There is nothing like a Rom-Com to bring clarity to your life. Just today I had the pleasure of watching Baggage Claim starring Paula Patton and host of handsome male co-stars. Much like Patton’s character Montana Moore, I proudly proclaim the title: romantic. Despite the fact that I have yet to light upon the man who takes my breathe away while also encouraging me to be the best version of me that I can be, I haven’t given up complete hope that he exists and will someday find his way to my heart. I may be delusional to think that mutual love and commitment can coexist in a “happily ever after” scenario, but I’m okay with that. I’m okay with it because I refuse to settle for just any man. I want the man who will fight for me—not literally, but figuratively speaking—fight for my heart, my attention, my affection. I want the man whose face lights up when he sees me, the man who smiles at the thought of something funny I said and/or did. I want the man who will love me when I look and feel my worst. I want the man who isn’t afraid of my strength, the man who will see it as an asset and not a deficit. I am holding out for the man who is a gentleman—holding upon doors and pulling out my chair. I am willing to wait for the man who recognizes that I am perfectly imperfect and that is perfectly fine with him. If such a man exists in human form, I will wait—hope-filled, not hopeless–for him to materialize. And the following are quotes from the movie that moved me.
“It’s the 21st century; you don’t need a man to define you.”
–Gail (played by Jill Scott)
Montana’s co-star and on-screen gal-pal Gail, played by Jill Scott, expressed these words in a scene where the two ladies reflect over the thirty-day plan to find Montana a husband (or at least a date to her sister’s wedding). While Gail’s words are true, many a good woman, myself included, have yet to completely escape the scrutiny of being unmarried and single well into her thirties. It is as if the unmarried after thirty have been stamped, or worse yet, branded “defective” in the eyes of society. I will be the first to admit that I have been trying everything humanly possible—just shy of crazy–to keep from remaining single. But in the last week or so something inside me shifted. I’m not sure what, why or how it happened, but I started looking at my current circumstance: single, unmarried, and childless from an entirely different set of eyes. I’ve reached a peace-filled place emotionally and mentally. Before, I seemed to be on a mission to rid myself of the label: single, unmarried woman. Now however, I have come to see it as a new start. Think about it. How many people can say that they’ve had countless opportunities to start over—again and again? Starting over used to carry with it a heavy negative stigma, but lately I have come to appreciate the ability to start back at one once more. This fresh start has given me a chance to reinvent myself, to appreciate me just as I am. No, I refuse to be defined by having, or in my case, not having a man. I am my own person. I am a quirky, fun-loving, animated, passionate, devoted woman. Yes, I would love to find a mate with which to share my life and love. But if it never happens I am at peace with being alone—all one—that is, complete and lacking nothing.
“The magic isn’t in getting married; it’s in staying married.”
–William Wright (played by Derek Luke)
Derek Luke who plays William Wright, Montana’s on-screen long-term best friend, and eventual fiancé, shared these words of wisdom with Montana (Patton) on the way to the airport in her first of many failed attempts at reigniting fires with previous love interests. What I love most about Wright’s words is the staying power that he connotes with the institution of marriage. Being the romantic individual that I am, I strongly believe in lasting love. If there is one thing that my failed attempts at love have taught me, it is that I am gritty—I don’t give up easily. I have fought tooth and nail for the men I have loved. I have never walked away easily. It seems that many people get married because of timing: they think it’s the right time or they think their time is running out. I’ve contemplated both scenarios over the last decade. In my mid-to-late twenties I thought it was time to get married. After all, nearly everyone around me was doing it—getting married that is. And as my early-to-mid thirties came and went, I thought time was running out. And when one relationship after another failed to develop into marriage I began to feel a sense of desperation take over me. But life has a way of bringing clarity to you. I do not take marriage lightly. To me it is sacred and should be cherished. If I should marry, and truly I do hope that I do. It is my hope and prayer that it happens only once and that it lasts a lifetime. I take my commitments very seriously and marriage is about commitment—a life-long commitment.
“You give me hope that there’s still some good men out there.”
–Montana Moore (played by Paula Patton)
There was a time in my life when I thought the available pool of “good men” had dried up. Only recently have I changed my thinking. While I have known a few good men, I do hope that there are at least a few more out there. No, I’m not greedy. I just want one for myself and a few for some really great women whom I happen to be friends with. I know I’m not the last of the thirty-something single, unmarried, and childless clan. There are many of us out there. Many of us, despite being intelligent, independent, and attractive, have yet to happen upon the right man, for us that is. We’ve kissed many a frog over the years, but we haven’t lost hope. Like Montana’s character, we still believe that our day will come. We hope against our previous and current circumstances that there is at least one man willing to appreciate us just as we are. We may not have a thirty-day turn around like the character Montana Moore, but that hasn’t kept us from hoping he will eventually arrive on his noble steed.
“Marriage doesn’t make you a lady anymore than standing in a garage makes you a car.”
Even though this is an odd analogy to make, you cannot deny the truth of Montana’s words. We—the lot of unmarried women—are no less a lady than the rest of the female population because we happen not to have a husband, a fiancé, a committed boyfriend, or even a prospect or two. Does it take being married to make one a lady? Does motherhood require giving birth? I say no to both. I may not be married, and I may not have birthed any children, but each day that I wake I present myself as a lady and I oftentimes find myself taking on the role of mother at work.
“I did meet somebody that I’ve really been needing to meet, me.”
Starting over allows us the privilege of getting to know ourselves again. When there isn’t anyone else vying for our time, attention, and affection we have the opportunity to love ourselves without condition. The time alone that we give ourselves is rejuvenating. When we finally learn to appreciate us, we make way for a refreshing wave of freedom. When we meet ourselves just as we are, we can appreciate our strengths and limitations. Etymologically speaking, the word alone is Old English for “al one” or all one—wholly. Being alone–all one–whole–frees us from buying into the lie that we are less than. The truth remains that we are complete, whole and lacking nothing.
“I want a lifetime.”
Call it greedy; call it whatever you like. I want a lifetime and I won’t settle for anything less. I believe that a love can last a lifetime if both individuals maintain the same level of commitment. All too often however, it seems that one or both individuals opts out—physically and/or emotionally when the going gets tough. I am not a quitter. I am a fighter and a lover. The hope-filled romantic in me won’t settle for anything less than a lifetime. Truth be told, it may take a lifetime to get what I earnestly desire, and if that’s the case, then I am okay with that. The bottom line is that we should never settle for less than what our hearts truly desire. And when we choose not to settle, one day we may have the pleasure of hearing our significant other say . . .
“You could stay awake the rest of your life and you’d still be beautiful to me.”
—Damon Diesel played by Trey Songz
How’s that for romantic?
If you haven’t seen Baggage Claim, you should. And then we can banter about the quotes that moved you.