Thursday, June 3, 2010

"I want you to fight for me"

“What do you want Erica?” he asked. I wish I hadn’t been so drunk so that I could have beautifully articulated my response. It was the first and last time he seemed genuinely open to discussing what I wanted. Prior to this horribly drunken night of shamefully peeing in alleys and crying in the street he was evasive. After it, he had secretly made up his mind that it wasn’t going to work. That night I didn’t, couldn’t, speak artfully. I wasn’t too drunk. I was too emotional. So, I spoke from my heart. “I want you to fight for me”, I threw at him. He laughed. I wasn’t laughing, instead my face was still streaked with tears from earlier. He probably thought the alcohol had gotten the best of me, that I was incomprehensible. I knew what I was saying. I was very clear. If he was a fighter he would have understood too. But he wasn’t so he didn’t. And if he asked what I wanted again today I would say the same exact thing. “I want you to fight for me.”

I have this bad habit of fighting. I will fight tooth and nail. I will run myself in the ground fighting for him and if I see any headway, however small, I keep throwing punches. I play tug of war with him, with myself and I don’t exhaust. Not even a little. Even after he has grown tired I am still there trying to hold everything together, I’m not exhausted. I’m rejuvenated envisioning the end result, us happy. I will have earned my happiness because I fought for it. I’ve grown up and come to find I’m not fighting the good fight. Instead, it’s a bloody war. When I finally look up from beating this man in the stomach with my head buried in his chest I realize he’s just standing there. I realize he isn’t embracing me, not fighting back. He’s just standing there, just waiting for me to stop fighting. And then when I do, finally, all’s quiet. It’s calm. The fight is over because he was never fighting in the first place. I stand there bloody, sweat mixed with tears, eyes red. I realize that I have exhausted myself, once again with someone who stands on the other side unscathed.

The Notebook, a widely popular Nicholas Sparks book turned film, has become a movie on many women’s “favorites” list. The first time I watched it, sitting next to a high school boyfriend, it quickly became one of my favorites. I knew I was watching the ultimate love story--one that me and him would one day reenact. His departure date to college was fast approaching. I understood that while we might lose each other to the distance we would ultimately be led back to one another--it was fate. He went to Hampton University a month later and I soon came to realize we weren’t characters from a movie. We will never reenact that movie, or any other for that matter.

Every time I watch The Notebook the optimist in me, the Carrie Bradshaw of me gets giddy at the ideal of innocent uncomplicated love being undestroyed by distance, time, and reality. Every time I watch, the realist, the Samantha Jones in me, however, out-talks Carrie. Samantha tells me that these kinds of love stories are only meant for cinematic experiences. Carrie’s voice drowns out and I willingly lay in the cynicism of Samantha’s.

I am Noah Calhoun of The Notebook. Seventeen year old Noah selflessly and maturely frees Allie, the girl he loves, from his grip to enable her personal growth. He fights for her. Years later Noah builds Allie the dream house she spoke of as a seventeen year old girl. He builds a replica of her description. Noah believes that if he fights to make her dream a reality maybe their dream can be one as well. He fights. He fights for the entire duration of their relationship. He fights from the day he meets her until the very last. He initially fights, tirelessly, to convince her that he is worth having. He fights, tirelessly, to convince her that he is worth keeping. The movie concludes with an elderly Allie suffering from dementia. Noah fights to make her remember their love story. When she remembers he fights for her not to forget it. I am Noah Calhoun of The Notebook. Always fighting.

Anyone who has a certain distaste for the movie I’ve noticed has one main complaint: it’s unrealistic. I agree. The story, the journey of the character’s love is unrealistic. The love, Noah’s fighting is not. There is nothing more real than that kind of tragic love. The moment the story spirals from reality to fantasy is identifiable. The moment? Noah and Allie reuniting and magically deciding to fight together. If it was a documentary Noah would still be sitting in that perfect white house, waiting. Alone. He would have gone crazy waiting for the one person he loves to throw him just one punch. In real life there’s only one person ready for war, the other has long thrown up a white flag. The other person never returns the fight. The other person takes a more convenient road. The other person has learned that if it’s not convenient to be with the one you love then you conveniently love the one you’re with. Hopefully the fighter learns to take off their boxing gloves and do the same.

