August 29, 2007
Other than a warm, house-trained puppy and a cellulite cream that really works, there is nothing better than young love.
One of my co-workers approached me last week wondering if he should ask the new girl in his life to be his girlfriend. Given the fact that he's in his twenties and part of that "friends with benefits"- generation, I said that sounded great, but maybe he should define exactly what "girlfriend" meant. I advised him to keep his comments grounded in the present and tell her the wonderful qualities she possessed which made their relationship so enjoyable.
He reported back a few weeks later with an absolute glee in his eye that she had said to him that morning, "I love you," which doubled as terrific news and his excuse for being late. I congratulated him but also warned him that new love is a physical phenomenon that can have many flu- like symptoms.
Luckily love in your twenties is uncomplicated. Your futon or mine? There's no reason to believe it won't last. The purity of love when you're young is like fresh mountaintop snow, but as you age it's a bit more like city snow where too many people have driven through and pissed on it. Sure the new guy seems terrific but so was that last guy who ended up borrowing three grand and using it for his ex-girlfriend's boob job. And you were totally attracted to her wild side until you realized it wasn't just a side.
When your life becomes more complex, questions revolve not around how soon can you say, "I love you," but about when to reveal your IRS problem. You may have to navigate ex-spouses, credit card debt, long work hours and gravity.
If one more person says, "If you're really in love it doesn't matter . . ." I'm going to smack them on the head with the boxed set of Pride and Prejudice. Concerns of who is going to do the dishes, pick up the kids, pay the cable bill, and clean up after the lab puppy that ate the non-effective cellulite cream and barfed all over the living room get in the way. You could rewrite the phrase to say, "If you're independently wealthy without having to work and are unaffected by hormonal shifts – AND really in love, it doesn't matter." I'd buy it then.
But is that totally unromantic? Is it just yellow snow? Are we all consumed with the wrong things? Has cortisol from the stress replaced the love pheromones coursing through our bodies? Like the overuse of antibiotics leading to stronger strains of infections, has too much disappointment made us resistant to love?
Caution is a prophylactic we use for the experience. Either we can be mired in past pain or worried about the future. What we girls needed growing up instead of Sleeping Beauty was Be Here Now Barbie. She's not bitter over all those years of Ken's impotence or fretting about refinancing her Barbie McMansion. She has affordable insurance on the Camper with full glass (or plastic) coverage and never has to worry about gaining weight. Sure she's a little stiff but look at half the women out there who've overdosed on Botox and have the exact same frozen expression on their faces. It's all good.
Maybe the problem with getting older isn't love itself but just over thinking it. I'm here torturing myself over everything from Jane Austen's class conscious society to Barbie's sex life and my guy is outside with a chain saw in his hands totally content. But when I think about the look on my co-worker's face and how happy he was just in that moment because love was grand all I can say is, Bravo. Bottle it.
You can find more of my writing at HamptonsHeather.com or drop me a line at email@example.com