Thoughts on Love and Other Oddities of Life7:30 AM
[Due to the intriguing confusion in my soul brought about by this post, I bring you the following.]
Ever since reading Emma I have been a cynic of love. To be sure, a cynic in this sense does not necessarily mean an abstainer of it; the whole thing is rather an interesting and unnecessary study: perfect for a female teenager such as myself. Now before Emma I was quite the unbridled romantic. I even convinced myself that Ella Enchanted could have some base in reality. I am rather a bridled romantic now (my notebook contains lists of husbandly attributes, romantic reflections and articles on Calvinism one after the other and sometimes written on the same night).
Nonetheless I vowed never to be so stupid as all that. That Emma and Harriet could change affections so frequently is, of course, the epitome of everlasting love; but I could not help feeling uncomfortable by it. And the whole business of Frank Churchill marrying Jane Fairfax and Mr. Knightley wedding Emma - nothing fair or natural in love there. (I hardly dare admit to being the only girl in the world who thinks a little less of Mr. Knightley for loving Emma so unconditionally - perfect as he is otherwise.)
I myself have imagined myself in love, oh, zero to five times, depending on the definition of the word. We girls spend a whole lot of energy thinking of Certain Young Gentlemen to whom we dare not even hint (passionate tumbles of the abdomen notwithstanding) we like - we dursn't even talk to him. We look at him, hands twisting, hearts fluttering, and he doesn't look at us, and we go home sighing, "I think he really must like me after all!"
In my humble opinion, conservative Christian girls love with all the passion, confusion and effectiveness of Echo. It's all rather romantic, isn't it?
And the thing that's so hard about loving is that it takes two people to get anywhere and that the opposite sex is so perverse and enigmatic at going about it. I mean, wouldn't there be more marriages in the Christian community if guys just married the first girl who fell in love with him? There would be an explosion of marriages - though I admit there might be problems if all the girls in one church loved the only eligible young man there.
That was my thinking before I became an EEC (Enlightened Empowered Cynic, pronounced "eek!"). After becoming reconciled to reason, I began to see how ridiculous young love is. It's pointless, in the sense that state law prohibits most marriages in the teens and parents proscribe where the state falls short. To make matters worse, it's all so complicated and nobody agrees on the rules. For instance, conservative girls insist that talking to young men poses too many dangers; slightly conservative girls say that we can talk to boys and just be friends; liberal girls - well, you know liberal girls, bless them.
But the guys didn't get the memo. I've found that when I don't talk to young men I fall in love with them, and if I do talk to them they fall in love with me. And that's almost as frightening.
As I said, nobody agrees on the rules. Nice, modest young ladies generally act demure, cautious and sensible - they get labelled as rejects for being boring as rocks and unapproachable; smiley, happy, carefree girls are flirts to the modest girls and friends to the guys (though, of course, those aren't the marriageable types). The whole thing's downright confusing. If I smile at him, rumors of love get floated around; if I don't smile, I need to lighten up and get more comfortable. If a guy is nice to me, I naturally assume twelve roses ought to show up in his hand soon; if he isn't, I can generally convince myself he adores me anyway. So we have it that any move - smile, step, blink, breath - naturally leads to the conclusion of his passion. Were he to stand asphyxiated, frozen, not doing anything lest he do something lover-like, it's obvious he is smitten with love. Even I know that.
We have all agreed to be pure and above-board and chums but not chummy and we still fall in love. Or it actually works and leaves the entire Christian populace unmarried; to wit, I have to be merely friends with guys, but if I do, I won't get married because we're just friends; they can't fall in love with me even if I'm willing for they suppose I'm just interesting in being friends alone.
But I'm not sure being in love is worth much, after all. People you admire most for sanity turn tongue-tied and red and sappy, saying things cut from a cheap romantic flick and doing things that, were it not for your patient charity, wouldn't cause even a camel to fall in love. People lose their minds. Things that aren't funny suddenly are. Stupid things are particularly clever. Certainty becomes uncertain and everything's muddled up in a fragrance of roses and chocolate. I think lovers create alternate universes: population 2.
Thus in conclusion, I must say that it's a wonder anybody gets married at all.