You’re sitting in the cinema and you’ve been together forever now, (I mean, if push came to shove you know you wouldn’t hesitate to wipe his arse if he was too drunk to do it himself) but he still puts his hand on your knee at that part in the film where he asks her to marry him, and you wonder how you got here. The here where we’re talking about romance and wiping arses all in the same sentence, but hey isn’t that the real face of love! After all the awkward cinema dates with f*ck boys who didn’t know your worth or even your name for that matter. The ones who you would have forced yourself to laugh at the same sucky bits of the film as he did, just so he thought you were in his league. You even skipped popcorn for him so he thought you were a skinny mofo, didn’t you? Goddd, that’s the real tragedy in all this. No man is worth missing out on popcorn for, not even Chris sexy back Pratt.
Maybe he was one of them once. Not exactly a f*ck boy, I think that’s a bit strong for the guy whose famous chat up line was, ‘I have a dog and two cats…’ I think I’m in pretty safe hands here. Though I don’t doubt that he was once just a 17 year old guy, wondering if he should suggest the back row and stretch his arm out over her top knot. Maybe he broke someone’s heart along the way, but look at him now. He’s a man. I’m sat next to a real life man, with a pretty damn good moral compass even if he does have a terrible taste in socks and AND he knows how to spell my name. Result. Haha, I suppose I had a bit of a random realisation, one I can’t say I was expecting as we sat down to watch a film about someone who woke up too early in space, ahem. Well, now here I am, nudging my 30s and only just waking up in many ways too. Same cinema seats, same girl, only this time I’m with the guy who asks me if I want Pick N Mix and nachos with my popcorn. Halle-fricking-lujah. One minute, you’re there wishing one of your pals would throw in that emergency phone call to get you the hell out of there, and now you’re the weirdo staring at this bloke sat next to you instead of watching Chris Pratt strutting about with no pants like every other person in the audience. It’s such an ordinary moment, him in his grey hoodie, engrossed in the Sci-Fi or Jennifer Lawrence’s amazing wavy lob haircut, there’s really no telling which (or her abs, but probably her lob right?). He’s oblivious to all this running through my head probably because ya know, he never had to be the girl who skipped popcorn and sat through a film like Black Swan… there’s only one reason guys wanna see that movie and it starts with M and ends in naked Kunis.
In that moment I felt so overwhelmingly grateful for him. So what if I did have to kiss a few knobs in the Odeon to get here, I’d do it all again if it meant that it led me to the same point because he has helped me make sense of everything before him. He’s made going through all the breakups and the hyperventilating into my own snot bubbles totally worth it. Even if the way he eats a chocolate mousse does give me a physical reaction and not in a good way. You know what I’m like with the teeth on cutlery sound. Anyhow, this isn’t meant to be one of those hold up guys let me just grab my Pharrell hat while I crow about how happy I am, gloat gloat gloat. It’s more of a me voicing my own surprise at how things do just have a way of working out. And more than that, they work out for the better.
My mum always says you learn something from every relationship and she’s right, however heartbroken you are or will be in the future there’s always something valuable to salvage from anything that was once meaningful to you. Awkward AF cinema dates aside, it’s the long standing relationships you let go of that hurt the most. It’s very easy to look back on that period of your life with a heavy heart that it didn’t work out, especially when you had invested so much of yourself in that person, only to have to confront the fact that it didn’t work. You failed him. He failed you and you have nothing but disappointment, devastation and a dozen empty wine bottles to show for it. You did the inevitable human thing and gave up on each other. You ran. Or, you could look back and think, I had a great relationship and I was fortunate to find that, but I was younger then, we were different people and we had things that we needed to do – away from the ‘us’ that we had spent however many years building.
Timing, it can make or break the strongest of bonds. It can rip the rug right from under your feet with no warning at all, no signs, nothing actually to call out as wrong, as such, but you know it isn’t right which somehow makes it more painful, so you say the words you never ever anticipated you’d say. You say goodbye. Through gasps for air maybe, but for the right reasons. That relationship wasn’t a waste of time, or a failure, far from it actually. What did you learn? You learnt that despite feeling like you could never exist without that person being there, you can and you are and you’re stronger for it. You learnt that he was exactly what you needed for a long time and you can be grateful for that for the rest of your life, if you wish to be. And you learnt exactly what core values you do and do not want from a relationship. Finding lessons in hardship, I think that’s what they call it. In some ways the f*ck boys that we lost in our teens even taught us some kind of proverbial lesson: Never skip the popcorn – never stop dipping your hand into that bucket of opportunities and of new chances to be happy, because even if you don’t know if you’re gonna get sweet or salted, or if you’re scared you’re gonna chomp down and get hurt by one of those good for nothing hard caramelised balls at the bottom of the pile, what you find could be even better than the previous batch. Love you bye!
Photography by Olivia Foley