I've always been a bit of a hopeless romantic. I'm the one who desperately wants to know if they get married and have babies after the film has finished. I love flowers and cute messages left on post-it notes around the house - and I'm a huge sucker for a celebrity wedding (even though they mostly always fail). I've always been that way, ever since I was tiny - and I always held out hope that someday my Prince would come - white horse not necessary. (They scare me)
At the grand old age of 31, many frogs and a few battle scars later - I can proudly say that my Prince has come, and he was definitely worth the wait. What has changed though as a result of my sometimes turbulent journey looking for love, is my perception of romance. Throughout my teens and twenties I really believed romance had to be like the movies , you know - all grand gestures and swooning. Boyfriends in the past have been more than capable of the grand gestures - flowers sent to work, big flashy presents on birthdays that looked good in front of the parents, amazing expensive restaurants. What some of them were less capable of however was commitment, compromise and proper grow-old-together love. When I hit 30 it got to the stage where the gestures just weren't going to be enough. I wanted more. I wanted what my mum and dad have.
Then along came Jay. From the word go he warned me that he 'wasn't very good at the romance stuff' (his words not mine). Although he did buy me THE Galaxy Easter egg just two weeks into dating me. You know - the huge one with not one, not two, but FOUR bars of chocolate. According to one of my best friends at the time - that was a VERY good effort. Although there were no flowers, and our dates tended to be more Rovers Return than Breakfast at Tiffanys - it soon became clear that this guy was a keeper. This was a different kind of romance.
At the start we lived a loooong way from each other - which made me assume, from past experiences, that it just wouldn't last. But my flower-less Prince proved me wrong. From week one Jay was doing 190 mile round trips just to come and see me for the night. Sometimes he would turn up on my doorstep as a surprise. At the time we were both doing breakfast radio shows and he'd often leave my flat at 3.20am to do the long drive to work. At the time it was a concept I just wasn't familiar with in my life. I think part of me tried to reject it because I really wasn't used to a partner being so generous with their time.
After 3 months (still no flowers) we took a very early plunge and moved in together. It felt scary but right. A year down the line we're in another house and haven't looked back since. It's during this time I've really learned the true meaning of romance - and I've even had a couple of bunches of yellow roses along the way (my fave). But forget roses, chocolates and champagne - because here is my list of RealGirl Romance - as learnt over the past 15 months from my man:
1) Packed Lunches - Jay has this thing about making sure I'm well fed. It's the fathering instinct in him. So every day he packs me off to my very early radio show with a bag full of healthy, yummy, awkwardly vegetarian AND gluten free food.
2) Petrol - A bit stereotypical I know but he loves to look after my car. I don't ever have to worry about setting off on my long daily journeys because my diesel is always topped up - and if a warning light comes up on the dash he's all over it with his Haynes!
3) Edited Pictures - I may not get flowers or diamonds on a regular basis - but I do get edited photos send to my phone. Pictures of actual flowers he's seen on his travels and thought I'd like. Pictures of duck families and fairytale castles. I've even had pictures of cute rabbits in tea cosies he's downloaded and knew I'd love. And the quality is always amazing - Snapseed all the way, he's an Instagram hater.
4) Lumbar Support - We all know the importance of good back health - and none more than my Jay. After moaning about lower back pain from so much driving, I got home one day to a brand new car back support. It's not tickets to the ballet, but let's face it - far more useful. Not to mention thoughtful.
5) Wellies - My most recent gift from Jay is a cute pair of Havaianas wellies (my computer tried to trick me with a very cheeky autocorrect there). You may have seen from other blogs or my twitter that Jay's dog Isla recently came to live with us which means my life has been transformed with daily dog walks in the muddy park next door. Knowing that I was fussing about getting my beloved Converse ruined - off he popped to the shops and got me the wellies, so I'd be happier and more comfortable. And I am.
So there you have it - I never thought a back rest and a pair of rubber boots would make it into my romance list but they have and I wouldn't change it for the world. Who needs 'Gone With The Wind' - when you can have 'Gone To Get Petrol' eh?
Xx (just wanted a couple of kisses - to keep the romance alive)