Looking for love

Madison Geering, Editor-in-Chief

I used to think that the glittering main menu that popped up before a movie played was the gateway to heaven. ‘Play movie,’ ‘scene selections’ and ‘special features’ buttons smiled down at me from the screen, as if they knew sacred secrets.

Of course, you would have several snapshots of your lovable female protagonist flash behind the menu options. In one photo, she’s clutching the arm of her charming love interest. In another, she pensively stares from a coffee shop window as raindrops streak down the glass. And in another, she smartly raises one arched eyebrow, challenging you to press ‘play.’

And I did. Over and over and over again. From underneath my pink High School Musical blanket, a seven-year-old version of myself couldn’t help the sparkle in her eyes as Jennifer Garner flitted through the film looking positively “thirty, flirty and thriving.”

I was young when I first tasted my favorite poison: romantic comedies. I saw Meg Ryan, Jennifer Lopez and Sandra Bullock dance across the screen, strutting to success in kitten heels, as they searched for the most beautiful thing in all the land.

They were looking for love.

They were looking for a handsome Tom Hanks, Matthew McConaughey or Ryan Reynolds to sweep them off their feet. More than anything else, endless supplies of boxed chocolates, sappy monologues and unrealistic happily-ever-after’s would complete their lives. 

That narrative hypnotized me. Long after I donated my High School Musical blanket to Goodwill, I still sat fixed to the couch, replaying the same movies. I was in perpetual awe at the whirlwind of enchantment, intrigue and glamour that was promised to me by the time the credits started rolling.

That must be love, I thought. It has to be. That fantastical flutter through romance, fed to me through film. And so I started looking for it, just like I was supposed to.

But I couldn’t seem to find it. In my world, there was no soundtrack, no stage design, no storyline to bring me happiness in a flurry of rose petals and cliches. It seemed that, no matter how hard I looked, love was nowhere to be found in my life.

For hours, I sat frozen in my living room, washed in the magenta glow of the television screen, feeling betrayed. I would stare so hard at the arrangement of pixels before me, eyes bloodshot and stinging, wondering where love lives when the movie ends. I wanted so badly for it to be real, but every time I looked for it, all I found was static.

Then it came to me. Andie the ‘How-To Girl’ could teach me How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, but she would never teach me how to find love in my life. I was obsessing over a type of love that doesn’t exist, instead of accepting the type that does.

A noise at the end of the hallway brought me back to reality. The TV was still playing, but I turned to see my little brother peeking his head out from his bedroom door. His hair was disheveled and he was only wearing one sock; my heart swelled at the sight. I took him into my arms, shushing his soft sobs and assuring him that there was no monster under his bed.

As I carried him back to his room, I clicked the ‘power off’ button on the remote.

Maybe we’re looking for love. But maybe we’re looking in the wrong places. Doesn’t it seem too easy, too obvious, for it to be right there in our living rooms? 

It must be hidden in the folds of our lives. Between the way you stumble around your room when you’re late for school and the loud family dinners and the strangers who smile at you in the hall. It must be tucked in the corners of our day, where we hold our little siblings’ hand in the parking lot and help each other with math problems and ask ‘how are you’ and really mean it. 

It lives in the nooks and crannies. In the way you pack your lunch for tomorrow and tuck yourself into bed and wake up again in the morning. Maybe love is elusive, not because it’s some grand, romantic chase, but because it’s so simple that our complicated minds reject it. 

We’re all looking for love—in movies, in magazines, in media—desperate to find the answer. But perhaps if we opened our eyes, we wouldn’t have to look for love. 

We would just see it.