As a romance writer, I get asked A LOT if I actually believe in true love, that romance really exists. The 'love at first sight' kind of thing, the 'happily ever after' deal... all of it. I've been told that though "Hearts of Ishira" doesn't have a lot of conflict between the heroine and her heroes, it's still a very engaging and real love story.
There's a reason for that.
I write what I know, and what I know is that my entire life, I have been surrounded by true love and mostly happily ever after.
My parents met and married within 6 weeks. When did my dad know he wanted to marry mom? When she used a four syllable word correctly. He knew then and there that he wanted this woman to be the mother of his children, and he was completely taken with her as a person. He knew on their second date that he wanted to marry her. It took him two more weeks to convince her of that. Now, there have been occasions when she's grouched about 'being had'. There have been bumps along the way, and a separation or two. But in the end, they couldn't stay apart for very long. So 6 weeks from first date to the wedding, and 44 years later... here we are.
I have to think about how long they've been together... it's one year longer than I've been alive... the old bitties at Mom's church sure were blushing when she didn't start 'showing' after awhile. They were SURE she'd gotten herself pregnant, and they HAD to get married that quickly. But nope! I came along a respectable year and a half later, thank you!
The cool thing is, my folks could NEVER complain that a relationship I was in was moving too fast. :D "Really?" I'd say. "Pot? This is Kettle... gonna have to call bullshit on that." teehee
I've been in love a couple of times. Not just 'thought' I was in love, but truly, honestly, completely in love. Well, I loved the first one. He wasn't as in love with me as I was with him, obviously, or we'd still be together. There was someone else who held his heart more tightly, though, and when it came time for him to choose... he didn't choose me. I understand he's happy as can be, and I'm really glad.
Because I am, too.
Sal is my happily-ever-after, at least so far. He is also my 'love at first meeting'. Here's the story:
I worked as an assistant manager in a small bookstore in the mall. My dad and I had this silly bet... I'd been complaining about being single, so he bet me that if I wore my hair up every time I went out, for the entire month of November, I'd end up with a keeper.
I HATE it when Daddy's right! LOL
So anyway... the morning Sal and I met, I'd asked my boss about a book that had been special ordered and never picked up. It was an autographed Robert Jordan book. My boss tells me to go ahead and put it out for sale, since the guy never came to pay for it.
Well, that day, Sal was in the mall with family and he wandered into the bookstore (as any self-respecting geek/bibliophile is wont to do). I was there with two of my employees, Heather and Ruth. Heather was a teenager, Ruth was a retiree, and both of them were trying to fix me up with our manager. *shudder* Mark wasn't a bad guy... he just was nowhere near my type. I was a little hottie back then, if I do say so myself. :) I could do better. :D Well, so Ruth gets a bit frustrated and asks, "Well, then, what IS your type?"
Fortunately we got busy around that time (it was about lunch time, if I recall correctly), and I didn't get to answer her.
Enter Sal. He came in, looked around for a bit, then bought a whole box of Magic the Gathering booster packs. $100, right there. I think he might have bought another book, but I'm not sure. Anyhow, there was a line, so I gave good customer service while Heather and Ruth rang folks up. Sal and I talked. And talked. And talked... He bought his cards, but in the course of our conversation, he'd found out that I was a geek, too, and enjoyed sci-fi. So instead of leaving after his purchase, he asked if I could recommend a new sci-fi series for him to get into. *grin* more time! yay!
I walked him back to that section and pointed out a few of the popular series, all of which he'd read already. I got to the Anne McCaffrey section, pointed out which of those he might want to start with, and since they were my all-time favorites, I was really gushing about them. But when I looked up after asking him a question, he wasn't looking at the books at all... he was watching me, with this sweet grin on his face. :)
I think we talked for nearly two hours that day, and never once exchanged names. It never occurred to us that we needed to. We'd found each other, at last, and it just never dawned on us that we wouldn't see each other again.
Well, the folks he rode with (who I'll admit had been pretty damned patient with him for flirting for two hours when they were ready to go home) finally got him to leave, but only after I sold him the Robert Jordan autographed book, which he already had a copy of, but his wasn't autographed, of course. :) So we like to tell people that 'I sold him a book he already had and we fell in love'.
