I'm about to head off on a little holiday/vacation with my lovely husband to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary (yes, thank you for noticing I was a child bride).
I have an idea for a novel I think I'll start while we're away but of course the anniversary has me pondering what in real life love versus love in a romance novel looks like.
Like Cassie in Hearts Afire I actually met my husband on a tropical island off the Queensland coast. I was there on my own (long and not very fabulous story involving changed plans and my own battle with chronic fatigue syndrome) and he was there as part of a TV crew. We're both from Sydney but I don't think we would have ever met here so I guess it was, as they say, destiny.
We're very different people - like totally different - and I don't think many people thought we'd last long enough to get married and probably once we did marry doubted we'd last this long. And I can see why they felt that way. Since then we've done some crazy stuff together - he ran for office and I ran his political campaign (with a lot of help from my friends), we've built a house (maybe one day we'll even finish it) , we've travelled, we've volunteered, we've danced till dawn more often than I can count and of course we've had our beautiful daughter. That's the stuff that makes up the fabric of your life.
I'm quite romantic in the hearts and flowers sense. Heart shaped pancakes for breakfast on Valentine's Day (sure), the perfect gift (absolutely) while my husband is really not-so-much. Although in fairness I certainly do get bunches of flowers more than most women I know and he has embraced the all important - flowers from the petrol station don't count, rule and he certainly will notice how I look and says lovely things to me, a lot.
But I don't think that's what romance looks like really.
Romance is when you have morning sickness for 22 weeks and he gets you to hospital, gets you some meds and drives you around with a bucket in your lap for that whole time.
Romance is after you have that baby and you're miserable in hospital (on day 4) bringing you a bottle of wine and hot pasta to your hospital room because no one can regenerate on hospital food.
Romance is giving your mother a hand when she needs it. (New pathway, sure. Moving house, no problem. Want that light bulb changed, Ok.)
Romance is bringing you a cup of tea and all your favourite bits of the Sydney Morning Herald so you can read in bed on a Saturday morning.
Romance is showing up and helping.
Romance is designing and creating a mosaic mirror together.
Romance is picking you and your friends up after dinner so you can all enjoy an adult beverage or two.
Romance is being nice to your partner's friends and making them welcome in your home.
Romance is hanging in the hammock at the end of the day having a chat.
Romance is dancing like a maniac until 3am.
Romance is bringing extra hankies to a funeral because he knows you will definitely need them.
Romance is speaking kindly to you and about you.
Romance is dangling a child by their ankles and tickling them (or chasing them round the room or pushing them on a swing or playing My Little Pony with them).
Romance is telling every person he meets that you've written a book and handing them a postcard about it (it's embarrassing and romantic all at once).
So I guess you could say we have had a fairly romantic time of it over the years by my own definition anyway. It's just that it might not be such an exciting book to read.