I would have never made it far in a strict academic setting because I'm a big old sap. Yes, it's true. I'd rather find some kind of satisfying, happy ending--the two pieces put back together at the end of the tale--than something artfully constucted, delicate as a butterfly's wing, a haiku of a conclusion.
That doesn't mean the story has to be happy. No, give me some struggle. Just make sure it's worth it at the end.
My favorite love stories contain a lot of pain and suffering and longing and angst. The character grapple with all it means to be human on this planet, but they also reach and manage to grasp that often ineffable connection with another human being. They confront and fight and try to understand. In many ways they fail. In some ways, they never get what it is that they wanted. But they've seen it.
The Time Traveler's Wife remains one of the best love stories I've ever read. The thing that keeps the story from vering into cliche is that one of the main characters is out of chronological order. We don't have boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back. It's more like boy meets girl but meets her after he's already met her. He loses her over and over again, and then really loses her, only to find her again at the end of her life. Or maybe it's girl meets boy, doesn't know who in the hell he is until she meets him again and recognizes him. Then she loses him, finds him, loses him, finds him. She can't save him, but he saves her. And then he finds her at the end.
How can that plot get old?
The other story that got to me in the same way is The Mists of Avalon. Not one person in this story is with the one he or she loves. And they can't even do what the song exhorts, love the one they're with.
Arthur loves Morgaine who loves Lancelot who loves Guinevere who loves Lancelot who loves Arthur. That story hasn't gotten old, either.
Along the way, these characters face their issues in the ways they can, becoming so very human, ridden with mistakes and longing, despair and joy.
Love is pretty ugly sometimes, at least the way it plays out. But in both the above stories, there are moments where it's clear how strong and hard we feel, how deep the well is, how cold and clear.
Causes Jessica Inclán Supports
Women for Women International Goodwill Industries Lindsey Wildlife Museum Freecycle.org