December 15, 2015
The other night one of my friends in Madrid went on a date. The rest of us went to a nearby restaurant just in case the date wasn’t going well and she needed an intervention. At first, we wanted to go the same restaurant they were going to but then decided it was safer to go to a different one because I would be the person unable to control my laughter as soon as we walked in and saw them sitting there, causing unnecessary embarrassment to all.
So there we were, sitting around a table in Peggy Sue’s diner when the conversation turned to the topic of love. It’s sort of a funny picture, now that I think about it. Four girls from different parts of the world, sitting in a diner that serves American food, talking about love while I simultaneously tried to change the Jukebox to play ‘Summer Nights’ from Grease. As we talked, it became apparent that my view of love is distinctly more positive than any of theirs. I don’t know if this is because I haven’t been in love yet or because I haven’t had my heart-broken in the same way they have, or because I’m naturally just an overly optimistic person.
My wish for myself is that even if I do get my heart badly broken one day, I won’t stop believing in love and happy endings. I hope I never become jaded or bitter or scared to love. People often tell me that I believe in fairy-tales too much and that I’m going to be disappointed because real life isn’t like that. But don’t people realize that fairy-tales also have dragons, and bad guys, and set-backs? In my whole life, I’ve never read one fairy-tale where the protagonist finds love or treasure or peace without any sort of struggle or need for perseverance. People also tell me that I’ve watched too many Disney movies and that Disney has distorted the reality of love to appear as simple as singing woodland creatures, pretty dresses, and hair being perfectly held together by a single ribbon. But again, I cannot name one Disney movie in which the princess found her prince without some sort of obstacle, hardship, sacrifice, or act of courage. Fairy-tales and Disney movies don’t teach young children that love is easy. They teach us that love is hard – but not impossible. So the next time somebody tells me I believe in fairy tales too much, my response will be “I know, and you should too.”
Maybe falling in love is a lot like eating a pizza. Pizza is good; I love pizza. But suppose I were to get sick after eating a piece and blamed pizza for that bad experience to the point where even just the thought of it would be enough to make me queasy. It would be so sad if I were to hate pizza and never want to try it again. In the same way, if I were to have a bad experience with love, I hope I would be brave enough to give it another chance. I hope I wouldn’t swear it off for the rest of my life, and I hope you wouldn’t either. Because just as there are different kinds of pizza to eat, there are different kinds of people to love. Just because one flavor made you sick, doesn’t mean they all will. Maybe you’ll have to be adventurous and try flavors that you never thought you’d like before you find the one you could eat for the rest of you life, or maybe you’ll surprise yourself and grow to love one that you previously hated. Because despite the bad experience, pizza is ultimately good. And I like to believe that love is too. (This is such a cheesy comparison)
On another note, since I arrived in Europe, some people have been asking me about love and if I’ve found a boyfriend etc. When I respond with ‘no’, it’s almost as though I get their pity in return and that bothers me. It bothers me that some people seem to think I came to Europe in pursuit of love and that if I don’t find it, my trip won’t be fulfilling. As though out of all the reasons a person would travel to Europe, finding a boyfriend must be the number one priority.
Has the idea of falling in love in Europe crossed my mind? Yes, especially when I’m sitting on a bench listening to a guy with a guitar singing about love while I watch couples happily stroll by or when I think about all the movies I’ve seen where they make falling in love in a foreign place seem so fun and easy. Lately, most of my fantasies revolve around asking a random stranger to take a photo of me with the Peter Pan statue in Kensington Gardens who later reveals himself to be Harry Styles. Or smiling at a random baby at the park who unbeknownst to me at the time, just so happens to be accompanied by his Uncle Harry (the prince) who’s taking out his nephew for family bonding time.
Anyway, falling in love in Europe is just a girlish dream in my head that’s fun to think about every once in a while. It’s fun to imagine telling my kids I met their dad walking along the Seine in Paris or on a bus to Prague that we both missed. Ultimately though, I came to Europe to find a lot of things but finding love was never on my list. If it happens to find me, I guess that’s a different story, but it’s not as though I’m looking down cobble-stone lanes or behind statues in museums in the hope that love will be waiting there for me.
Because yes, I want to fall in love. But there is so much more I want to do too.