Summer Love Lessons

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"You guys have been dating five months? And you're going to live out of a car together for how long?" That was the reaction we usually got when we told people about our summer plans.

Staring out of opposite windows in Minnesota, it was starting to seem like a valid concern. My boyfriend Ethan and I were just two weeks into our romantic journey, but the honeymoon was definitely over.

We'd come up with the idea just a few months after we'd met: What if we took all summer to drive cross-country and collect America's first love stories? The idea was simple and lovesick, like our new, seemingly flawless relationship.

There was the woman in Seattle who'd been in love with two men at once, one of whom was a heroin addict. Then, there was the seemingly perky lady from Loveland who after half an hour revealed she'd often felt alone in her marriage.

Many times, people thanked us. They were grateful to unload these stories onto young people, people who still believed in love.


We felt honored and tried to ignore our relationship's newfound disconnect. I focused on communicating with our subjects instead of Ethan.

Things finally came to a head when we admitted we weren't having fun. We cried, yelled, hugged, pushed away, then cried and talked some more. In other words, we had a good old-fashioned fight. And damn, did it feel good. We'd finally stopped trying to be the ideal young couple and started being ourselves: imperfect, and a little melodramatic.

The day after our fight, we found ourselves in Minneapolis, interviewing a man who gives boat rides on Lake Calhoun.

"So how does it feel to have met Prince Charming?" he asked, completely serious. Ethan laughed, embarrassed, realizing the irony. I told the group of strangers the truth: Ethan isn't my Prince Charming. He's my Real Person. A person revealing himself to be flawed and sometimes frustrating, just like me.

In other words, he's the person I'm just beginning to really love.

With A Perspective, I'm Rachel Krantz.