Romance: Right or Utterly Wrong?
The American dream is to go to college after high school, then find a great career that will support all kinds of awful money habits, then a totally cute story of how you met “the one”, followed by a marriage to said person, and a couple of squealing babies as well. At last is retirement where you grow old with your significant other, have tons of grandkids to dote on, and eventually die together.
Then there’s the other American dream of becoming Brittany Spears or the next Angelina Jolie. Maybe even the next Beatles or president. Either way, all of those take longer than the standard American dream, and may leave certain parts out, but include the soul mate you die with at the end.
I mean, who wants to die alone? My question is why exactly should that include a soul mate? Or a marriage? Or, for another discussion, a successful career that others will appreciate and wish they had? Why do we just have those options for happily ever after?
In movies they try to make you see how great the American dream is. They create characters who question it as you might, then they make those characters go on some sort of self-discovering journey, then they find “the one” and get married in a way that is a new, cute love story. The big deal is supposed to be that they still got the American dream, but in their own cute way.
What about the people who aren’t playing parts in movies? How is that supposed to help people actually find “the one”? How is that teaching them a new way to look at the world around them? Isn’t that what movies are supposed to do, after all?
Music can have a similar effect. All those pop songs that aren’t about getting wasted or having sex are usually an ode to how much they love someone. How they complete them. How their life is so much better now. Where are the songs that talk about how love doesn’t make things simple and happy, but complicated and confusing as well?
Don’t get me wrong, I believe in love. I like to imagine a really attractive guy out there who is listening to Green Day right now and dreaming of a girl with poofy brown hair and a ruler body shape. But I gave up my seat on the I’m-saving-everything-for-the-one train a long time ago. There are plenty of good prospects out there that I intend to look in on. Other equally attractive guys who may need some music education but are here and real and could be lying on top of you in the next five minutes if you wanted them to. Waiting for “the one” is becoming increasing out dated in our society. And I’m not talking about just sex, here. I’m talking about the numbers of singles picking up other singles at clubs and taking them home, knowing full well that tomorrow night it will be someone else. The women who hunt for men at the gym. The men who check out women in the mall. We’re always looking, but now we’re usually looking for someone who can fulfill our needs right now instead of forever. Eventually the game changes and it does become forever, but that usually makes people feel crazy after all the frustration and loneliness because they’re not finding anyone right away.
Why? Why do single women look at married ones with envy? Why do married men look at single ones with envy? Why are we always stuck unhappy with our romantic lives?
My theory is this “the one” idea. Not one person can fulfill all our needs. Not all two billion of them. All of those people we label as “the one” are just people like us, not superheroes. They’re not gifts from the heavens any more than you or I are. They’re dumb people who are walking around, not sure who they’ll end up with, either.
Why weren’t there any fairy tale love stories about people who live as bums and travel together, in love some days and other days on their own. Or love stories about the lovers who live on different continents and never speak unless one visits the other in France or whatever. What about the love stories about people who are completely open about what they want: love, but not ownership.
I’m not an expert on happily ever after. I’ve barely left a footprint on the earth, let alone any other sort of impression. But as a member of the current generation of teenagers, I can say that where we’re headed in terms of love looks dreary. Passion, and love, are beautiful. And we should all know that you can’t hold onto beautiful things forever. You have to let them go and find different ones.
Originally written: 8/7/11