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    Modern Love by Jenny Gardiner
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  • Published: Oct 18th, 2007

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 France take a beating against England in the Rugby World Cup. While rugby was the excuse for the gathering, there were far more than scrums on the minds of these kids, who–a mere hour into the party–were found flirting with one another, some making out in the barn out back, others sitting in the laps of their American counterparts, many swapping spit and a few mad gropes wherever they could.

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.

26 Responses to “Modern Love by Jenny Gardiner”

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  1. Marisa
    on Oct 18th, 2007
    @ 4:38 am

    Falling in love again, with the same person is not always easy; and yet we do it all the time. When you’re in a relationship long enough it looks like a chart from a mathematical equation. There are lows and highs and in betweens. The most important thing is to remember the pendulum continually swings and to recognize the highs and realize that yes, it’s work, but what isn’t? If you do the ‘work’ right it’s worth it. Falling in love again with the same person is so much fun.

  2. Maria
    on Oct 18th, 2007
    @ 6:05 am

    Jenny – you are so right! Modern love is as old as the hills. You brought me back to a MUCH earlier time – when I would through caution to the wind for that teenage passion or angst, depending on the situation.

    After more than 25 years of marriage, I think there is such a thing as happily ever after.

  3. Kim
    on Oct 18th, 2007
    @ 8:44 am

    Marisa–you are so very right. Long ago a very good friend told me something I’ve never forgotten. In a marriage you’ll fall in and out of love with each other many times. The trick is to make it though the out times.

    Great blog Jenny!

  4. jenny g
    on Oct 18th, 2007
    @ 9:07 am

    Marisa–you are so right about that. My parents split up after 25 years of marriage and my brothers and I still half joke that they’ll get back together. Because I do think that things reach peaks and valleys, and sure, the valleys can be REALLY low, you know? But it’s all about toughing it out and working through problems. It’s not always easy to do, but sometimes it’s good to revisit why you fell in love with each other in the first place.
    Maria–I’m glad I brought you back those good old days…We all still remember them so vividly, don’t we?
    Kim–I think that’s exactly right–you really do fall in and out of love. There are times when you probably want to kill your spouse, but then there are other times when it all makes sense and you realize it was worthwhile toughing it out through those bad times…
    Thanks for posting!

  5. jbesnow
    on Oct 18th, 2007
    @ 9:25 am

    As someone who is celebrating her 9th anniversary today, I can say that love does persevere – I love my husband a little more every day and marvel at how lucky we are to have found each other. BUT that teenage love you describe, full of passion (and hormones) is exciting and new, although scary and sometimes fleeting. It’s been a long time since I’ve sat on my husband’s lap in public or made out with him for all to see, but that’s not to say that the secret urge isn’t there…

  6. jenny g
    on Oct 18th, 2007
    @ 9:32 am

    That’s so sweet, J! And happy anniversary!

  7. golions87
    on Oct 18th, 2007
    @ 9:34 am

    20 years and counting here – yes, highs and lows. The trick is to remember what the high feels like when you’re in a low. Having read Jenny’s story, I can attest that this is one book you should not miss – she hits the nail on the head every time!

    (psst! Jen – good luck with that Parent Trap thing for your parents…LOL).

  8. gail
    on Oct 18th, 2007
    @ 9:42 am

    You nailed it, Jenny! So glad you’re writing about marriage. Can’t wait to read your novel!!!

  9. jenny g
    on Oct 18th, 2007
    @ 9:45 am

    Thanks gail! I hope you like it!!!!

  10. Kim
    on Oct 18th, 2007
    @ 10:01 am

    jbesnow! You and I share an anniversary. Today my husband and I celebrate 20 years since our first date. We started out full of teenage passion and angst but I think we’ve managed to turn it into something wonderful and lifelong:D

    Congrats to you!

  11. jenny g
    on Oct 18th, 2007
    @ 10:01 am

    Awwww….thanks golions! So nice of you to say that! Yeah, we’re thinking that we can have my folks end up on a camping trip together and all will be well LOL. NOT!

  12. Eileen
    on Oct 18th, 2007
    @ 10:32 am

    As one who has been the exchange student- there is a lot to be said for not always speaking the same language. It can make the relationship easier. : ) Great post!

  13. jenny g
    on Oct 18th, 2007
    @ 10:54 am

    LOL Eileen…we won’t ask questions!

  14. jriley
    on Oct 18th, 2007
    @ 11:07 am

    Jenny, this was brilliant! I was JUST thinking about this very topic. Ah, to be young again…I can’t wait to read your novel–(lucky me, I get an early peek!)

    (And now I have David Bowie in my head…)

  15. Stagmom
    on Oct 18th, 2007
    @ 11:08 am

    Perfect timing for me! Mark and I celebrate 16 years married tomorrow and tonight we’re off to see Bruuuuuuce at Madison Square Garden to celebrate. It IS hard to keep that spark once kids and bills start to mount. For me, my spark can be reignited with music from when we were dating. Or seeing certain old photos. I just having a great day. It can be easily snuffed out too! Young love is fantastic. Older married love is comfortable and can be just a good. Albeit a little saggier…. ๐Ÿ™‚


  16. jenny g
    on Oct 18th, 2007
    @ 11:14 am

    Happy Anniversary! And Bruce–lucky you!

