I equate romance to my fear of heights. Years ago I thought I was in love with a rock climber. Turns out the butterflies in my stomach were only aroused while sitting on cliffs. They still come around every once in a while, not from holding hands but from holding the sides of mountains.
Love is elusive.
I never did marry that rock climber, I married some other guy, and our butterflies have been maimed. Our first year of marriage was nothing like the thrill of hanging from a cliff, it was more like falling in a flutter of broken wings with butterfly guts smearing our foreheads. We crashed through the fine art of living together—non glamorous things like learning how to fight well, learning how to communicate, stumbling through sex. It was messy, leaving a wreckage of mistakes and rifts in our choppy legacy of oneness.
Whatever it was that caused couples to make out in public for hours as if they wanted to eat each other, we just didn’t have it.
I would joke with myself that it wasn’t the thought of divorce that scared the shit out of me, it was the other option… sticking with it.
We did though, through the second year, now a third.
The butterflies are still recovering from the fall, the hand holding still feels like hands holding, sex is still as much of an experiment as it is exercise, and we definitely haven’t eaten each other (gross). I still think about life without him and I could do it… the thing is, I don’t want to. And it’s because of moments like yesterday when I just needed a friend, and all I had to do was come home. It’s the simple things, the little things, the everyday things that I stuck around to find out about, such as backrubs and breakfast, opening doors and picking daisies. It’s things like Cuban beans and lame jokes, making art and flying kites, warm smiles and endured tears.
I start to wonder… have I been in love this whole time and I just didn’t know it? What is romance? What is being in love anyway? Something tells me that love doesn’t ride on the backs of butterflies. Love is a collection of choices to stay no matter what, a firm and permanent ground on which to stand. I have planted myself here with him, and here we will stay and grow.
We are not a warehouse of butterflies, we are only their occasional landing place and in their absence, it is boring old day to day life where I find myself in love with the man I married.