Comments 7

The Everyday Love Story

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Photo credit: Emma Jane Kepley

A boy I once dated told me he wanted to be a lawyer because his dad was a lawyer, and it seemed like the right thing to do. When I told him I wanted to be a writer because it seemed like the ONLY thing to do, he told me writing was not a legitimate profession. I decided, while he fondly admired his parents’ law degrees and sipped mint juleps, that I would write him up and down, backward and forward, inside and out, until he had no choice but to eat his own words for breakfast. That boy soon became nothing more than a few lines in this little love story…And a lawyer.

It was then I realized I was never cut out to be the girl who gets the guy at the end of the romance novel. In fact, Nicholas Sparks didn’t write a single love story with me in mind. Nicolas Sparks wrote me out of all his stupid love stories the minute

I learned how to pick up my pen and write the damn story myself:

In my romance novel, the two lovers stray from their countryside love affair to indulge in buffalo wings and a Celtics game. “The Best Of Me” is just an amalgamation of quirks that fall short of leading lady material. I refuse to do math. I cook with the fridge open. I sleep with my socks on. I need music to function. I’m violently ticklish. You’ll think it’s funny at first but it quickly loses its appeal once I kick you in the teeth a few times. It will be an accident I won’t apologize for because you probably deserved it. I warned you.

Speaking of sleep, I hate bed sheets. To be clear, not the fitted kind. I’m not a sociopath. Impossible as they may be to fold, I understand their place in the paradigm. Regular sheets stress me out. It doesn’t matter if they’re flannel, cotton, silk, or  I don’t know…bamboo? I always wake up feeling like Criss Angel trapped in a double straight jacket. God forbid I tumble out of bed like a burrito rolling down a hill, only to be left dangling by my ankles in my underwear.

It’s a very real fear.


Photo credit: Emma Jane Kepley

And while I don’t have abandonment issues, Daddy issues, intimacy issues, or commitment issues, don’t worry, I’ve got issues. They just aren’t scalable enough to turn into a 300-page book, or simple enough to squeeze onto some shitty Marilyn Monroe refrigerator magnet. You know the one. I’m selfish, impatient, and a little insecure. Bullshit. I’m a lot impatient. I’m impatient with slow walkers, slow wi-fi, slow lines, and the when my Amazon order doesn’t arrive on time. I’m impatient with poor subway etiquette, poor communication, and when someone calls, and you call them back immediately, and they don’t pick up the phone. “Where could you possibly have gone in thirty seconds?” Is all I’m saying.

I am not your “Safe Haven”. You have to be whole on your own or this whole thing breaks down, ya feel me? I’m not here to gentrify whatever mess the last girl left you in. I’m not here to rebuild your ruins so the next girl can move in. I’m not interested in the last girl or the next girl at all.

You have to rebuild yourself.

I’m not going to waste my valuable time fixing you when I’m still working out my own kinks. I think in real life, people have kinks. Nicholas Sparks always seems to write one deeply flawed character with tons of kinks, and one noble, do-it-all for love character whose primary job is to save said “kinky” individual from inevitable self-destruction. Here comes the dirty joke: I have plenty of kinks and they’re out in the open, mostly on the internet for your viewing pleasure.

(I was talking about my writing, you pervert.)

See: Making dirty jokes.

Happily Ever After is garbage. I want nothing to do with the fairytale if it means pretending anger, frustration, disappointment, and other perfectly acceptable, uncomfortable human emotions aren’t a part of the story. If you think you can get through life without disappointing the people you care about, I’ll take one for the team and disappoint you first. It will hard to love me sometimes. I hope, in those moments, you’ll love me a little extra. You will disappoint me, too. Ohhhh, you will disappoint me greatly. At some point I’ll be SO disappointed, I’ll struggle to articulate how I’m feeling. (Did you just roll your eyes? I saw that.) I’ll congratulate you for being the only man to leave this writer lost for words. In the morning, when we’re done being disappointed with each other, I’ll sit on the counter while you make us coffee and we’ll laugh at that joke.

That’s the everyday love story I want to be a part of. The one that finds humor hidden beneath the piles of dirty dishes.

So write this down in your “Notebook.” I’m not The Party Girl, The Cool Girl, or The It Girl. I’m not The Lady in the Streets, The Freak in the Sheets, or The Bring Home to Mom Girl. I’m not The Sporty Girl, your Babygirl, or any of the other Spice Girls. None of these girls are singularly real. Somedays I’m all of them, other days I’m none of them, and I’m not ashamed of that. I refuse to be whittled down to one archetype who can’t figure out what the hell she wants because she’s too busy being someone she isn’t.

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Photo credit: Emma Jane Kepley

I do know what I want.

I want a courageous, messy, flaw-filled love. A love incapable of fitting between bookends. One that doesn’t mind getting lost as long as it finds its way back. What I want is for you to have a mind of your own, and to know that it’s okay if you change it a million times. I promise I’ll be here to help you sort through it. I want a love that dares to get close enough to step on my toes. One that is so unafraid of hurting my feelings that honesty is the only expectation. A love that laughs so hard it farts, because farts don’t happen in Nicholas Sparks novels and that kind of cheeky rebellion pleases me.  (That wasn’t exactly what Nicholas Sparks had in mind when he wrote “The Last Song”, AMIRITE?)

What I don’t want is for you to be perfect. I don’t want you have it all together. I don’t want you to have it all. I don’t want to have all of you. It’s unfair to think we’re entitled to every part of a person just because we’ve mashed our schedules, and friend groups, and belief systems, and body parts together. Instead, let’s challenge each other to become better people than we were before we met. The chase is not a challenge. Dogs chase things. I’m not a dog. I’m not a bird if you’re a bird. Birds are kind of the worst. I’ve never seen anyone get super excited about birds.

I want love I’m super excited about.

So if you let it slide that I kick the bedsheets to the bottom of the bed, I’ll let it slide that everything in your life is organized alphabetically. Know that once in a while, I’m going to shake things up just to see if you’re paying attention. Relax, I’ll put it all back. That’s what we all want right? Somebody who isn’t going peel away every complex fiber of our being until all that’s left is Allie, Noah, and the stupid birds. Somebody who understands that we’re all just trying to stay afloat. You know — just not on a door in the middle of the North Atlantic with a sinking ship behind us.

Wait — that wasn’t Nicholas Sparks.

You get the idea.


  1. David says

    Really great piece Carley, fun to read and to relate to.

  2. I love how you spelled out exactly what you are looking for…or preparing someone else for the adventure of Carly, should they choose to come aboard. I’m a firm believer that you only get what you ask for…so be specific.

    When I worked out what I wanted, it came to me…literally, 3000 miles away, a beacon in the night. I knew right away, he didn’t…but I was patient. We were pen pal buddies for two months before he figured it out. Our first date was a week long and it would be another three months before the second. We have never stopped the second date and we’ve been together 11 years. The only thing that has changed is our age.

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