I am not a romantic.
Okay, that’s not entirely true. Maybe the better way to say it is this: I am a reformed romantic. My old journals prove that a large chunk of my teen years was spent daydreaming about love. In them I am starry-eyed and hopeful, pushing the gates of my heart wide open just to let even the tiniest sliver of love in. The pages don’t lie: I was obsessed with feelings. I wrote about them so consciously and freely that my current 29-year-old self can’t help but feel semi-embarrassed. Later on, I fell in love with a boy and, in my very last act as a romantic, wrote an entire book about him.
And that’s where it ended.
The truth is that there was no monumental shift. I didn’t suddenly become jaded or cynical. If you ask me today I will tell you that I still completely believe in the all-powerful force of love. Maybe what I retired from are the illusions I had built around it.
Two months ago my friends and I celebrated a beautiful wedding in Singapore. Under the glow of soft lights, our amiga, Mikka, exchanged vows with Andre, whom she had steadily been in love with for three years.
It might be a good time to say that romantic comedies no longer get me. Songs with syrupy lyrics about kissing under the stars don’t get me. Emotionally charged fantasies don’t get me. But… Mikka and Andre’s wedding got me.
Coldplay’s “Charlie Brown” started playing as soon as the bride began her march down the aisle and I got this feeling. It simmered then exploded. I don’t know if there is a word that captures a joy so impossibly deep that one is rendered a big crying mess — but if it existed, I would use it.
As they stood before each other, trading rings, I realized that what I was witnessing was sacred. It was my friend finding a home in the heart of a really kind man. It wasn’t overly dramatic, pretentious, or contrived. It was true love — good love, as Mikka described in her vows — and it looked so much better than the trappings of mainstream romance. More importantly, it compelled me to go ahead and feel something.
Everything about the wedding reminded me of all the things that love will do. Love will put a rock on your finger as a promise of forever. It’ll get a group of people to skip work and fly out to your wedding. It’ll push a reformed romantic to the brink of honest emotion. Perhaps, at the end of it all, love is the ultimate verb.
My favorite part of Mikka’s wedding happened towards the end of the night, after the dinner program had concluded. “Dancing In The Moonlight” played right after the couple’s first dance and Mikka looked at me, called me over, and we danced with our friends for the next three hours. We spun and jumped; moved our hips around so comically that we ended up dancing to the rhythm of each others’ laughter. We were wild with unbridled joy and as we twirled around Andre, heels off, dresses sashaying against each other, I realized what it meant to be really, truly free.
A day after the wedding, upon settling back in Manila, I got the offer to write for MB Life about these things that I feel as a woman in her twenties.
When I think of what I want this space to be about I keep going back to the wedding: the dancing, the laughing, the hugging, that moment when we were all so down to feel. Maybe, in the end, that’s what I want to create. I want to write wholeheartedly again, to fill the page in a way that mirrors one of the best evenings of my life. I want to kick off my shoes and spin my truth onto the page, unapologetic and brave.
The truth is that I feel scared. The world around us seems so averse to real emotion, sometimes regarding it as cheap sentimentality. But here’s what I’m thinking: Let today be our day. Let this be the one time in the week when we own up to the honest spaces in our hearts. Let’s celebrate tenderness and vulnerability, the things that we think are better kept hidden. Half of what makes the dance so good is the complete lack of pretense. The other half, of course, is not doing it alone.
Hey you. C’mon, let’s boogie.
Featured image by Madel Crudo
When she isn’t writing, Isa Garcia is a teacher in a private college in BGC. She is also the author of Found: Letters on Love, Life, & God, published by OMF Literature. You can read more of Isa’s thoughts and her writing at her blog, Isa Writes.