As he's walking away with his family, out of ear-shot, I look at Ruth and Heather (who are now wearing equally shit-eating grins) and point toward Sal and say, "Now THAT'S my type!" Ruth leaned over the counter, following him with her gaze, and sighs, saying, "Honey, that's everyone's type!"
The following two weeks were straight out of a romantic comedy, with my co-workers doing their best to hook us up, but with Sal and I missing each other every time. He came in to see me several times, but always when I was off, out to lunch, or something. One day, I had just barely missed him, and Heather actually ran out into the mall, trying to find him, because it had only been about five minutes since he'd been in there. Maybe less. She was so frustrated! It was adorable.
When he finally came back in when I was working, I think he was wearing a Phantom of the Opera sweatshirt. I asked him out... after we exchanged names! :D
That night was our first date. It lasted 15 hours and all we did was talk. Well, mostly that's all we did. We DID get run out of the mall parking lot about 3am for fogging up the windows in his Tracker. *teehee* But that was just kissing. Had to sample the goods, ya know. Especially since I'd already proposed to him three times by then. Hey, he admitted he was wrong about something, he knew all the words to the Starblazers theme song, and he did something that was truly heroic, but I can't talk about that here. Suffice to say, he had already won my heart. :)
In the 16 years since then, we've been through an awful lot. I'm 100 pounds heavier than I was when we met, and broken in a lot of ways. We've lost babies together, worked through my hysterectomy together. We've bought and lost a house, we've come back to school, and this year sees both of us fulfilling life-long dreams... I'm now a published author, doing what I've always loved, and he will be graduating from college in May, with degrees in education and math. He's going to be a high school math teacher.
Amazingly enough, though I come from a long line of HEA, he does not. His experience with married folks was horrifically different from mine. In the end, it took us 11 years to get married, most of that because he was convinced that we would end up like his parents. It took that long for us to figure out that we could never end up like them, because we were US. And our US is amazing. :) He doesn't see a chubby 40-something woman who barely comes up to his chin... he sees the goddess that he feels I am in spirit. He loves me, no matter what, and has proven that in so many ways, the man should be sainted. I've done some compromising, as well, but nowhere near what he has.
So... do I really believe in romance? In true love? In love at first sight? In looking at someone, talking to them, and just knowing that this is it, this is the one?
Absolutely, to all of the above.
I could claim a bit of psychic ability (which I possess and yes, I can prove it... I have witnesses!), and I'm sure some of that was in play. I could claim that we were meant for each other, and we both believe that, whole-heartedly. There are times we'll say something so silly or so very wrong that we look at each other and just know that the universe knows what it's doing, pairing us up!
And did you know that my husband is incredbly, painfully shy? Neither did I, for awhile. The man that I talked non-stop with for two hours, then for 15 hours (we did stop long enough to watch a movie that first date), the man that is a chatterbox most of the time I'm around, is NOT like that with anyone else, other than family.
The clincher, I think, was when he gave me a star. Yup. There's a star in Casseopiea with my name on it. Well, my maiden name. Not my married name. :) It was amazing, but I'll tell that story another time. :)
And you know when he proposed to me? Two weeks before the wedding.
He would have done it before I walked down the aisle, but I threatened to kill him dead if he waited till the day of our wedding to propose to me!
So does romance still exist?
You bet your sweet bippy it does!
Why do I write about it?
Well, they tell you to write what you know. I don't know a lot about much, but I know an awful lot about love. I hope that comes through in my writing.
Sal and I at my brother's wedding two summers ago... Sal was best man, I was matron of honor.
Yeah... that's my man!
When he still let himself have hair... :D
This was in Panama, I believe, when he was in the Army. And folks wonder why I love military men... :D
At our wedding, obviously, cutting the cake! :D
My mom and dad, at our wedding in 2007
Sal watching me walk down the aisle... I cried when I saw this picture... he looks so happy!!! And in love! How can I not love this man??
At our wedding... 11 years together at that point, and we still look like we like each other a little bit. Not too bad! :D