Bad Love

I just watched the film Blue Valentine starring Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams. A terribly stark look at the sun-kissed glow of love at the beginning of a relationship contrasted with the souring stench of a love gone bad in that same relationship years later.

It was a sad, uncomfortable movie to watch, but one that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about since it finished. So please excuse me while I get a little philosophical on you. Actually, let’s invite 19th century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche into the conversation.

He was famous for his “God is dead” theory, but Nietzsche also said: “There is always some madness in love. But there is also always some reason in madness.”

We hunger for love, look for it, maybe even need it, and have the ability to feel it so profoundly. To intensely connect with another human on that level might be the most beautiful, fulfilling thing in life, and yet equally as great as our ability to love is our ability to hurt and devastate those same people we loved. No one wants to cause someone they once loved so purely pain (well, usually not), but it happens. We take advantage of each other, we stop appreciating each other, we cheat on each other, we fall out of love with each other, we ruin each other.

Since we do this to each other over and over again knowing what we’re getting into, we’re all a little mad, no? Anyone who has ever had his or her heart broken knows full well the terrifying pain and torment it is to go through that loss, and yet, many of us can hide the scars of past hurt and jump right back in when the opportunity for love presents itself again. To me, this is a brave, courageous thing to do, and one I’m trying to be better at.

Dr. Maya Angelou says: “Have enough courage to trust love one more time. And always one more time.”

In honor of that, and living through love gone bad, here’s Arcade Fire’s Crown of Love:

Rollerblades!

Right around my 10th birthday, I was obsessed with the following: Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, the Bryan Adams song from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, perms, puppies, Blossom, The Traveling Wilburys, trampolines, and the beautiful thought that I soon be the owner of a pair of rollerblades.

I had told all of the cool girls from school that I was getting rollerblades for my birthday and they had agreed that if I had rollerblades, I would finally be able to join their rollerblading posse. They all had really cool nicknames like Bo and Flo and Jo and, if I got in to the group, they would give me my very own nickname (Ho?) and we would rule the neighborhood.

The Dream of My Life:

On the morning of my 10th birthday, my mother walked into my room carrying a very large box.

I was so, SO excited that she had obviously gotten me the rollerblades I had been asking for all year.

I shredded the wrapping paper in a delirious fit of delight as my mom happily watched, perhaps slightly scared of my enthusiasm.

The moment of truth arrived as I lifted the box open.

And there it was…

A pink bathrobe.

I looked at my mother with the sort of serious disappointment one has when their life’s dreams are beaten down until barely recognizable and then murdered.

Like this, except although I was awkward looking as a child, I was still a human:

“Thank you,” I said to my mom, desperately trying to hide my heartbreak and suppressing the cry lump that was rising in my throat. Clearly my mother was intent on ruining my entire childhood.

I didn’t complain because when someone gives you a gift, you pretend you like it, no matter what. Even when you are expecting rollerblades and you get a really stupid, ugly, pink grandma robe.

The worst part about this was I now had to tell my friends who I had bragged to that I was going to have the coolest rollerblades in town, that I hadn’t gotten the rollerblades.

Upon hearing the news, those bitches swiftly kicked me out of the rollerblading club and I spent the summer riding my old, ugly bike.

I also fell off my bike that summer and still have an inch-long scar on my upper thigh from where the pedal cut me. I’m not saying this would’ve been avoided had I gotten rollerblades, but probably.

For months, every time I saw that pale pink bathrobe hanging on the back of my door, I cringed and secretly planned how I could light it on fire in my bathtub and then collect the ashes and leave them wrapped in a nice box for my mom as a present. I never did this, because I’m mostly only psychotic in thought, not action.

I avoided bathrobes for most of my adolescence and early 20s because of this event. I only recently bought one because when I first moved to Rome, I lived with a strange, hairy Romanian philosopher who would stare at me when I ran from the bathroom to my bedroom in a towel.

My 10th birthday taught me important life lessons. One should never expect anything! It seems the minute you start thinking “I’m the Rollarblading Queen of the World!!!” something will happen to remind you that you are, in fact, a pink-bathrobe-wearing plebeian.

In retrospect, being denied entrance into the cool kids club due to lack of rollerblades was probably for the best. Humiliation, disappointment and having your childhood dreams squashed builds character like nothing else can.

*Also, my mom bought me rollarblades the next year and I used them for two months before retiring them to the garage for good. I was a terrible child and she is actually the world’s greatest mother.

The Big Man

Everyday, I open up my laptop to this image:

Clarence Clemons and Bruce Springsteen. The perfect rock pairing. Clemons is the smooth, soulful yin to Springsteen’s energetic, rocking yang. This picture makes me happy because it reminds me not only of a great album (Born to Run), but of great friendship as well.

Springsteen and Clemons adore each other, and their onstage interaction makes every concert with the E Street Band a little more playful.

Clemons is a big man. In fact, Bruce refers to him as the “big man” because he’s built like an oak tree. Tall, sturdy, lovely – a calm, sweet, big presence, even on a massive arena stage.

And like an oak tree, I’ve always thought of Clemons as an invincible and ever-present being. He was there at the beginning – an original member of the E Street Band, and it’s oldest at 69 – and he adds much of the soul to Bruce’s rock n’ roll.

His sax contributions to Lady Gaga’s latest album Born This Way have put Clemons on the map for millions of her “little monsters” who might have never heard of the great saxophonist save for from their parents, maybe.

Clemons has recently suffered a serious stroke and is said to be quite ill right now.

I’m praying for him and I hope you will too. Get better big man!