While You Were Schlepping
A love story
Recently, I revisited 1995 by way of Sandra Bullock's adorable oversized cable knit sweaters, chunky boots, and stringy bangs.
Ask somebody to name their favourite romantic comedy, and only then will you truly understand them. Mine, as a teen, was While You Were Sleeping. Rife with implausibilities, it's a 1968 love story bundled up in mid-90's Chicago outerwear. And it’s notoriously good at sucking you right into its sweetness.
This isn't a movie review, though. This is amateur psychoanalysis tinged with proof of psychic premonition. Or to put it just as pretentiously: this is a tale of the manifestation of womanly desire.
You see, when I was thirteen, I was certain I'd become a woman like Lucy: no family, androgynous good looks, worryingly into her cat, and working a minimum wage job behind a counter. Her only friends, her coworkers and her landlord. Clever and loveable. Disconcertingly blunt. Alone on Christmas.
When I was fourteen, I was certain that I would become infatuated with men who didn't know I existed. When I was fifteen, I still had no hope of finding a boyfriend, and the soft PG-rated allure of this faintly holiday themed rom-com was my womanly lifeline. At sixteen, I'd seen many more such comedies, starring even likelier heroines, and yet, this flick had my heart. It understood me.
By seventeen, I had started dating, and at eighteen, I was positively jaded by my limited romantic experiences. These guys had nothing on Bill Pullman. There was no chivalry, no ease of rapport, no romantic ice capades on the walk back to my apartment (or in my case, to my family’s housing co-op).
The effortlessly giggly, unselfconscious chemistry between Lucy and Jack felt so familiar. I could see it in my future. I could taste it. But it was sorely lacking at present. The first year business major who dumped me because I was poor was not Bill Pullman. The technical writer (who was just that much older than me to qualify as creepy) sure as hell was no Bill Pullman.
So what, you’re thinking? Nobody’s life is a fairy tale.
What’s interesting is that I did end up meeting my Bill Pullman. Like Sandra Bullock’s Lucy, I found myself joining a family who embraced me immediately. A family who needed me to interject myself into their lives. A wacky gang of loudmouths who showed me one good time after another.
This family, though, was a collection of misfit musicians, and instead of a carpenter, my love interest was a guitar player. Instead of a grandma with a heart condition, the person I didn’t want to disappoint was the patient friend who dutifully schlepped me around to one punk rock show after another.
Like Lucy, I couldn’t believe my fortune. I thought I was cursed to end up in love with a beautiful asshole who didn’t want me. In the process of realizing this, I met my true love. My Jack. My Bill Pullman.
It was actual love at literal first sight.
He truly wanted me. He liked my weird outfits, my crazy stories, and my history as a pathological liar. We walked around the city in the cold all night long, talking until our throats hurt. We laughed like kids on a playground. We held hands. We leaned on each other. We even slipped on unlikely patches of ice a few times, surrounded by Christmas lights, and landed in each other’s arms.
We moved in together within weeks. His biological family also welcomed me into their hearts, inviting me to open Christmas presents with them as I looked on in wonder - just like in the movie. I kid you not.
We even got married. This handsome, sandy-headed man wanted us to be together for the rest of our lives, giving each other the world.
My girlhood fantasy has been fully realized.
Yours might be, too. Tomorrow, next week, or in another lifetime.
Until then, we'll always have our rom-coms.