On Relationships, Not-So-Exes, and John Hughes by Ren Martinez

It is a natural human compunction to desire connection. We are social creatures, driven by our need to develop social ties and build communities. This is biological instinct and emotional necessity all rolled into one. It’s undeniable and impossible to ignore.

Romantic relationships in particular are heralded as the top tier of human interaction. Everywhere you look, there are not-so-subtle hints that romantic love is the end-all-be-all of human interaction. From Disney movies to perfume ads, we are sold on this idea of true love being the best thing we could ever possibly attain. It is certainly true that romantic love is a wonderful thing, that intimate connection with another person that steals your breath and lights you up from inside out. It’s something so intrinsically beautiful that poets and bards and writers have been trying to craft a proper description for ages but to no avail. It’s too big, too vast, too deep for words to express.

That being said, love is hard work. So often, the film ends with the lovers reuniting at a public event (airport, office, someone else’s wedding, etc.) or in the aftermath of a battle with evil, their mouths drawn together in a kiss that seems to herald their own happily ever after. Like a John Hughes film, the shy, sweet girl finally getting to hold hands with her too-cute guy, the final scene playing to the synthesized melody of an 80’s one hit wonder. However, that’s where John Hughes rolled the credits. Very few of these document what happens after the kiss. The struggles to move in together, the trips to Ikea, sorting out the chores, parceling out what stays and what’s driven to Goodwill. Or the inevitable missteps, miscommunications, too-long car rides, criticizing with a sniper’s accuracy, heavy silences that shout. The break-ups, the make-ups, the shake-ups, the throw-my-hand-and-give-ups. Even when we try to describe these moments, they are glossed over by ink and celluloid, lines in poetry and plays.

I’ve recently reconnected with my ex-boyfriend. He and I broke up two years ago, once we came to that forked path in the yellow wood and realized that our feet were taking us on roads less-traveled. We’ve kept the silence between us comfortable and calm, allowing ourselves room to breathe/grow/learn. I moved to a new area, started graduate school, and was on my own two feet for the first time in my life. Parts of me settled into place, others disintegrated to dust, and I felt put together, a sum of all my parts rather than pieces strung together. So, when he and I met again, it wasn’t the reunion that you see at the movies. The earth didn’t move beneath my feet because I’m solidly on the ground. The air didn’t rush out of my lungs because I’m finally breathing clean. Instead, slipping my hand in his was like turning a key to your own front door. All he had to do was smile and I was home.

This isn’t the part where the credits roll. He and I are starting a conversation, not finishing it. We have compromises to make, scores to settles, and all the while relearning the people we are now rather than missing the person we left two years ago. There will be times for seriousness and for sarcasm, for laughter and logistics. We’re coming together as equals. We’re figuring this out as adults.

My life is not a John Hughes film. And thank God for that.



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