Monday, July 7, 2008

"Notebook Love"

Most of us have seen the movie "The Notebook," or we know what it's about. Noah and Allie meet as young adults, fall in love, are driven apart by Allie's parents only to meet again years later, marry, have children, and eventually ... grow old and die together. Tears pop into my eyes even as I write this. I cried shamelessly throughout "The Notebook." I think even some of the men who saw it cried. We all want Notebook love, who wouldn't? It's the most beautiful, pristine love that one can aspire to have. Nothing wrong with that. It's a noble aspiration.But ... are we Notebook people?

What makes us think that we deserve Notebook love?I've (somewhat resignedly) had to admit to myself that I am a Notebook girl. I've always been a Notebook girl. My loves have been infrequent, but always true, always with the intention of it lasting forever (even if it didn't). The thought of landing softly in a man's bed without first giving him ownership of my heart and soul doesn't occur to me. So yeah, I'm a throw-back, a romantic, old-fashioned, old school ... all of those. If I could pick a movie for my life, I'd be Jane Seymour's Elise in "Somewhere in Time," strolling about the grounds of the hotel grounds in a white linen dress with Christopher Reeve on my arm.

That's just so geeky. It's hard to be a Notebook girl in this modern world. Perhaps that's why the movie was set in the 1940's; certainly the plot wouldn't ring very true today. Values are different. I've met a few guys who weren't bad people. They were interesting and engaging and yes, even sexy, but they weren't Notebook guys, so we mixed like oil and water. Nothing was ever taken past the initial coffee date, because most of them figured out that I was a Notebook girl. You know, the kind who wants a spiritual connection and possible forever-after.

That's why I'm dating, so I can find the very last love of my life. But you know, people want different things at different times. You have to find the person who wants the same thing. You're either a Notebook person or you're not. Look at Noah. Even after he lost Allie, he dedicated his life to fixing up the old house that she loved. Maybe she'd come back to him, maybe not; maybe in Noah's mind, he was willing to wait for another woman like Allie to come along, someone who made him feel exactly that way.

But it was his love that inspired him to create an object of beauty. Noah wasn't entirely virginal, but he wasn't about hooking up either. Nor was Allie, heck, she almost married another man. She loved him too. But she made a decision, and she chose Noah. It's only a movie, that much is true. But certain movie characters you can relate to more than others. There have been a lot of Notebook marriages in my family, a lot of Noahs and Allies. That shaped me, hearing those romantic stories of "when we first met" -- the first dates, the proposals, the weddings ... even the hard times.

Especially those. So how does a Notebook girl see the world? I can only tell you from my perspective. I believe in love. I believe in marriage. I love seeing families out at the park. Mom, dad, kids ... grandparents. I love hearing the girls down by the pool talk about planning their weddings. Their faces light up, and they use that beautiful "we speak" when they discuss flowers, caterers, honeymoon vacations. Some people might see a fifty percent divorce rate. A lot of us have bought the $200 place setting for the couple that breaks up after a year, so why not be jaded? I'm not jaded. I see only Noahs and Allies.

Notebook couples. I believe in taking it slooooow. A close friend got engaged after a year's courtship. She's been married before, he's been engaged, both are in their mid-thirties. They're waiting to have sex until their wedding night. I think this is beautiful. No, they're not rabid fundamentalists; they learned from past mistakes. Foregoing physical intimacy has been difficult, but my gal pal told me, "That's how I know he loves me. He's stood by me anyway and put up with all my bullshit." And she's right -- a man who didn't love her would have left. So if the old way of doing things hasn't worked, you find a new way.I believe that monogamy is far easier than we make it.

Some may disagree, but I think we dilute monogamy when we convince ourselves it's okay to take lovers without the love. I consider the married couples I know who are together after many years. The ones that stand out in my mind are those who've only had one lover: each other. They're still standing firm while other marriages around them splinter apart. Coincidence? Maybe not. Notebook couples see only each other, not the chances that passed them by. I've jumped the gun. Because I loved more deeply than I ever had, I asked him to promise that I would never again have another. He made me that promise; my decision to love him was set in stone.

First love is sweet, but gosh, nothing makes one's spirit soar more than finding your last love. It turned out to be a lie. Maybe not intentionally. When it ended, it was hard. He didn't make me feel like a Notebook girl, so I wondered -- am I really? But now that time has passed, I realize that I hadn't changed. He'd never met Allie before; he didn't recognize Allie. But I can tell you that for a brief while, it was pure bliss to look at this man and think, "This is my one. This is my only. This is my Noah."

We establish our worth early in a relationship. In those moments of intimacy, you open the door to your heart and soul; you risk and hazard all. You alone decide what that particular gift is worth. Is it worth a single encounter? A couple of months? Or a lifetime? If you know, don't hesitate. Ask for the lifetime, if that's what you want. You either love someone unconditionally or you don't. Holding off for the good stuff won't change your feelings, if that love is true. Noah and Allie had passion together. But they eventually became old and infirm, and passion didn't matter anymore. So will we grow old. We'll live through illness and crises and raising children. Then one of us will eventually usher our beloved mate into that otherworldly plane.
Right now three things remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love." That's 1 Corinthians 13:13. Regardless of your beliefs, those are such beautiful words. And they are the premise of "The Notebook," that idea that there is still a love so great that not even time nor disaster can move it. I think that's why we cried during the movie, why it filled us with such intense yearning for that love. You might have to wait a long time for it to come around. You might have to exercise patience. You might have to put your energies into other things -- things of beauty, created out of the passion you find within yourself. You might have to change everything about your life and how you life it. But if you believe, you will find him or her, that very special person who will give you Notebook love. And through your love, anything will be possible.

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