I am thoroughly convinced that modern love remains the same, no matter how old or how new it is. In his song of that name, David Bowie warns, “don’t believe in modern love.” If you ask me, I think you have to believe in it–it’s been around so very long, how could it be wrong?
Lately I’ve borne witness to modern love of the teenaged variety. Now, I’ve been parenting teens for several years, and rarely do I truly get a glimpse into their cloistered world; my kids usually make certain that I’m excluded from that elite club. However we’ve been hosting French foreign exchanges students over the past week, and because of the many events slated at which host families are requested to be in attendance, I’m getting a rapid education in modern love, international style.
Ten days ago, a group of bleary-eyed teens from a small town in France arrived at our high school parking lot, full of trepidation, not quite sure if they would be stuck with lame hosts (and hosts worried they’d be stuck with lame guests!), and probably wondering what their American counterparts would be like. In a few short days we’ve watched with amusement the transformation from apprehension to near aggression–that is, when it comes to pursuit of that elusive concept, modern love.
It’s been interesting to observe these teens’ progression from virtual strangers with very little evidently in common, to friends, in a matter of a few short hours to, well, what definitely appears to be more than just friends…
Over the weekend, we attended yet another gathering for the group, this one to watch
It was downright refreshing (well, until we noticed one of our kids was involved)! But seriously, what it did do was bring back that feeling of what it’s like to fall in love again–with someone you hardly know, but you know it feels right, and you’re willing to sort of put it out there for all to see because the passion takes over the logic, and even if under normal circumstances you wouldn’t be caught dead with your parents seeing you in a clinch with a kid you barely know and with whom you can hardly communicate (at least verbally!), well, under the circumstances, it just happens.
Ahhh…if only we could bottle that raw, fervent emotion and uncork it when we need it most, imagine how much better off we’d all be! Especially because eventually that powerful passion fades. After all, such intensity is hard to sustain, so how could it not?
This was a theme I wanted to explore when I wrote Sleeping with Ward Cleaver. After that ardent passion fades and mundane reality takes over, after the happily-ever-after: then what? You fall in love, get married, and expect things to be perfect. But then you start to take each other for granted and life takes over and kids come along and life is more about survival and trying to keep your head above water than worrying about stoking the fires of passion that once overrode everything else. I’ve seen enough marriages not be able to forge past those hard times (my own parents included), so I loved the idea of creating a couple who are at the point of deciding whether their marriage is salvageable, and if so, how in the world are they going to fix it? It’s something I think a lot of people experience in their own lives and I figured they could relate to. Maybe it’s my attempt to create a happily ever after, re-dux: to give readers a chance to feel what it might be like to fall in love all over again, this time with the same person.
It breaks my heart that in one week we will wave farewell to a lovely group of French teens, many of whom have fallen crazy in love for kids who live an ocean away–not exactly a recipe for sustaining a viable relationship. But at least they’ve have had the great fortune of experiencing that force field that everyone eventually comes to recognize as love. And whether it’s modern or not, fact is, it’s as old as the hills, and most of us would give anything to experience that feeling again and again.