Monday, February 24, 2014

Love Lounge: On young love and Facebook

I'm SO excited about Facebook Fun Week, friends, and hope you are too. I wrote the following piece some five years ago, on a topic I'm all too familiar with -- young love...

My high school crush, Brown-Eyed Editor, got married a few years ago. The wedding resembled that of an elaborate fairytale: held in what looked like a centuries’ old castle with the green beauty of the Vermont countryside as its backdrop. And, of course, lots of groomsmen and bridesmaids dressed to the nines. It was the wedding every little girl sits on her bed daydreaming about.

Well, at least I think so. You see, I wasn’t actually at the wedding. We haven’t seen each other since our high school graduation 13 years ago. So how do I know all this? Simple. I vicariously lived the experience through the wonders of Facebook.

But back then, in the ancient times when social networking was done in, well, real time (doesn't that seem like a world away now?), I was head over heels for Brown-Eyed Editor. We worked on our school’s newspaper together: He was sweet and charming with a Chandler Bing-esque sense of humor. We graduated high school, and with the fling of my graduation cap also went my innocent schoolgirl crush on him. Leave it to the voyeur’s paradise that is Facebook, though, to give me a little behind-the-scenes peek of his wedding. It came in the form of photos posted by one of his groomsmen. Shots of the inside the castle. Shots of the wedding party. Shots of the wedding party inside the castle drinking to good cheer. They were all harmless photos, really, the kind that could have walked right out of a commercial or a JC Penney catalog, and yet I couldn't help but feel my cap-and-gown clad teenage heart begin to resurface again. Even if it was just a little bit.
It’s one thing to hear about it; it’s quite another to see it all played out like a Julia Roberts romantic comedy. At least if I’d just heard the news, it would remain a somewhat vague, abstract thing. But seeing it on Facebook makes it all too real.

Over the next few days, I looked at those pictures more times than I care to admit. I got to wondering: Why did this news of Brown-Eyed Editor’s nuptials sadden me so much? Why did I care so much about some guy I had a crush on in the 11th grade?

I eventually began to see that all the information you could ever want did come with a price. And in my case, a pretty high price, to be honest. When is too much information really too much? Where is the invisible line drawn between catching up with an old friend and knowing every intimate detail about their lives?

Sometimes, laundry, even if it's clean, still belongs tucked away in the closet. Facebook is like those fifth-grade health books during sex-ed week. You're repulsed, embarrassed and yet intrigued at the same time. You don't want to look, but you want to look. You don't want to know, but you desperately feel like you need to know. So you look, snoop and above all, keep on coming back for more

What’s more, Facebook is the measurement yardstick of choice for our generation. It's the best way we can stand ourselves side-by-side with our peers and see exactly how we measure up. And I couldn't help but feel like Brown-Eyed Editor was somehow farther along on that metaphorical Yellow Brick Road than I was.
But then again, those pictures revealed something else. He looked happy. He had that same glimmer in his eyes I used to stare at during meetings when we were supposed to be generating story ideas for the high school newspaper. He had the same laid-back grin on his face that never failed to put me at ease.

Maybe that's what I missed - the used-to-bes and yesterdays of adolescence. At 17, you have visions of the future as bright as the sunshine on your graduation day. You throw your cap into the air and envision your dreams sailing away with it. At 17, a large part of me actually thought Brown-Eyed Editor and I would get married someday. But I wasn't the one he chose. And so on his wedding day, I'm sure he knew how much his life was going to change. But I doubt he had any idea that it changed mine as well. I closed another chapter in my life, perhaps a chapter that was long overdue for an ending. Maybe not the ending I wanted, of course, but an ending nonetheless. Because we don't always get that fairytale ending we want.

The 17-year-old girl may have been sad that she wasn't the one, but the 32-year-old woman somehow knows I’ll be okay in the end.

I'm sure the newlyweds will have lots of stories to fill their new life chapters. I just hope I don't have to read about too much of it on Facebook. But, like any good book, I probably will because some good books you just can't put down.

[Middle photo via Le Love]

3 comments:

  1. This is such a beautiful perspective on the awful ogling we all do on Facebook. Perhaps the reason to have an unplugged wedding is not just to ensure the couple's privacy, but to protect those we once loved from experiencing that very real twinge of heartbreak in discovering those people have continued to change.

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  2. I agree ... great perspective! I remember in 9th grade a crush I had was kissing another girl in the hall ..... fate sometimes has better plans for us though (I promise) Back when I was in school - we passed notes in class (on notebook paper LOL) There was no computers or Email. PS- I love your picture in cap and gown!!! cute as a button! :)

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  3. Perhaps the purpose to have an disconnected marriage is not just to make sure the partners' comfort, but to secure those we once liked from suffering from that very actual twinge of heartbreak in finding those individuals have ongoing to modify.

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