How are you? Is the sun shining? Are you doing well? It’s two days into the school year and the stack of papers on my desk is already more than I can carry. Instead of tackling that parchment pile of pain, I watched a movie (don’t get mad at me) called “Beautiful Boy” about a father and his meth-addicted son, whom he loved very much.
Probably not, but I was too drunk to worry about the validity of the statement and too fixated on the idea of mitigating the inevitable wave of despair that I associate with falling back into sobriety. We lay there for a little while longer and chatted about pretty much everything , except for what was on our minds. Kant said that it was wrong to use someone as a means to an end, but I don’t really enjoy sex that much so I wasn’t too worried. James 1:15 briefly popped into my mind, but I’ve done worse so again I wasn’t too worried. I woke up early the next morning; we exchanged a hopeless ‘later’ and I began my long walk back to Cascadilla.
I’ll be 36 years old when he gets out of prison in 2030. It occurred to me that scientists have been saying that by that year all the polar ice caps will have melted. Across the street from Auburn, there’s a small gas station with a convenience store that sells Marlboros and sodas and lottery tickets and bite-sized snacks. Upon my first visit, I found it odd that a string of local businesses would situate themselves so near to a maximum-security facility. I guess Auburn prison has been around for so long that it’s merged into the landscape like a wall in the city.
This piece is very different from what I usually write; it is inspired from the NYT Modern Love column, which I read avidly, and from my own life – for one can speak generally and universally only to a certain extent. When my mother told me about love, she always mentioned Paolo, her high school sweetheart. When I asked why it ended, she confessed that she was dating someone else, an older guy; when Paolo found out, a fist fight broke out, and two relationships were broken up. I always found myself amazed at the fact that they didn’t punch her, as I wondered how is love compatible with deceit, fist fights and lies? My mother would quickly add that Paolo was too immature for her; it would have ended anyway.
I think part of me always knew I wanted to be more than friends, but in an attempt to avoid the emotional impaling that often comes with trusting another flawed human being, I kept the burgeoning feelings to myself. It wasn’t until she offered me socks that I realized I was in love with her. We were sitting on the edge of her ratty green couch, legs touching, our slush-ridden boots strewn across the carpet. My teeth were still audibly chattering from the cold (or maybe from sitting in close proximity to her?), an involuntary mannerism, more nettlesome than painful. “Do you want a fresh pair of socks?” she asked with a solicitous hand on my arm.
Buzzfeed, or some similar listicle oracle, recently informed me oh-so-helpfully of the top seventeen most romantic places to visit (I assume they meant with a partner and not just by yourself). Which, of course, got me thinking – what makes a place romantic? I guess this is where we have to admit that romantic means something different for everyone. So dozens of people might call Ithaca’s gorges romantic, but to one person that might mean, “Damn, these gorges really make me wanna bang anything that moves,” and to another, “Golly doesn’t this gorge just make me want to stare at the moon and talk about our spirit animals,” and to yet another person, “This would be a postcard-perfect place to begin an attempt to beat the 50% odds of divorce.” And yet, most people can agree that scenic vistas of nature are romantic, similar to cute or expensive restaurants or places that are quiet and private. Then, you have misattribution of arousal – a term used in psychology – which is actually pretty trippy.
When I went home for winter break and saw The Prince Who Turns Into A Frog broadcasting on television for the twentieth time since its first airing in 2005, I still felt the nostalgia that only certain dramas can evoke in me. The plot is quite cliché and unrealistic at times, but it is one of those classic dramas that unknowingly makes you accept the impossible for the hour that it broadcasts just so you can immerse yourself in the romantic fantasy of the drama. As expected, The Prince Who Turns Into A Frog revolves around the love story between a poor girl and a rich man – you know the gist. But their relationship is actually much more complicated than you think, with Shan Jun Hao, the CEO of a hotel chain, constantly getting into accidents and losing his memory and Ye Tian Yu, an ambitious gold digger, falling in love with the contrived identity she gave Jun Hao when he first loses his memory. Not to mention, Jun Hao was already engaged with his childhood friend Fan Yun Xi when he falls in love with Tian Yu after Tian Yu takes care of him while he remains clueless about his own past.