I was watching that Zach Braff movie this morning, you know the one with the pregnant girlfriend and the college girl he sleeps with…um….Last Kiss or something. It’s not a shining example of cinematic excellence, but it really pushed my buttons.
What IS it with the world today that people* are so terrified of adulthood? I wonder what it is about seeing people in older generations that makes us fear growing up. Because I can’t really think of a better explanation. But, before I set off on my rant, allow me to set the scene.
The movie is about a 29-year old man, who is a fairly successful architect, very much in love with his girlfriend, who suddenly discovers she’s pregnant. Of course they won’t get married because “Show me 3 couples you personally know who have lasted and I’ll marry you”, which is FINE, because inscribing oneself in some particular institutionalised form of heterosexual monogamy isn’t necessary to survival**, but they are a committed couple, except he must run off and have an affair with a 20-yr old, because he’s so scared that there are no surprises left and he’s getting old and it’s too much to handle. Of course she takes him back and whatnot, but what had me going WTF was the no more surprises oh I’m old my life is over bit.
Leave aside the fact that a child is in itself an infinite source of endless surprise, be it the I want to be a pilot mommy or the cocaine in his crucifix, how can giving oneself into commitment mean the end of all things new? Does this mean that all the single people are running around having wild sex and cuddles with random people and every morning they wake up and go surprise! Look whose bed I’m in! Heck where are those singles, I want in!
Seriously though, even if it did, is that what we really want? I don’t deny that there are people, many even, who probably are very happy with alternatives to the find a partner and share your life option, but this wild lemming-like panic is beyond me. Admit to a fellow 25-year old that the reason I’m having trouble picking a career is that I don’t WANT one beyond a house full of cats, dogs and babies, and they will faint or stab themselves in the eye before taking me seriously. Of course I’m not denying that when the kids are teenagers and don’t need me I’ll probably want to do something more, but I fail to understand why it is inadmissible to acknowledge that yes one is seeking a partner. Why is it a betrayal of your education, your goals, yourself to want to share whatever it is you want with someone else?
*takes deep breath*
To return to my point though.
What is it about the world today that makes people so terrified of dependence. Dependence has come to mean some sort of semi-parasitical existence, and you spend your twenties so scared of it that you shove everyone away and then when you turn thirty you wonder why you don’t know anyone and where have all the good men/women gone. But dependence doesn’t have to mean obligation, it doesn’t have to mean codependence! I can depend on my parents, I can depend on my sister, and each day I’m thankful for it. I can depend on my friends, well some of them at any rate, but that doesn’t mean I cannot function without them.
But again, I digress.
So the thing is, the movie made me wonder, if *hiss* settling down is such a bad thing, what DO these people want from life? Do they want to be forty-five, torturing themselves to look good and be out there, always ready to get hammered, always ready to get stoned, always ready to stay up all night watching porn? Seriously, the very thought of partying three nights in a row has me curling up into a foetal ball and whimpering. And I’m only twenty-five. Isn’t there a point when you’re tired? Aren’t there days when you DON’T want to wax your bikini line and suck in your stomach and head out to the bar in stilettos? Don’t you want to curl up on the couch in pyjamas and read a book while someone else is puttering about doing their own thing too? You want the Z4, but not the responsibility of paying the insurance?
Sometimes I wonder if the problem is that people are scared to be the odd one out. I find more and more blogs are either witty twenty-something singles who don’t want anything approaching commitment oh puhleeeese what are you from the middle ages??? and thirty or forty somethings who are desperately lonely and angry that they can’t find the perfect person and must now settle. What changes these people? Is it suddenly ok to want companionship when you turn thirty, but not before?
To me life has it’s telos, you age/mature/whatever, and appreciate some things, like Abbey Road, which I only liked after I hit puberty, and you don’t appreciate others, like being hungover with 3 hours sleep every night. Or maybe you do, I wouldn’t know. But isn’t it important to be able to say to yourself, hey I LIKE being 10 years older than everyone I hang out with, or I LIKE knowing I’ll wake up next to the same person every day. Whichever it is. Shouldn’t you be able to just say it?
*I’m very tempted here to say “Western” people, people from my generation, men, USAmericans, people who live in the US and Western Europe, but I shall refrain
**Another post. I promise. As if anyone’s reading!