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Wendy Litner Headshot

How Important Is Romance?

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"Lost in Translation" was on the other night, and it always draws me in, no matter what I am doing. I hold my breath when Bill Murray goes back to Scarlett and holds her so tenderly, cupping her head to his chest as he brushes her hair aside and whispers profoundly in her ear. It leaves me teary and breathless every time I see it. The life-changing connection with an expiration date, the way his words seem to comfort her loss ... it all moves me.

My eyes wet, my voice cracking, I turn to my husband. I take a breath and I tell him -- in all earnestness -- that my whole life I have dreamed of a man rushing to me, holding me in his arms and whispering to me whatever it is Bill whispers to her. In the silence that ensues, I tuck my curls behind my ear to assist his access for when he jumps across the couch and envelops me in the grand gesture of love that is surely to come.

I wait.

"I'm Googling what he says," announces my husband.

"But I don't want you to Google what he says! The whole point is that you're not supposed to know what he says! It's the mysterious intimacy of it that makes it so perfect."

"Hold on. Apparently, someone slowed down the scene frame by frame and digitally enhanced the volume in a sound studio."

I grab the bowl of popcorn, resigned to the fact that no one is coming to swoop me away in a tidal wave of romance. No one is going to lean in close to me and whisper some magical words that are going to put my fretting heart at peace. Not today. Probably not ever. The dog paws at my hand, and I pretend it's fueled by love and not the smell of popcorn. After I pass him a few kernels, he yawns and walks across me to put a sleepy head in my husband's lap. I knew we should have gotten a girl.

My frustration is reminiscint of the time my husband and I saw "Titanic" together. In the last scene when Rose realizes Jack is dead, she's forced to finally let go of his hand and let him sink without her. With the collective emotion swirling in the theatre, I was touched when my husband took my hand. Squeezing it, he asked:

"Would the body sink right away because of the oxygen escaping? Or does that make it float?"

I didn't know. And I still don't exactly know the molecular process by which air is released or gasses reabsorbed to make a dead body sink or swim in the water. I don't really know how Wesley was able to build up an immunity to iocane powder in "The Princess Bride" to save his precious Buttercup. I don't know how Forest was able to run out of his leg braces in front of Jenny. And I certainly don't know how Mark Darcy kissed Bridget so passionately after she chased him in the snow in ill-fitting leopard-print underwear.

I don't know how any of these things happened, but I don't think it much matters. I don't need my husband to rescue me from a sinking ship. I don't need him to ingest poison for me or slay dragons or run across the country or kiss me deeply in public. I just want him to be so moved by his love for me, at any given time, that his feelings transcend space, physics, biology and reason. So what doesn't he get? Why can't he just say something so loving, so deeply felt that it chases away every anxious thought I have ever had, leaving me with nothing but peace and contentment? Why? Why?

I look at him, concentrating so intently on the computer screen propped on top of the dog in his lap.

"He says, 'I have to be leaving ... but I won't let that come between us, okay?'"

"What?" I ask.

"That's what he says," he repeats, slower, "'I have to be leaving ... but I won't let that come between us, okay?'"

"Okay," I say.

I contemplate Murray's line and reflect that connections between people, at their core, are really quite simple. It's the timing, the unspoken expectations and our connections with others, that truly complicate it. I'm complicating it. Instead of basking in the comfortable silence between my husband and I in this day-to-day life, I am clouding it with fantastical notions of romance. I enjoy watching movies with my husband, our dog curled up between us, our hands touching as we reach for the popcorn. And it was sweet of him to look up the line.

I still think, though, that it would have sounded so much better whispered in my ear.