I didn’t date as a young teen so I never got caught up in that tragic, melodramatic, misinterpreting Romeo and Juliet kind of affair. Actually, I was a straight up dork for the majority of my adolescence and while I hated it at the time, I can tell you now as an adult I am grateful for the lack of opportunity to have been so very dumb. I’m also grateful for the lack of social media. And for cameras that only got pulled out on special occasions. Because there are things… oh, there are some fashion choices and hairstyles I am very happy not to have recorded for posterity.
Not the point, Eda. Stop making that “bear claw as bangs” gesture.
Admittedly, my first love–which happened in my sophomore year of college when I was 18 and a very serious student who couldn’t afford a hit to the GPA–got a little forevery. There was mention of marriage… some day. Of futures and houses and children… some day. But that was never our focus so it never got out of control.
Then again, in the 90s, it was all Beverly Hills 90210 and Friends and Titanic and Baz Lurhman’s Romeo and Juliet so our media role models weren’t forevering it either. They were gettin’ busy and movin’ on or… you know, dying.
That’s what makes me feel for all those Twilight kids. All those late 2000s teens with their vampire romance and their various shades of gray, the Teen Moms and The Notebookers thinking love is this magical thing that just happens and lasts forever, like the rest of your life is just a footnote in your love affair and everything after “I do” or “Bite me” is a continuing loop of the last dramatic kiss before the credits role.
I’ve been married less than a handful of years and I can’t remember the last dramatic kiss. I’m stuck in the day-to-day, “How many times do I have to ask you to close the goddamn blinds so our neighbors can’t see us drinking out of the milk carton at midnight” kind of crap. The “I changed the last poopy diaper; it’s your turn” stuff. The “yeah, I want another baby but I literally don’t have the energy to take off my own pants right now” kind of romance reserved for family life post-movie credits. It’s not the kind of thing fanfic gets written about. Not accurately anyway.
When I wrote Like Two Opposite Things, I was very conscious of the FOREVER teen romance mindset, most especially as I witnessed the very public breakup of my teenage cousin and her 4-EVA boyfriend (of 5 months) and subsequent profession of 4-EVA and undying love of her NEW boyfriend… live on Facebook. (For real, I hate Facebook.)
Of the many “opposite things” in my book is a comparison of that kind of relationship, full of promises and passion, with a more realistic, “I like you but we’re 15 so… let’s see how things go,” perspective of a kid who’d been through the ringer already and isn’t interested in a second go. She’s a 15-going-on-40 year old and maybe the character who most represents the author’s (old lady) voice but I would never put it above an intelligent teenager to see through media portrayals and cultural falsehoods and act as the voice of reason in an otherwise ridiculous situation. And if there were more media portraying realistic teen relationships to consume, maybe more teens would have more reasonable expectations of how relationships work.
Because I took vows, man. I really did say Forever and For Better or Worse and while our worst has been pretty tame so far, forever gets harder to visualize when those goddamn blinds are open again and I can actually SEE our neighbor trying to peek in here. You know what? The next TWO poopy diapers are YOURS now as punishment.