Hollywood Love and Jane Austen Dreams

“I’ve found almost everything ever written about love to be true. Shakespeare said ‘Journeys end in lovers meeting.’ What an extraordinary thought. Personally, I have not experienced anything remotely close to that, but I am more than willing to believe Shakespeare had. I suppose I think about love more than anyone really should. I am constantly amazed by its sheer power to alter and define our lives. It was Shakespeare who also said ‘love is blind’. Now that is something I know to be true. For some, quite inexplicably, love fades; for others, love is simply lost. But then of course love can also be found, even if just for the night. And then, there’s another kind of love: the cruelest kind. The one that almost kills its victims. It’s called unrequited love. Of that I am an expert. Most love stories are about people who fall in love with each other. But what about the rest of us? What about our stories, those of us who fall in love alone? We are the victims of the one sided affair. We are the cursed of the loved ones. We are the unloved ones, the walking wounded. The handicapped without the advantage of a great parking space! Yes, you are looking at one such individual. And I have willingly loved that man for over three miserable years! The absolute worst years of my life! The worst Christmas’, the worst Birthday’s, New Years Eve’s brought in by tears and valium. These years that I have been in love have been the darkest days of my life. All because I’ve been cursed by being in love with a man who does not and will not love me back. Oh god, just the sight of him! Heart pounding! Throat thickening! Absolutely can’t swallow! All the usual symptoms.”[1]

I too think about love more than anyone probably should. As a girl who believes in love at first sight, happily ever after, and prince charming, I very often hear a lot of Hollywood and Jane Austen bashing: “That’s just Hollywood. It doesn’t really happen in real life. You actually have to work at love” or “Life isn’t a Jane Austen novel, don’t expect it to be.” But sometimes, Hollywood really does have it right. Give the credit to the writers, directors, producers, or Kate Winslet herself, but unrequited love truly is the cruelest kind of love, and like Kate Winslet’s character, I too have become its most recent victim. To love someone who can’t or won’t love you back, it’s an impossible place to be – like painting yourself into a corner with paint that never dries.

I’m not naïve. I’m sure “Cinderella drove Prince Charming nuts with her obsessive need to clean.”[2] Love must be worked at. Idiosyncrasies need to be worked through. But even knowing that, why must everyone rain on my parade and insist that I give up my beliefs and hopes in love? I often wonder how all those people who tell me I am foolish could ever have gotten married without the barest glimmer of hope that there would be a happily ever after?  I know it’s damn near impossible, just a wish upon a star, but, damnit, I WANT MY PRINCE CHARMING. I want my happily ever after and also the so allusive love at first sight.  And I want people to stop telling me I’m a fool for wanting such things. I don’t dash your hopes and dreams, so don’t dash mine and then have the nerve to call me friend.

Anyways back to unrequited love – it’s a bitch. One thing that Hollywood does do is give us hope that if we fall in love with the guy, the guy will eventually realize what’s right in front of his face and fall in love back. Or someone better will come along. That I still believe in, the someone better part. But I have just recently given up hope that the unrequited love will come to his senses. That loss of hope was freeing and devastating all at the same time.  Freeing, well because I was shackled and imprisoned to a vain hope. Devastating because it made me realize I still had hope when I had been trying to convince myself I didn’t.

It makes me think of an age old maxim, “be careful what you wish for” in my case it’s, “be careful what you pray for.”  For so long, I thought I was broken, incapable of loving someone. It’s common enough to hear a girl who wishes to be loved. I wished to love. To know that I could love. Well, I got my wish. And no matter how I hate it, and at times how I curse God for making it this way, I think unrequited love was the only way for me to know that I could love. It’s easy to love when you are being loved in return. It’s so much harder (and proof that it’s true) to love when the person wants absolutely nothing to do with you. And that is how I knew I could love because I didn’t try to manipulate him into loving me as I once did. I stood back and I loved from a distance, and now I will walk away.  Now, my prayer is when I fall in love again, it will be with someone who loves me too.

In the meantime, let me have my Hollywood wishes and my Jane Austen dreams. It’s the only thing that keeps me believing when the whole world and a whole lot of life experiences tell me to stop being a naïve child. I’d rather be a hopeless romantic than hopelessly cynical.

[1] The Holiday (2006)

[2] The Mirror Has Two Faces (1996)


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