Monday, October 1, 2007

The Age of Innocence.

When I was 13, I met the nicest boy my 13-year old romantic-self could have ever imagined. We spent an amazing week in the historical farmlands of New England, and he inspired me to believe that romance could be real. Then I went back to California and never spoke to him again. For the next 3 years, I idealized him and held fast that romance with a nice guy was worth holding out for. Then I discovered The Romantics. Not the band, mind you. I discovered poetry.

The next logical conclusion for my 16-year old self was to share the beauty of poetry with someone- but who? Well, the nicest guy EVER, of course! The one I had not spoken to for 3 years! I came up with the brilliantly, wildly romantic idea of sending him one poem a day for two weeks, leading up to Valentine's Day. Between Lovelace, Wordsworth and The Beatles, I had plenty of great material. I can still remember some of those poems now (they're good. Really, REALLY good.) What's even better about this story is that when our mutual friend discovered I was the secret admirer, she told me that he was in knots trying to figure out who could be sending him song lyrics and poetry. At the end of the two weeks, he somehow discovered that it was me. I had been utterly convinced that he wouldn't even remember who I was, but when he realized his secret admirer was me, he was- to put it mildly- excited. I can barely remember our telephone conversation that day- only feeling embarrassed at finally being discovered and also thrilled that he was so excited to know I remembered him. I promptly lost all interest afterward (he was on the other side of the country, after all!), but have never lost the thrill of lyricism of great poetry OR the thrill of romancing someone else.

Today, I find that I'm less willing to do something that will make me look vulnerable. Why would I put my soul, or heck! even my Tuesday night on the line, and risk giving a hint that I might be interested in someone before he proves that he's interested in me? What happened? When did romantic gestures become silly, impractical, and risky? Why aren't we more expressive, impulsive, and honest about our feelings? Would it be so terrible if people knew we liked them? Appreciated them? Admired them? And maybe even found them kissable? What are we so afraid of? And don't tell me "rejection;" because really, what's the difference between rejection and being ignored or suffering in silence? Either way, you end up without your paramour. At least by acting on your feelings you can share the thrill of potential magic. Magic. Chemistry. Poetry. It all transforms simple elements into something inspiring, uplifting, and beautiful. Maybe the process is more important than the end result. I still remember the thrill of marking my poetry books and finding the best lyrics far more than the thrill of actually talking to the boy I had used as my standard for romance for 3 years. At the risk of appearing reckless, maybe we should simply throw our romantic gestures out there a little more often and see what magic sticks. Because if chemistry can create a really, really bad smell sometimes, at some point, it's bound to make an amazing explosion. And hopefully, one day, we'll create a spark that lasts a lifetime.

20 comments:

Salt H2O said...

The difference between rejection and silence is hope. Those that get rejected have no hope, where if you never try- you still have the hope that someday it could happen.

You're right, it's pathetic, but true. (FYI, George Washington proposed to a number of 13 year old girls and they all shot him down- he just wanted to get married, then he proposed to the wealthiest widow in Virginia, they shared a fireless bed, but hey he got rich and she got to be the first lady EVER. I guess settling sometimes isn't totally terrible.)

bechtold clan said...

Your right!!! It was after dating a few guys and none of them doing anything remarkably special, that when I was dating my hubby- he put together a CD of a band we just saw and loved who was farily new on the scene...While a CD isnt a big deal, its the thought and time that goes behind doing something for someone- be it poetry etc.I knew then that he was a man that would be willing to surprise me from time to time..and do nice things on occassion. And happy to report he still does.

caroline said...

mixtapes are the ultimate form of poetry.

f*bomb. said...

ooohhh, how did you know?!?!

I always top off my romancing with a good mix tape. ALWAYS.

Tannerama said...

Hmmm. I feel that, once again, the line between honest affection and stalkery behavior is interest from the other person. That we aren't more open with our feelings because of not only the fear of rejection but the fear of public perception.

I don't want to be known as the guy who is always making his feelings for girls known by sending them poems or song lyrics... However, I do love making mixtapes. And I am amazing at it. Seriously. I don't mean to brag but, there are a precious few people that can parallel me at mixtape wizardry.

f*bomb. said...

How come I never got a mix tape, T-Bag?
I even still have my walkman...

Tannerama said...

I actually have one that I am prepping for you. But, I lost your address. Though, it will be in CD form.

k8 said...

i gotta agree with Tanner. Unless someone is into you, the grand gesture usually makes you look like CRAZY. particularly if you are female.

sad though, because i love this kind of stuff.

f*bomb. said...

Does it always have to be some grand gesture, though? Maybe I'm more shy (when it comes to showing my feelings) than most, but to me, even the small kind gestures get suppressed when the feelings are sincere.

caroline said...

i'm shy enough that when i like someone, my grand gestures are suppressed into completely avoiding eye contact and any interaction with said crush. paradoxically, i inflict that exact same behavior on people i dislike. maybe that's why i only date when i get set up. go figure...

