If you’ve ever had a conversation with me IRL, or read through my previous articles, you’ll know that I live my life in accordance with Legally Blonde. But I have a confession… Legally Blonde is not the only movie from which I draw inspiration for my life. Although it guides my professional pursuits and gives me a role model whom I can emulate to a scary degree, I draw most of my inspiration for living from mid-‘90’s to early-2000’s romantic comedies (Sleepless in Seattle, You’ve Got Mail, How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days, Notting Hill).
My extensive experience with these movies has led me to spend a ridiculous amount of time sitting in Starbucks, gazing out of the window expecting my future husband to waltz in, with perfect features and an entrancing grin. He’ll come up to me, say something incredibly charming, to which I’ll respond with endearing wit. The two of us will walk off hand-in-hand, fly to Paris, have a whirlwind romance and then have our happy ending.
But my desire to live within a romantic comedy extends far beyond the realm of spontaneous European vacations and meeting my Ryan Gosling (because, in all honesty when I’m sitting in Starbucks and get approached by a random guy, the last thing I intend to do is engage in banter and fly off to Paris with him. LET ME DRINK MY VANILLA LATTE IN PEACE!!). Whenever I watch these movies, rather, I am envious of the cool, creative careers of the protagonists, the way the streets of [insert whatever big city in which the movie takes place] are perfectly lined with artisanal boutiques and cafes, and how snow seems to cascade the streets and not pose a serious sliding risk to everyone rushing around in their non-winter boots.
My obsession with rom-coms has manifested itself in numerous ways within my own life. Firstly, when looking for an apartment I refused to live anywhere but the neighbourhood in Ottawa that looks like a movie set – Christmas lights drape over every tree, there are 5 cafes within a two block radius, every wall is covered with an intricately painted mural, there are stores named after obscure animals (Octopus Books, Black Squirrel) and the pavement sidewalks have been replaced with (slightly impractical) red bricks.
Secondly, I spend every day of my life doing activities that normal, rational people would find impractical and ridiculous. For example, whenever I’m having a bad day, sitting in a coffee store for a ridiculously long amount of time brings me extreme comfort and I’ll sometimes just walk the streets of downtown aimlessly because it brings me some sense of productivity and inspiration and I write a blog because I think I’m some kind of introspective, funny, Bridgett-Jones type gal.
But thirdly, and most detrimental to my well-being, I have planned my entire future and made assumptions about how life works based entirely on what I’ve learned from rom-coms. To me, my ten-year-plan features lots of emotional instability, a weird amount of take-out, living in an apartment decorated with an unnecessary amount of patchwork linens, working in some non-descript job where I have a group of supplementary characters existing solely to progress my storyline, and making enough money at said job to shop whenever I want, afford my non-rent controlled downtown apartment, travel to countries to ‘find myself’ and afford the luxury of spending ridiculous amounts of time at Starbucks and other various coffee spots.
The problem in this, as I’m discovering, is that life isn’t exactly like the movies. Now before you roll your eyes at me and disregard my connection to reality, let me make clear that I obviously know that most of the movies I frequently watch are engineered by Hollywood masterminds who hire specific “snow-laying designers” and “romantic window-foggers” but that doesn’t change my idealization and romanticization of life.
No matter how hard I try to convince myself that what I’m watching isn’t real or attainable I can’t shake my intense desire to live like I’m Meg Ryan in “You’ve Got Mail” or like Kate Hudson in “How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days”. My extreme need to live this picture-perfect life has led me to find difficulty in ‘living in the now’. I’m always trying to think what I can do next to be more like those whom I idolize so intensely.
I need to learn how to slow down and enjoy the now. I need to enjoy the imperfection of life and discover the nuances of a non-engineered existence. I need to slip in the snow, spend less time in Starbucks, wistfully staring into space and I need to live through some harsh realities of real life.
This isn’t to say that I’m giving up on all my rom-com inspired dreams. I’m still going to be a big boss-lady working at my non-descript creative/high powered job, I’m still going to wear clothes that bring out my inner Rachel Green, and I’m still going to enjoy the beauty of lights in December and foggy cafe windows. I’m just going to slow down and realize that life isn’t perfect and that I don’t need to have every decision in my life propel me towards my idealization of a fantasy world.
Then again in the process of writing this, I had an elderly man sit next to me for an hour and tell me about the love he had for his late wife, I’m sitting across from my best-friend/roommate with whom I share an adorably picturesque two-bedroom apartment, and the barista at Starbucks gave me a free drink signed with his love. So I guess my life is going pretty great right now and I’m making my ’90s idols proud.