what's really romantic is to kill yourself for love. Talk about distance. Real Sexy.
I'm thinking Sparkly Man would very likely point to other things that make up his definition of being a Romantic. And I'm pretty sure there are additional reasons I don't connect that term to myself. I am curious, though, about this aspect of romance and what is touches inside us when we put such a premuim on associating pain, sadness, confusion, angst, and solitude with it.