Sarita said...

I suffer from the same plight. I am either mute around those who spark an interest, or if I'm vocal, I make a complete fool of myself.

I'm like that in other social situations as well.

k8 said...

you don't see sending poetry every day to a near stranger as a slightly grand gesture?

The Dally Llama said...

I sometimes think that the difference between rejection and suffering in silence is an emotion that lies somewhere between fear and self-respect.

This entry reminded me of exactly why I am sometimes a little gun shy. I had been dating this girl for a couple of months, and it seemed to be going pretty well at the time. She had mentioned in passing a type of flower that she really liked. I'm no dummy, so when she dropped that little nugget, took mental note for future use. I worked graveyard shifts at the time, so one night I found directions online on how to make an origami version of this type of flower, and spent about 7 hours learning how to make one. My final version was actually not too bad, considering that I had never done origami before, and that I did it after being awake 22+ hours straight. However, before I had the chance to give it to her, I got stood up, and then dumped the next day. Ouch baby. Very ouch. For some odd reason, I still have it in the glove box of my car 4 years later. I'm really not sure why I haven't thrown it away, come to think of it.

So there you have it. While I can't speak for others, I'm sometimes gun shy because of an emotion that falls somewhere between fear and self-respect/dignity. I'm not saying it's smart or that it's good. I'm just saying that it is.

f*bomb. said...

Origami. It worked for Sara and Michael Scofield. And I'm sure it would work on Lindsey and Rhyll, too.

As for my bout with poetry...I only did that once when I was 15; but he was terribly excited over it, and he was really excited that it came from me, so maybe he was just as much a romantic as I was. Or maybe we're not cynical or jaded enough in high school to know that people can lie or fake their feelings.
In recalling that story, it seems so far away that my last relationship would constantly tease me because he thought I wasn't romantic. Maybe it was because I didn't trust the sweet words of this smoothtalker, and it wasn't until I knew him well, trusted in his character and his intent that I felt okay about letting him be "romantic." Which is sad to me, really, because deep down inside I LOVE romance...I just don't let it happen anymore. And I suspect most of us are like that.
When did it all become so complicated? Why can't we just show love to those we love and not have it be such a big deal? As the Black Eyed Peas quandried, "Where is the Love???"

Silvs said...

I really dig on this post because I have been thinking about these exact same things lately. I used to fall so hard for girls and I knew in an instant whether or not I was into that person. Then my standard procedure was writing notes, and leave them on the door of her apartment, or on her car. I wrote notes, letters, even poems. I was always about just laying it out on the line. But the last couple of years I'm just not that person anymore. At least not so quickly. I don't think that I couldn't be, I just think that the older me is a little more protective because doing that stuff really leaves you vulnerable and it's hard to be so exposed all the time. I think at the same time, there is no reward if there is no risk.

Favorite poet - at least for romantic stuff - Pablo Neruda. Hands down. Nobody does romance like latin people and his 100 Love Sonnets will make you quiver. And for a painting that will make you weak in the knees, check out Jean Leon Gerome's Pygmalion and Galatea. I love the story behind that painting. Romance in its purest form is probably the most beautiful thing in the world. But maybe that's just the latin in me coming out...

k8 said...

i LOVE Pablo Neruda.

l-o-v-e.

f*bomb. said...

I love how all my Latin friends blame their romanticism on being Latin. I blame my Asian heritage when it comes to my insane flexibility and ability to sound like I'm yelling, even when I'm not (their language is TONEal.)

In college, I'd sneak into the Pablo Neruda section of the library and read his poems in Spanish out loud to myself, just to hear the way the words sounded. And I don't speak Spanish. That is some good $#!%. But leaving it on the cars of girls you don't really know...that might be a bit TOO much- even for me. How can feelings be real and that intense, when you don't know someone very well? Real connectivity comes when you know each other, understand one another, and form a bond THAT way- THEN expressing yourself is very, very good.
But being nice and not being afraid to reach out and show kindness- we could all definately be doing that a little more often with a little less fear.

caroline said...

after reading all of these posts, i realize that i'm probably the least romantic person in the world.

Broek said...

Speaking of romance, it's a commodity now...

Check the "Craigslist Meets Wall Street...Classic" post on Oct 4 from this site...
http://howardlindzon.com/

(Yikes, check yourself before you wreck yourself sisters.)

f*bomb. said...

Somehow I think (nay, KNOW) Vanilla Vice will be ALL OVER that article...
Funny- you're the second person in the last day that's shown me this article...it's been on rotation for quite some time now, but it's still clever. And highly disturbing...