I went straight to the airport, and arrived in London, at the party, six hours later—explaining to my editor why there was no social content. “Sorry, family emergency.” I’m sure the followers survived.
There he was. About to greet this man with the abs. But I told him I needed to speak to him. To tell him something I’d never ever been able to tell him before.
We create stories in order to simplify a complicated situation for which there seems to be no answer. That is what I have done my whole life. Subsumed myself into easy-to-understand narratives in order to find answers in places where they don’t exist. We turn ourselves into absurd main character roles in order to escape the rejection, humiliation, vulnerability, and the mirror held up to all your ugliest qualities that love can often bring with it. But this isn’t a movie, and we aren’t entitled to everything we want.
The movie did end with us together, but not in the picture-perfect rom-com way. I got back to London in time and told him, very much in reality, how I felt about him. I stood there, swallowing the entirety of my pride and most of my dignity, and was completely honest about all the feelings and fears that existed alongside my feelings for him. And only in properly confronting reality—the messy, uncomfortable, non-movie part—did he also stand there with me, a boy in front of a they, agreeing to love me back.
Sometimes it needs to be a movie. Sometimes we need to raise the stakes to see what we could lose. Sometimes we need to simplify the present and ask what our favorite heroines might do. But most of the time, the real love story lies in all the reality, in the parts that didn’t make this article and eventual A24 version of what you’ve just read.
Love stories exist in the real feelings and emotions, and there isn’t just one main character: there are two. And it’s only by letting the other one take space in your story that you can actually do what is needed to make a relationship, a love, successful: think about someone else except yourself and your silly, camp, but admittedly very fabulous, narrative.
It’s been seven years of, at moments, movie-style love. The other moments, when the cameras aren’t rolling, may well not be screen-worthy: cooking each other boring lunches, and picking up dirty socks. But it’s here that I have found the most thrill, the most intimacy, the most understanding of what it means to love and be loved. Because while slow kisses and ineffable declarations might be what we all wished for, there is something so much more intimate about picking up a pair of dirty socks and knowing by their smell that they’re his. That doesn’t make the movie, but that’s where the real love story sits.