Essay · Rudimentary Philosophy

Purporting Romance Mythically

Romance is an exercise in myth building.

When a new relationship is on the rise, budding rosebuds are gathered while the wilted are buried away. We pull together moments and save artifacts and write a history for our lives as newly paired duos. We destroy, to an extent, our former lives. We become revisionist historians, carefully deciding who and what we bring up in conversation and who and what we choose to keep unspoken. Regulating these filters essentially enables us to kill off the characters of our past.

Romance is the path upon which we tread on our search for the complementary other our childlike faith in love proclaims we have been promised. Therefore, when a romance buds, our eyes remain open. This might be it! We attempt to suspend our perspectives between the calculative and the contemplative.

We look at a multitude of factors. We look to parental figures or older brothers and sisters or archetypical examples of love and romance in the books and movies and television shows we consume. We look back on relationships that have failed and we wonder why. We adjust (as well as we can) behaviors and desires and actions that might have led to the crumbling foundation of those previous relationships. Our revising may be harmful, but we have gotten to the point where we need to make it work and a slight misrepresentation here and a biting of the tongue there won’t hurt, will it?

The factor we gaze upon most speculatively, with an expanding hope for potential, is this new romancer whose interest we have caught. We look to this freshly introduced character for a confidence the existence of which we may no longer believe exists in our self, depending on the narrative structure of our previous romances. Depending on how damaging the burns were or how long ago final pages of that story were turned. We tell ourselves that we won’t let history repeat itself when it comes to another attempt at the romantic myth, but in many ways we feel comfort at least knowing that we will survive if it does. Is this why we never give ourselves fully after our earth was first scorched?

We have not all of us been burned by another or by ourselves on account of another’s memory. Some of us might never come up against that heat. For us who have, may we clearer see the futility in the myth-building of romance. Hope for love and romance and throwing logic and caution to the wind is not necessarily abandoned by those of us with burns, but our gait in treading the path of romance becomes rigid in comparison with those who remain untouched by the flames. The pure. The disillusioned. The disillusioning. The happily ever afters. They are the ones who take the myth literally and have not functioned without thinking that everything they have done and has been done to them fits perfectly into an explainable process. It is not random, the process, but conversely, life is not one long equation that we can solve in the end. The people we populate our lives with are not mere integers. We, in turn, are not strictly variables.

This is not a storybook, nor was it meant to be. Purity can love a fiercely as a Promethean pragmatist. Meaning is found in the myths we build. Characters exit, their arcs incomplete. Stages collapse. Structures crumble. Theatres burn.

Still, stages are rebuilt. Instead of straining yourself to find meaning in the destruction, try this: wear the ashes of bygone fires as makeup for the next play.

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