Saturday, March 13, 2010

Confessions of a Non-Romantic

I was thinking last night about teenage emotions. I think this was triggered by the fact that my 36-year-old sister copped to a crush on Edward Cullen. She explained the concept of "Twilight Moms" to me by claiming that Stephanie Meyer managed to resurrect all of those "teenage emotions". I was dumbfounded.

Not about Stephanie Meyer--I haven't read the books and have no idea whether or not what my sister says is true. It was the idea that resurrecting teenage emotions was a good thing that blew my mind.

It's not that I don't remember those overpowering emotions. I knew how to wallow in those emotions with the best of them. In fact, I had little choice: I came of age in the era of Air Supply.

If you're too young to remember Air Supply or have engaged in hypno-therapy to help you forget, the band made a big smash in the early 80s with the ingenious branding strategy of recording the same song over and over again and changing the title slightly. After "Lost in Love" and "All Out of Love" they attempted to mix it up a bit with "Every Woman in the World", but it didn't make much difference: even though they'd taken the radical step of deleting "love" from the title, their third hit was largely interchangeable with the first two, and even their theoretically positive songs were mournful. In any case, the departure was apparently too extreme for them, and the next release put them back on more familiar ground wtih "The One that You Love". Recognizing how easily we might have confused their songs, the band stepped up and helped us out by repeating the title line ad nauseum in each one so we could remember exactly where we were.

The musical backdrop to our lives reminded us all day, every day that we'd never get over that one special guy--that the heartaches we were feeling now would never fade and in our golden years we'd still be looking back on that one special guy from the summer after our freshman years in high school and knowing that life had never been what it might have if we hadn't lost him. And that thrilled us. It made our romances so much more important to believe they'd have a lifelong impact. We wanted to keep them going for as long as we could, even if "keeping them going" meant crying ourselves to sleep.

We knew, in fact, that Olivia Newton-John was LYING when she claimed that she didn't want that "button pushing cowboy" playing the song she'd shared with her ex. What better way to wiggle the sore tooth of lost romance than to listen to "your song" over and over again?

Oddly, this certainty wasn't shaken in the slightest by the fact that the targets of our lifelong love kept changing, that we did, in fact, get over the guy we were never going to get over and then connect with another one we were sure we'd never get over and then get over him...

A funny thing happens as we age, though. It's called "reality". One day, you open up a box of old heartfelt letters (unsent) and love poems (horrendous) and find that you're not entirely sure to whom you wrote them. Barry Manilow lied to us! Did he even remember who "Even Now" was about?

It took most of us a long time to apply this information to our present lives, though. Those old near-forgotten romances were so easily distinguishable from our present ones, which--unlike our teenage loves--were "real". This time it really was the relationship we'd never get over!

Eventually, though, most of us caught on. Eventually, we began to recognize that while we felt like crap in the moment when a relationship ended, odds were that the sun would shine again and we would love again and, in short, life would go on. And reality was liberating. So when an adult woman talks to me wistfully about being swept back to the "good" old days in which she thought the world would end with every relationship and lived in fear of losing some boy whose name she's since forgotten, I just don't get it.

1 comment:

danilinn said...

Of course you don't get it. You're talking about AIR SUPPLY! When I was sixteen, Jon Bon Jovi was telling me "It doesn't really matter if we make it or not/ we got each other and that's a lot..."
Hey, he's no Edward Cullen, but at least he doesn't sparkle. And life in a trailer, wearing cutoff shorts (barefoot, but never hungry)and a dew rag with Shane Zieche-er, just kidding-Jon Bon Jovi sounds far more appealing than a whiny guy cuddled up to the phone crying for you.
Of course, there's another possibility: maybe the difference between chicks like me and chicks like you is a lot more than formative musical eras (I sat through yours, after all, Mrs. Rex Smith). It might not even have to do with little sister's proclivity for the bad boys (the vampire love of my life is, after all,is Spike, Joss Whedon's token punk rocker, not to mention the only vampire I've ever heard of who smokes).
No, it goes much, much further and farther back than you might think.
You dug Hot Wheels. I dug Barbie, but even more than that, anything impossible. Princesses, witches, an entirely magical world that I listened for when I closed my eyes at night. Especially the last fews years, listening for a young Springsteen to rev his engine outside the house and spirit me matter how badly crushed Bella and I always end up. It doesn't matter: we still got the chance to spin and catch air before the crash.
You, on the other hand, are content to be on your own feet, maybe always have been.
Just throwing it out there for consideration.
your loving sis,
dani linn