  17. Diana Groe
    on Oct 18th, 2007
    @ 11:35 am

    Jenny, I’m so glad someone is writing about love beyond that first blush of initial attraction and raging hormones. Love for a lifetime is what we all long for and unfortunately so few manage to achieve. I’m blessed to come from a “long line of lovers.” My parents will celebrate their 54th anniversary this Christmas Day (yeah, it’s a stupid day to get married on, but on the plus side, no money wasted decorating the church!). My dad’s folks spent over 65 years together. I think it’s helped me to see the kind of commitment it takes to make a marriage stick in our throw away world.

    About the little saggier comment . . . My husband’s imagination has always been my best asset. Turn the lights off, for pity’s sake, and have some fun!

    Still crazy about my husband after all these years,

    SILK DREAMS, “Lushly sensual, sumptuously written historical romance”–The Chicago Tribune

  18. Cathy in AK
    on Oct 18th, 2007
    @ 11:38 am

    The shiny excitement of new love has worn off my marriage of 15 years, but it’s been replaced by the warm glow of security and comfort. Though once in a while we manage to find a spot that sparkles like new ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Great post, Jenny. Can’t wait to read your book!

  19. Meretta
    on Oct 18th, 2007
    @ 11:46 am

    Great post, Jenny. I’m glad I’m still crazy over my guy. 15 years and counting!

    Can’t wait until your book is out!

  20. jenny g
    on Oct 18th, 2007
    @ 12:10 pm

    Thanks Diana, for your comments–you really are lucky that there’s such relationship longevity in your family! And I’m with you on turning the lights out LOL–my friend who is somewhat recently single said she cringes at the idea of having to meet a new guy and having him see her nearing-50 year old self–I told her that’s why god invented The Clapper (well, only the Clap-Off aspect of it!)

    Cathy, that is very well-put and I know exactly what you’re saying. But it is nice, that comfort and security, isn’t it? So many shared ventures–you can’t really put a value on that.

    Meretta–thanks for the post and yay for you that you’re still mad for him!

  21. suzmac
    on Oct 18th, 2007
    @ 12:53 pm

    So did your son fall madly in love with a french girl? Did you ever see the movie Breaking Away- the boy is obsessed with Italy and enters a bike race?

    Well yesterday the hubby and I are in bed and I tell him to stop being such a dick weed. and he laughes his head off and said it’s WAD woman, and turns the light off and I pick up my tiny ilttle glass of port and say something else pithy- and he decides to have a pillow fight. Well so you can imagine the red port all over that duvet cover etc. I have to say I laughed my head off (he didn’t know I’d picked up the glass!) and he was forced to apologize. Ah the glory of marriage. I personally survive by having Anne Taintor magnets everywhere. “When I married Mr. Right I didn’t know his first name was Always” LOL. Suz

  22. JenniferAshley
    on Oct 18th, 2007
    @ 1:01 pm

    Great post, Jen! I hope the French teens take away a good feeling about their time here, not just spit. eeewww. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I love that you’re book is about rekindling the flame (love the title, too). Marriage is all about fanning the flames over and over, and luckily I’ve been with someone (for 23 years now) where it’s still burning pretty high. I think when you get the right two people together, it works, despite trials and tribulations. In my personal experience, love deepens and grows through the years instead of fizzles.

    Congrats on landing the book contract. I’m looking forward to seeing it on the shelves!

  23. Maria
    on Oct 18th, 2007
    @ 1:08 pm

    I am lucky enough to have read an advance copy of Sleeping with Ward Cleaver (releases in February). It is wicked funny. Jenny describes marriage after several years, and a couple of kids (well in her book, more than a couple) to a tee. Just don’t drink while reading, I guarantee you’ll be spitting it up with laughter.

    For my money she has captured the essence of Modern Love after many years of marriage.

  24. jenny g
    on Oct 18th, 2007
    @ 1:10 pm

    LOL SuzMac–what a riot! Port in bed–it’s reached that point? ha ha
    Yes, I think he’s got a little thing for a very cute french girl. She’s been awfully sweet to me all week–trying to impress the mom LOL
    I hear ya on the Anne Taintor magnets–so true!

    And Jennifer–thanks for coming over to comment–23 years–good for you! We just had our 20th this spring. And thanks for the congrats ๐Ÿ˜‰

  25. Raz Steel
    on Oct 19th, 2007
    @ 8:29 am

    Ms. Gardiner, today I represent, umm, Hound and Hare Magazine d’Paris. Our readers would like to know… if any… hounds or hares were injured during the writing of Sleeping with Ward Cleaver? A book, which, I might add, our readers can’t wait to be released! How long do our readers have to wait, Ms. Garniner?

  26. Kathryne Kennedy
    on Oct 19th, 2007
    @ 9:05 am

    That’s an awesome title, Jenny, and the book sounds wonderful! I’m looking forward to reading it. I loved your post about teenage love, too! I’ve got a bit of it going on in my household…I forgot how very, very much teenage girls can giggle.:}
    Kathryne, another new Dorchester author.

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