I slammed my hand down on the counter so hard my palms were bright red and stinging. He took a step back indicating I’d frightened him. Little me. I had tried to take the dog out, to go for a walk and cool my Italiano temper, but of course the fucking elevator wouldn’t work. Stairs? he asked when I came back in the door, defeated. In truth, I didn’t even think to take the stairs. My legs were sore, and we live on the 12th floor. Instead, I came back home, started screaming, and slammed my tiny paws on the table. Eventually, we agreed to go to bed mad, and Mia never peed.
This is not how I thought the greatest love of my life would go, I thought as rolled over and fell asleep.
All I really ever wanted was an amazing story. A run into his arms, lifts me up and kisses me, sunsets and shit like that kind of story. A movie. I really wanted a movie. I realized early on that movies don’t just happen on their own. If I wanted a romantic drama, I was going to have to create a romantic drama. Easy enough. In creating the type of romance I would want to watch, I had to create a few dramatic situations. I had to take things a little too far. Give into things that from the outside looking in seemed borderline insane. Extend myself. Hence why I flew my senior prom date in town for the occasion – the excitement, the anticipation. The airport pickup outfit was almost as important as the actual prom dress. And I was just seventeen.
What followed was an entire decade of trying to create the perfect story. Sure I had a few creative lulls when I was in a committed four year relationship and during my graduate school finals, but most of the time I was a dramatic dater. I remember running through the rain into my French boyfriend’s arms. There was that racecar driver in Monaco. And the time I threw my boyfriend’s pants out the window. Was it really shocking then that I ended up breaking up with and getting back together with my ex boyfriend five and almost six times? Isn’t that called the Law of Attraction? I was sure that if I endured so much heartache, there must be an amazing lift-you-in-the-sky kind of moment followed by immediate fairytale bliss. There must be. There has to be…
My boyfriend does come home from work and on an occasion lift me up. But I’m much heavier than a Disney princess, so the effect isn’t really the same. And while I love those moments, those are just a few amongst a myriad of lots of other moments. Real moments that make up what my therapist calls “the nitty gritty.” Love, real love, is not always rainbows and sunshine. When you strip away the romantic vacation and Michelin-worthy meals, you get the real relationship. And the real relationship is literally terrifying.
Most days are normal days. Not exciting. Not fighting. He goes to his hockey game. I go to yoga. We talk about work and talk about work and talk about work. Those days are okay. Then there are selfish screaming days where I slam my hands on the table. Days when one of has to take a walk. Walks that don’t work and nights we go to sleep angry because it feels unsettlable. Not a lot of nights, but it happens. (Whoever said never go to bed angry was never in a relationship with another Italian pitta.) In the morning he pulls back the shower curtain and says it’s me. And I say no it’s me. And for the ten seconds of silence that I stare at water dripping off his perfect chest and abs it doesn’t really matter who it is. Then those ten seconds pass. Fine it’s you, I say back and walk out of the bathroom.
The nitty gritty doesn’t happen in movies because in the nitty gritty there is no clear climax or resolution. The nitty gritty is a journey to an unknown destination. Embarking on a path not knowing where it will lead or if you will ever even reach a destination. Going on said journey involves exposing yourself completely to someone, raw vulnerability, reflection and patience. Like a ton of patience with absolutely no guarantee that you will ever ride romantically off into the sunset. But in the nitty gritty commitment helps you solider on. Commitment fuels your hope. So here’s hoping.