“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.
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