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This week while enjoying my mostly self-imposed hibernation, I caught Jerry Maguire on cable and I actually sat through most of it - which - despite the fact that I own it on video, I haven't done in a long time. I have a long and somewhat twisted relationship with the film which started in December of '96. For little or no reason, my boyfriend James had forbidden me to see the film. [sidebar: yes, he was slightly off his rocker. But I'm pretty sure his demand stemmed from an argument we were having over The People VS. Larry Flynt which, in turn, had something to do with my disgust with Hustler's Thanksgiving Cover which featured a girl on platter of money folded up like a turkey with an apple in her mouth and those paper cuff decorations on her ankles... i know, such a classy operation that Hustler] I was obviously appalled that he thought he had the right to "forbid" me to do anything, and so when I went home for break, I went to see it. And perhaps upping the ante a bit, I went to see it with Kris. I remember James being furious and my being indignant, but i think the whole thing was settled by new years without anyone losing a spleen. Just to put a point on how stubborn he is, I don't believe he's seen the movie to this day.

I, on the other hand, have seen it close to 100 times. Not for Tom Cruise's finely honed acting skills, but because the film became a metaphor in the insanely sappy first few months of my relationship with Kris. Oh yes, we were that long distance couple racking up phone bills we couldn't afford just to say "you complete me" one more time in between choruses of "i love you". We took Hollywood's latest hackneyed catchphrase and rode it for all it was worth - wringing every ounce of drippingly honeyed sincerity out of it along our way. Basically, we did what teenagers in love had been doing for centuries... tapped a popular poet's words to express our emotions and then made various staggering attempts to do the job ourselves. It was awkward, it was mushy, it was glorious. I was never more obscenely in love than I was then. It was the first relationship I'd ever been in that was open ended for me - meaning, I didn't necessarily see an ending in our immediate future. I couldn't eat or sleep, I was dizzy and strangely enchanted by poetry and songs that had previously repulsed me. My every conscious second was spent replaying each moment we'd spent together, recalling every word he'd uttered, counting the seconds til we could be together again. If you think I have a flair for the dramatic now - by god you should have seen me at 19. Romeo and Juliet? Bah. Those over-sexed Italian children had nothing on us. We were the real deal - jealousy fueled fights and all. When we were good there was no cieling to our happiness, but and when we were bad we were awful, but I had never been so sure of love before, and I don't think I ever have been since.

Herein lies the question that has been nagging at me all week...

Were those feelings heightened because I was so in love? Or because I was so young?
In other words, do we ever love again the way we did when we were 19?

I know, I'm probably just finding new ways of asking the same old questions, but I can't seem to help it. My crushes this year, in their varying states of intensity, have tended to burn out in a few weeks time and never quite seem to hit that level (where romantic drivel is not only tolerated or possibly expected, but lauded and damn near essential). I will admit to at least one dizzying crush this year, but even that was crippled by my knowledge that very nature of our encounters precluded any illusions of love on either of our parts. This is not to say that I haven't felt grandiose things in these last 8 years... but I think perhaps that my "loves" since then have paled in comparison. Five weddings I've been to this year, five couples that I believe in with all my heart, and one question I've been biting my tongue on in the year leading up to the nuptials... how do you know? In this strange new world of "dating" I'm beginning to see how one could come to appreciate, even adore someone. Feel warm and fuzzy about them, realize that coupling might make sense, that you could be incredibly comfortable, incredibly happy together... but it doesn't make me want to start quoting Wordsworth, Byron or Keats. But is that really coming around again? Or was that kind of all-encompassing love a fantasy to be outgrown like Winnie the Pooh or Neverland? At what point do we stop looking for the fairytale and start appreciating the steady warmth of the people we have come to cherish? And is that settling, or simply the way of the world?
Maybe the reason I'm not married, engaged, or even dating seriously is that I've been refusing to grow up. I've been off chasing rainbows and unicorns... kinds of love and men that simply don't exist. Only while I've been off in search of these mythical creatures, my life has been creeping slowly up behind me. [Sidebar: lets not even get into the "don't rush yourself argument" - this week especially I've felt that immutable global time clock, who's tick-tick-ticking is getting progressively louder and harder to ignore with every passing month] so, am I wasting my time in this fanciful pursuit of the kind of passion I harbored at 19? Has my ability to love like that simply vanished along with my past tolerances for grain alcohol and no-doze induced cram sessions? Or am I simply wringing my hands over something I cannot possibly control? Something they tell me will only sweep me up in its wake if I can manage to quell my passionate quest yet keep hope alive in my heart?

