I like to describe myself a cynical hopeless romantic.
It’s an oxymoron, I know. But it really captures who I am – I sneer at people who are overly romantic or sentimental, but I’m unashamed at how much I love The Notebook. I hate Valentine’s Day more than almost anything on earth, but I still want to be kissed in the pouring rain. I hate the commercialization of love these days, and I’ve been through enough to know that most declarations on Facebook are mostly for show. There’s a huge part of me that stopped believing in marriage years ago, and I know what the statistics say… but I look at my friends and my parents, and I can’t help thinking “I want that.” Any time I go to a wedding, I say a prayer that this will be one of the couples that defies the odds, that sticks together for years, that’s honest and respectful with each other, and that someday will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.
I’m thinking about all of this, because I went to a friend’s wedding yesterday, and it was beautiful. It was a touching, thoughtful ceremony. It felt so authentic, so true to who they are, both as individuals and a couple, and I can’t think of another wedding I’ve ever been to where the couple looked so completely and thoroughly in love. I couldn’t take my eyes off of my friend as she recited her vows, and I couldn’t help thinking “someday I want someone to look at me the way she’s looking at her husband.”
I never used to cry at weddings, but in the past four years, I’ve found I can’t keep my eyes dry anymore. To be honest, most times I cry upon hearing a song or reading that I’d used for my own wedding. I cry because I’m angry that I believed in something that failed me, that I once stood at an altar in front of my closest friends and family and made promises to someone who I’d believed would keep them. But sometimes, just sometimes, I cry because there is a moment so touching, so honest, so real that it makes me believe again. I found a few of those moments yesterday. I found myself believing, if only for a few moments, that the institution of marriage isn’t completely fucked, that there’s a reason people out there are fighting for their right to join in, and that it is possible that we each have a soul mate. The rational, cynical part of me tells me I’m being ridiculous, but the idealist in me won’t let that part take over yet. Not completely, at least. I’m like Ted Mosby in that respect – we’re either optimists at heart, or incredibly stupid and unwilling to see how the world really works.
I see a lot of failures in the world. I’ve watched friends get hurt and I’ve watched friends hurt others. Ninety-five percent of the time, I may scoff at the idea of true love, that one person can realistically commit to another for the rest of their lives, and I’ll wonder if humans are really capable of monogamy. But the other five percent… it may not be often, but it’s enough to sustain me, to keep me going and make sure I don’t end the day curled up in a ball in my bed, depressed and overwhelmed by the thought of facing it all alone.
The idealism keeps me balanced. So does the cynicism. I don’t think I’ll ever fall quickly again. I’m much too cautious and jaded. But I want to believe there’s someone out there who will help me fall gently, and that I’ll let myself go when the time is right. And while I’ll never have a big, fancy wedding again, someday, somewhere, I think I’d still like to stand before my family and closest friends and make that commitment to another person. Because despite all of the evidence to the contrary, I still believe it’s possible.