When I was 15, my sister and I drove to the nearest town that hosted a screening of “The Devil Wears Prada” to witness the glory of Meryl Streep and laugh about our own lack of fashion sense.
What I didn’t know: This movie would be one of the most formative experiences of my life.
There we are – in the very first row because we were late — following the tale of Andy Sachs, aspiring journalist and actual girlfriend to an aspiring cook
Andy, played by Anne Hathaway, joins the nation’s biggest fashion magazine, “Runway”, run by an international icon: Mirandy Priestly.
While the movie contains several moments that made me reflect deeply on my life choices —
“… it’s sort of comical how you think that you’ve made a choice that exempts you from the fashion industry when, in fact, you’re wearing the sweater that was selected for you by the people in this room… from a pile of ‘stuff’.”
– Miranda Priestly, The Devil Wears Prada
… has given me a new understanding and yes, respect, for the fashion industry, it was the romantic plot that changed my life.
1. The return to Le Boyfriend
For anyone unfamiliar with Devil Wears Prada, or for whom it’s a bit of a distant memory, let me recap:
Aspiring journalist Andy lands a job as Miranda Priestly’s assistant, works her butt off to meet Miranda’s exacting demands, realizes she needs to go all in and adapts to the world of fashion.
She’s rewarded with new friends, a lot of experience and getting closer to her goal. After all, if she survives a year at “Runway”, she argues, she can switch to a real newspaper.
Too bad her boyfriend can’t handle her success.
Nate is an aspiring cook and even 15-year-old me realized he’s intimidated by his partner’s success.
Andy changed in pursuit of her career and rather than support her on her journey towards her dream, Nate complains, undermines her confidence and really makes her feel shitty.
Of course she dumps him.
What I didn’t see coming back then, when I had no training in screenwriting or storytelling, was that in the end, Andy would return.
She witnesses the cutthroat nature of the industry she’s in, realizes she’s not willing to go that far, and quits.
The quitting, I understand, even though I personally would have stuck it out.
The return to Nate, however? Come on!
15-year-old me spent the entire car ride complaining to my sister about Andy’s horrible life choice.
How stupid could she be, giving him another chance? How can she trust him to support her while her journalism career takes off?
For me, it seemed she was compromising her own integrity to stay with a guy who hadn’t shown up for her. Who was going to drag her down.
On that car ride, gazing out of the window across the dark rural Bavarian landscape, I vowed to myself to never, ever compromise my ambitions for a partner.
I guess you know where this is going, eh?
Fast-forward 17 years. I’ve lived through great times at school, seen my ambitions shattered by other people, lost my 20s to depression and an eating disorder, came into my nonbinary identity, then fell in love once I was finally stable enough to entertain the notion of someone wanting me as their partner.
It was my first-ever relationship I had and taught me valuable lessons about who I am in connection with and what I need from a partner.
That person wasn’t it.
Too bad we’ve already moved in together, and then moved flats again because our dream place had become free.
But hey, I vowed to never let a partner drag me down or stay in a relationship that made me miserably (unlike my parents)…
So I broke it off.
Curiously enough, I found myself thinking of that car ride after seeing “The Devil Wears Prada” quite often as I geared up to the breakup talk.
The story doesn’t end there, however. Guess I failed to mention how my life had turned into a soap opera in 2021 and 2022.
Because, during the time of me pondering the breakup and actually going through with it, a connection I had with someone else continued to deepen.
I’m poly, so I am not surprised by being in love with multiple people.
What has surprised me is the depth of my feeling in this need relationship.
2. A monumental shift
See, this new person lives on the other side of the country.
(It’s Germany, so you’re still there in 4 hours, but still.)
We see each other regularly since he also has business in Bavaria, where my family lives, but most of the time I’m in Berlin.
We’ve been doing the long-distance thing and I’m perfectly content, but I know that he isn’t.
He’s the type of person who wants to come home to someone, who needs physical contact, who needs to fall asleep next to their partner.
His relationship of five years ended because they were still long-distance. I knew that would be us, eventually.
Rather than say, “fine, we’re doomed”, however… I hesitated.
See, he’s also the type to make me an extra mug of milk foam because I mentioned I love the taste. The type to actually listen to me when I say I dislike cut flowers, the type to bring my niece a gift off a random comment I made.
He’s the type I can actually cry in front of. The person to whom I can confess feeling shitty about my body and who will cheer me up by fooling around with our plushies.
(You’re never to old for plushies.)
Long story short, I’m in love more deeply than I never thought possible.
I was due to visit him at the start of January 2023, just after the New Year. He texted me on New Year’s Day.
Only visit me if you’re 100% sure we’re doing the right thing. Only come by if you see a genuine future for us.
I hesitated a split second.
I knew what he meant.
Long distance is a huge issue for him. If I’m truly committed, then sooner or later we will have to talk about moving in together.
He’s got a whole life in his town. I have a few (dear) friends in Berlin, a flourishing career and an expensive appartment.
15-year-old me is shouting at me to stop this nonsense and break it off.
31-year-old me… considers.
Where I had thought my convictions are black and white, this guy has shown me that they aren’t.
Where I had condemned Andy Sachs a dumb fool for love, I now see that there can be people for whom we’re willing to even break the strongest of our convictions.
Will I give up my life in Berlin to be with him?
Nothing’s decided yet.
But just the fact that I’m considering, that I’m willing to entertain the fact of ignoring the thousands of dollars of sunk cost invested in the apartment, the friends I’ll miss, the effort and the chaos…
That fact alone has me marvel at the power of love.
Maybe it’s time I forgive Andy for her stupid decision.
Maybe she just followed her heart.
And maybe I will, too.
This post was previously published on medium.com.
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Photo credit:Twentieth Century Fox