There’s this elusive thing that’s always made mention of, that “feeling” that comes with being content. Maybe even with being in love. And I’m not referring to infatuation, the first kiss, or even the feelings you might have after a proposal or major event like being married or the birth of a child. I’m talking about “that tender-sweet sense of belonging.”
It’s that feeling that you’re where you need to be, when you need to be there, doing what you should be doing, with the person you should be doing it with.
OK. Those are a lot of variables, and many of us will never meet all the conditions. But just one of them can be the right one. Like being in the right job. Or going to dinner with the right friend. Or being in a partnership with the best possible person for you.
I think that’s why I enjoy romance novels so much. Because you get a brief taste of “that tender-sweet sense of belonging.” The writer takes you on a journey of self-discovery, through the warmth of a passionate affair, and on to the happy-ever-after.
According to Wikipedia, a romance novel “must have an emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending.”
Optimism. Maybe that’s the draw. Helen Keller has been quoted as having said “Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.” Hope and confidence, isn’t that what’s really within the pages of a romance novel?
I happen to be a big fan of the kick-ass heroine. And all of my books feature one. There’s not a woman waiting for a man to save her. She’s fully capable of saving herself, but would love to bring him along on her journey. And let him kick a little tail, along the way, too, of course. She might even take him in hand once or twice as events meander along. Maybe “take him to task” is a better way to say that. Although the first one sounds like more fun.
There goes that “tender-sweet sense of belonging” rearing its beautiful head. For where there is romance, there is an opportunity for optimism and hope.
If I was a good liar, I would wax poetic about everlasting love, how long I’ve been blissfully married, and other romantic notions. But I won’t, because life’s not always blissful. When you can’t close your bedroom door because you have children knocking, or you can’t find a sitter for date night, or you couldn’t find time to take a shower that day, you might not be able to draw up enough energy to nurture a love affair. Or even draw up a good martini so you can pretend there’s a love affair going on. Yet there’s always hope. And an escape into a good book, where the two main characters are always going to be a hero and a heroine, because they’re made in your dreams, in your fantasies, in your idle time, and most importantly, in your image.
When discussing optimism, one would do well to remember what McLandburgh Wilson had to say:
Twixt the optimist and the pessimist,
The difference is droll:
The optimist sees the doughnut,
But the pessimist sees the hole.
In the grand scheme of things, I’ll take the doughnut. I might even make the doughnut and spread optimism through the pages of a book. Wait. That's not my goal. I write because it’s fun. And hope my readers see that in my pages. Can you see that “tender-sweet sense of belonging” in your life, or something you’ve read?
I can, when my husband brings home Diet Dr. Pepper without me having to ask.