Take a breath and go.
I stepped into the lobby of the talent agency and glanced at the sprawl of magazines on the coffee table. “What was I getting myself into?” I thought, “I had one shot to convince these people that I could hang.”
On a recent Thursday night, I found myself interviewing for a board position in the West Los Angeles Alumni Club. As I sat around the conference table, I began to berate myself silently for showing up too early and having to make awkward conversation with an established board member. To my surprise, however, we quickly shifted to a topic that I knew something about.
“Have you seen Glee?” asked George Ross.
I have to be honest; I was excited about Glee from the moment that I saw a promotion for the show. I was never a choir kid in high school but I’ve developed an appreciation for good arrangements through my many hours spent listening to college a cappella.
George Ross (yes, that’s his name) and I proceeded to chat briefly about the show as I began to explain my thoughts about the song selection and why the show worked—ruminating on popular culture is what I do, after all.
After we parted, I didn’t think much more about the show or about musicals until my coworker broached the subject at dinner a week later. We began discussing Moulin Rouge after it was mentioned that I had strong objections to the film.
“What’s so bad about it?” Lauren queried.
In my head, the lights dimmed and a screen came down behind me as I prepared to launch into my diatribe explanation.
Back in high school, I was naive and I whole-heartedly bought into the romantic aspects of Moulin Rouge. Yet, watching it now, I reflect on how much I’ve grown since then. I am still swept away by the idea that the perfect love can transport you to places unknown and that there are moments of greatness in any relationship, but I also know that the dark side of love never goes away.
After all is said and done, after the wild ride of passion is over, you realize that love doesn’t—and can’t—conquer all. The good guys don’t always win and there is no such thing as happy ever after. Dreams do come true, but just as easily broken. The great poets have it wrong: love can’t move mountains, make rocks cry, or raise the dead. You see that we are human after all and that love isn’t always forever.
I promise that I am not bitter about this whole thing, but I do think that we as young people are so entrenched in the mystique of love that we attempt to feel a glimmer of the emotion any way that we can. We do what we can to connect to others and to avoid rejection, and this sometimes leads us to do things that we shouldn’t. We’ve all heard stories about women confusing sex with love, but also think about the times that you’ve used sex to make someone stay—maybe it’ll turn into a real relationship?—or agreed to unsafe sex just so someone would notice you.
Rather than bemoan the downfall of love, I think that this perspective offers a bit of freedom. Through all of this, we find that we have, in ourselves, the invincibility that we ascribed to love; we discover that no matter how we are challenged, there’s a part of ourselves that only we can give away. We realize how fragile and precious the feeling is—and how lucky we are to have it.
In the end, doesn’t that make it all the more worthwhile? Committing yourself to something knowing that it’s imperfect, knowing full well that the magic doesn’t last? To me, that makes it priceless.