My teenaged years were a romantic mess. Unrequited was the theme here. If I liked a boy, he didn’t like me. If he liked me, I didn’t like him. It seemed the math never added up. (Perhaps because I was a writer?) And then there were a few choice romantic triangles that really brought the drama.
Maybe my expectations were too high. After all, I grew up dreaming of charming, disarming and utterly swoon-worthy friends-turned-more, like Gilbert Blythe in Anne of Green Gables or the beloved Laurie in Little Women. They were hardly Prince Charming, but the appeal was breathtaking because of the small moments they’d shared with the heroines, sharing their stories and their lives. You know, these were the types of love stories — tortured and unfinished as they might have ended up — that had real emotional depth to them, because the parties involved really knew each other. Where the anticipation finally boiled over with that first kiss. Where, perhaps, things didn’t end up working out in the end, but the journey was cathartic nonetheless.
A lot to expect from a middle school or high school romance. Especially when much of the intrigue then came from the he-said-she-said scandal of it all, the thrill of never quite knowing what was real. And then the sad realization that, in the end, it’s just high school, and none of it was real.
When I first met my husband, refreshingly, we were friends first. Sure, we were separated by 3,000 miles, but we grew close through words, endless emails, phone calls, even late night IM chats when I was at work at 3 a.m., waiting for my final edits. So when we finally met, there were those sky high expectations, that “will he kiss me” angst (he did, though it took some prompting), the depth that came with all that time invested already. And for me, real life romance worked out better than any I’ve ever found in a teen novel. And as modern-day as our story is, it’s still got that old-fashioned element, the one that’s so hard to find these days. So that’s the kind of romance that I’d like to write. One that stays with you because of the small moments.