You know - I didn't even TOUCH on how obsessed I became with the soundtrack... I still know every song, can picture exactly where each note figures into the film, can picture the long hours spent on trains, on busses in stations listening to it on repeat on my way to and from my best heart, writing out the lyrics, sobbing my eyes out to it every night when I thought we were over... I want that conviction of emotion again. I need to believe that it's still out there somewhere, waiting for me to happen upon it

"Hey, I don't have all the answers...
in life, to be honest, I've failed as much as I've succeeded, but i love my wife, i love my life, and I wish you my kind of success" - Dicky Fox Jerry Maguire


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Oct. 18th, 2004 04:16 pm (UTC)
"how do you know? In this strange new world of "dating" I'm beginning to see how one could come to appreciate, even adore someone. Feel warm and fuzzy about them, realize that coupling might make sense, that you could be incredibly comfortable, incredibly happy together... but it doesn't make me want to start quoting Wordsworth, Byron or Keats. But is that really coming around again? Or was that kind of all-encompassing love a fantasy to be outgrown like Winnie the Pooh or Neverland?"

I realize that my words will probably not be taken very seriously by anyone who reads them, especially considering that I am, in fact, a 19 year old in love, but I will say them anyway.

True love is not a fantasy, it's not something concocted by Hollywood or greeting cards companies or anything else that exists outside of yourself. It can really happen, and what you've just written proves to me that you know this.

I don't think 18 and 19 and 20-year-olds are naive and misinformed as much as they are untainted. Somehow, you've convinced yourself that the kind of head-over-heels in love feeling you had for Kris could not have really existed because you haven't found it since. The feelings you had at 19 were not any less believable because you were 19 when you had them, rather it is just that now, after eight more years of searching and hence eight more years of experience, you are beginning to give up hope. DON'T. DON'T COMPROMISE. Don't just find someone you think you can be "happy" and "comfortable" with for the rest of your life, because you are going to end up regretting it (and I know a few married couples who more than prove this point).

And even the "don't rush yourself" argument doesn't work here, because what are you rushing towards? There's no goal here. The only goal is for you to do what makes you most happy, and if that is finding love, then trust that you will find it when you least expect it.

But please, PLEASE don't settle for anything less.
Oct. 19th, 2004 08:46 am (UTC)
On the one hand you're totally exempt from my dilemma because as you noted, you are, in fact, 19 and in love :P But I could never discount your words entirely... for one, they are exactly what I most want to believe in and so I will find a way of validating them for myself.

I didn't mean to discount young love, and so if it came across that way, than I didn't spend enough time organizing my words. I suppose the term "fantasy" might imply that I now think of those emotions as childish, or as a figment of my imagination, but nothing could be further from the truth. In my mind's eye there is nothing more real to me... but like you said, I think people are more "untainted" earlier on and therefore more apt to be open to that kind of love.

So my question really is whether, after years of tiny (and yes, not so tiny) heartaches have worn on us, we are still able to achieve that same level, that same purity of emotion. I sometimes get the feeling that everyone else knows that I won't / can't find what I'm searching for, possibly because it doesn't exist at all - that's where I start to feel like I'm chasing some sort of mythical creature... I don't know. I guess I always thought that "growing up" came with more answers :)

But nevertheless, I'm not sure I have it in me to settle, so if that means I have to spend more time alone, than so be it. Besides, it's not like I'm not having a hell of a time with all my Mister Wrongs...
Oct. 23rd, 2004 07:42 pm (UTC)
If you're calling all of them mr. wrongs then they're obviously not right for you. you'll know when you know. not to be all mr. miyagi on you, and stuff...
Oct. 22nd, 2004 04:22 pm (UTC)
Oh please, like anyone knows what love is at ages 19? Just because you are fat and lonely, you are definitely not the next Carrie Bradshaw. Give it a rest!
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