The ‘great’ love stories are those which live on in literature and popular culture – Anthony and Cleopatra, Romeo and Juliet, Aladdin and Jasmine. What about the real great love stories, the ones that don’t end in tragedy or happily ever after? The ones where, at the end of the party, the music stops and they are still together in their own slice of happiness?
Once upon a time, a girl was at a dance with her friends. She looked across the room and caught the eye of a dashing sailor. They fell in love, married, had 2 daughters and lived happily ever after. Sound like a Disney story? It’s not – it’s the story of my mothers parents.
The fact that she was a refugee, and he died at the age of 54 widowing her, doesn’t diminish the strength of their love. Although I never met him, I felt as though I knew him, from the way she would speak of him and the stories she would tell. In her final years, as her body aged and weakened, her mind stayed sharp and I knew just how much she was longing to be reunited with him. The death of my beloved grandmother has really thrown me off kilter. I’ve lost my muse, my inspiration, my ability to write. All I can think of writing at the moment is her love story, and how that has shaped mine. I miss her every day, and I try to honour her every day, to be a better person like she was. She loved me unconditionally, and was always there for me, never judging, only supportive. Realistic and wise, definitely a product of her generation, but an incredible woman who so much of my identity as a woman is tied to.
One of the things she encouraged me doing was writing. She knew I loved to write and would often ask me what I was working on. She was a great person to talk to about dating, relationships and love, and was so proud that I was getting published. The funny thing was, I never set out to be a storyteller. I never set out to have such a colourful love life. And I certainly never envisaged needing a spreadsheet to keep track of them all! I got into online dating because I wanted to meet someone. It wasn’t always fun. But writing about it, joking about it with my friends, and sharing my experiences at least made the bad dates feel worth it, because they gave me food for thought, and were a great way to get off my chest the frustrations of being a single girl trapped in a groundhog day of first dates and not-quite-getting-there’s.
Writing gave me focus, clarity and a way of processing. And let’s be honest, it’s sort of nice (in an extremely childish and immature way) to insult a guy and publicly say what his flaws are. I’m quite a private person, but I’m honest and open when it comes to love, dating, sex and shenanigans. Chatting to my colleague about writing for LoveScene led to me reading back through some of my old articles, which put a huge grin on my face. As well as certain friends telling me they were living vicariously through my experiences, it helped me figure out what I wanted.
Real love doesn’t die. And it’s worth holding out hope that you will meet someone who deserves you. And as much as we may rail against it, sometimes a grandmother’s clichés are true.