He took me for drunk, when I said “I want you to fight for me” not because my words were slurred but because what I was saying was out of the scope of his comprehension. It was not his reality to fight for a woman. If it wasn’t easy then it was over. If it seemed impossible then it was. I’m a natural fighter. I make no apologies for that. I don’t chase, I’m not delusional—I ‘m a fighter, that’s a difference the majority will sadly never understand. After I’ve wiped the sweat and tears from my face and exited the ring I look back at him still lifelessly standing there. As I look back, I don’t regret the fight in me. I regret the lack of it in him.


  1. Well.... This is more of a classical male v. female situation. Women dont quite understand men and we dont quite understand yall. But allow me to help out. Men will fight for his girl but its limited. Eventually we will drop our guard and let you knock us out if we are truly tired of it. When this happens your relationship is pretty much over. This varies man to man so do with it as you may. lol. Also that line was just so movie-ish. "I want you to fight for me." Women pay attention. NEVER SAY ANYTHING LIKE THAT!!!! EVER!!!!! In a man's head it goes something like this "Oh my God seriously she has been watching too much lifetime, sex and the city....etc..." and we laugh it off. You can't be serious right?? In the end just realize that men are emotionally lazy. We will fight for it if its worth it, the more that you put in, the more love there is the more that we will 'fight for you.' But when the fighting because too much. We will drop our hands and head out of the ring, thinking "I'll make sure the next one is nothing like her."

  2. "I want you to fight for me" is a legitimate response to the cliche, yet legitimate, question of "What do you want". I think men ask that question without realizing that the woman will give them a heartfelt answer. *sidenote* one has to remember that When that question is asked to early on in a relationship and an answer that Erica gave is given it makes men run scared. but i digress...Men use and get away with the excuse that they are "emotionally lazy" because women accept it. I think Erica's response was perfect because it let the man know she was not going to allow the "emotionally lazy" excuse to stop her from saying what she needed to. A mature man who truly liked her would not have laughed- he would've put on his boxing gloves and jumped in the ring to fight for her heart.

  3. True men do ask that question and often don't expect an answer. Its more or less a give up question. "I give up,I cant figure this out, what the hell do you want from me?" And I agree that being emotionally lazy is a terrible excuse, but for many men its true. I'm giving you all some incite....shhhh! dont tell anyone. Men learn to put in effort at work, doing physical activity, but when it comes to relationships many dont know how to handle it. Go back and listen to Musiq's Teach Me How to Love. Its as close to true as it gets. Women have to teach us and train us when it comes to emotions and relationships. We are naturally blank slates. If you work with the man long enough and the relationship grows he will put on his boxing gloves and get in the ring and fight. But even then it has to be reasonable. We will not just fight for the hell of it, there are limits to everything.

  4. Wow. I was in a situation like that once, and I had to give up when I realized that he would never step in the ring with me because he was content watching from the sidelines.

    I understand what the guys are saying about men not being wired to fight in that way. But I wish more men would be upfront and admit that they aren't willing to put in the work, rather than just go through the motions. Women take the L-word very seriously, and nothing hurts more than to find out that it was just lip service.

  5. This blog brought tears to my eyes. It's a question I've been asking my whole like "Why won't he fight for me?" It goes as deep as my relationships with my Father, brother, son and all the loves in my life. Why am I not worth fighting for? It turns inward as assuredly as the sun sets and I'm left wondering if they ever loved me.

  6. You have put into words beautifully the exact thoughts that I have had for years. Fight.
    Fight= passion. Love without passion is dead, like life, we must fight to survive if you make someone your life (which I expect is a natural response to giving yourself to someone forever aka: marriage) & if marriage is in face a sacred union, one should fight for it, and understand what impact emotionally NOT fighting entails. Call me a hopeless romantic, but THAT's love. & love isn't something to ever be mediocre, its a plant that needs nurturing its the skin that when broken becomes renewed, it is Alive and it is a treasure to be handled with utmost care.