I currently have a ‘must watch’ list of around five or six romantic films on my Netflix account. It doesn’t really matter what they are all about, boy meets girl, boy does something to hurt girl, boy makes a grand romantic gesture and gets the girl in the end. There are good, bad and ugly renditions of this age-old genre but I’ve seen them all. Mainly the ugly.
There is nothing that makes my little heart soar more than seeing Edward Lewis, at the end of Pretty Woman pulling up to Vivian’s home in his Lincoln Stretch Limousine, conquering his fear of heights to climb up the fire escape, all with a bunch of roses in hand, to kiss her and utter the immortal line:
Edward: So what happened after he climbed up the tower and rescued her?
Roy Orbison’s Pretty Woman plays out. The tears run down my face. I spend the next thirty minutes yearning for a real life romantic moment with diamond necklaces and red opera gowns.
What happens after the credits roll though? What happens after those immortal words? What happens after they go back down that fire escape?
Everyone knows by now that Disney and rom-coms are behind our misguided expectations of romance and flowers in our relationships but what if actually we’ve been reading it wrong all along. What if we start understanding that after those credits roll the romance still continues but its more pyjamas and takeaway than operas and polo?
We constantly associate the word romance to images of grandeur, extravagance and overt displays of affection. Whether we like it or not these moments just don’t have longevity kids. Unless of course you are married to Kanye West for whom filling a mansion full of roses is just another day. We are creatures of habit, after all, we get comfortable with our loved ones, we slip into that beautiful haze of monogamy. We forget about wearing matching lingerie every day or greeting them at the door wearing nothing but a tie (Sorry I’m back to Pretty Woman again). Everything has a life span, nothing is forever and so why do we treat stages of relationships like they are?
Last month I was stricken with the worst kind of period pain. The kind that makes you want to curl up and cry watching The Notebook. In a hormonal struggle, I ended up highly upset that I couldn’t find my hot water bottle, as we all know, our uteruses best friend in moments like this. Joe disappeared to our corner shop and a few moments later returned with some rubber gloves and a pillowcase which he proceeded to shape into a makeshift hot water bottle for me. Tell me that is not romance. Admittedly my yellow marigolds probably don’t scream Richard Curtis movie but at that moment I truly thought this was one of the most romantic things anyone had ever done for me.
We have been together for five years now and yes, I cannot lie, some days I watch one of my beloved romantic films and yearn for those moments of romantic bliss and there is nothing wrong with that. In those moments though, I’m missing the real romance. I’m missing him ordering us pizza even though he keeps telling me “pizza is just a snack” because he knows I love it. I’m missing him leaving me a cup of tea on my bedside table in the morning even though I’ve grumpily kicked him out of bed in my post wake rage.
We are all missing what’s going on after the credits. It isn’t all opera, red gowns, and soundtracks but it is romance, and in possibly it’s sweetest, most wonderful form. We hear so many cases today of relationships breaking down because the spark has gone, and perhaps it is, or perhaps we are so accustomed to thinking that the absolute fireworks, passion, and romance of a new relationship should be forever that we tell ourselves it isn’t working. Yes, a spark and chemistry are important but let’s not forget that sparks do not live forever. They are not limitless beings. They need to be tended constantly and ultimately they do die out. Edward Lewis doesn’t climb up the fire escape each week with red roses and a swoon-worthy line. I certainly am not casting one of the greatest Hollywood movie romances to the ashes though. I am convinced that the credits roll and many years later Vivian is sat on her custom chaise lounge in her old Rolling Stones tee eating cold noodles vying for those days of diamonds and raunchy evenings on a grand piano but also counting down the seconds until Edward gets home from his latest billion dollar business trip.
If only the movie industry were only permitted to release Richard Curtis romantic comedies. The ones that make us ugly cry because the moments are true and painfully relatable. Bridget Jones with her dodgy makeup because she didn’t apply it in the right lighting, Emma Thompson heartbroken when she finds THAT necklace, Rachel McAdams trying on dress after dress in About Time in an emotional flurry. Now that isn’t to say these movies are realistic, they are movies after all and there is a reason we all flood to watch them in our gaggles of friends. They are truer though, they show the tough side of love, the side that comes after the whirlwind, the side that reminds us that there is more to relationships than opera gowns and soundtracks. There are marigold hot water balloons, pizza takeaways and surprise cups of tea. What more could you want?