Love is a bit fucked, ain’t it? Loving is fucked, being loved is fucked, falling in and out of love is fucked. It’s all emotions and responsibility to yourself and someone else, it’s weird feelings in your chest and your stomach, navigation and compromise, dips of the rollercoaster, never knowing if you’re really happy or not and definitely not knowing if you’d be happier not doing what you are currently doing. In short: it’s a all a big mess despite our tendency to plug romance as the Best Thing You Can Ever Hope For in Your Sad Life.
That said, I am a romantic. In that I like reading about romance, sighing over phrases such as “she was the still point of the turning world”, Eugenaides’ introduction to My Mistress’s Sparrow is Dead and the rough but beautiful lines of Charles Bukowski and Leonard Cohen.
Reading about falling in and out of love is so much, much better than actually doing it. This we know.
Aaanyway. In real life, romantic gestures creep me the hell out mostly. I find it hard to imagine any that are not hopelessly cheesy, trite and downright embarassing to everyone involved. Take flash-mob marriage proposals for instance and tell me that’s not the most horrible incarnation of love and devotion you’ve ever seen.
So really, I believe in the love and romance you can read about. Real life romance should be banned, as per Charlie Brooker’s excellent column on the subject. (thanks Kato) You can read it all here. But I included this last passage because it’s heart-breakingly perfect.
“On and on and on it goes, and there’s no end to it. This madness must be stopped. We can medicate depression into oblivion; why not romance? A preventative tablet, perhaps, or an adhesive patch that suppresses the relevant endorphins, which you can slap on your skin at the first sign of attraction, killing romance dead, stopping you in your tracks before you make a fool of yourself or a hapless Aunt Sally of another.
And sizzled on the back of every packet, embossed on every patch, just to keep things melancholic and swoonsome, you’d find the last line from Graham Greene’s The End of the Affair – the battered protagonist’s final plea, which sums up the absolute aching awfulness of romance so eloquently it makes your heart nod along with tears in its eyes: “O God, You’ve done enough, You’ve robbed me of enough, I’m too tired and old to learn to love, leave me alone for ever.”