This Is The Age Of The Understatement

jenny downing
jenny downing

I listen to Mark Knopfler whenever life seems dull and uninviting. Something’s gonna happen to make your whole life better. It reminds me of summers when I was a kid and vacations with my parents at the seaside made life glamorous, that kind of glitz only the start of the nineties had. It’s the kind of song you’d play at 5 am, before the dawn of a brilliant summer day, when birds cross the sky and you know life will be good. People start walking on the street, cars start moving, you hear whistles and heels battering the pavement in the city morning glow, holidays look ahead, boats and trains and planes, and the air feels warm and windy, your typing machine is filled with lust of creation. Lovers walk together side by side on the street, friends come for vodka lemonade at seven and your Givenchy red coat hung in the door from last winter reminds you you’re still in a not-so-far but so different time and age, when all of the above were possible and normal. A time when people still loved, loved better. Still had the stars in their eyes. Like Kate and Johnny who met at the Cafe Tabac in New York City in January of 1994 and openly admitted to a first sight mutual crush. There was no better time for everything to talk about passion: music, movies, records, style.

Loving someone today seems almost an obscenity.

As much as I would like to call it profusion, we’re facing a sort of confusion with the ascent and nerve of a TV drama series. When I look around, I feel that people of the same age divide. I could actually point them out and divide them myself, like Moses did with soup. I mean water. My point is: there are those who decide to put a ring on it once they hit mid twenties and the rest, who decide to hook up more or stay indoors more (depending on the monthly booze-tobacco-expensive footwear-pasta-books-mascara budget), lose weight, make a diy business, go to Africa or hit the therapist (not in the face, but some might also consider that after their cash withdrawal receipt failed to match their self esteem boost).

We don’t need to be teenagers to become confused, and I for once know there wasn’t so much confusion around back in ’97. It’s floating around, it protrudes through the torn sleeves of your shirt, it itches your skin, it melts in your Starbucks latte. It’s responsible for your bad breath, bad habits like smoking 2-3 packs a day, exchanging walking with cabs or intentionally forgetting to say hello to all the friends that you hate because they’re happy. It’s in the mindless sex you have only for the sake of  f e e l i n g  something better than tequila. In the plane tickets you buy wishing you didn’t come back.  It eventually makes us go on Facebook and like that sappy sad page “My friends are getting married; I’m only getting drunk”. Coke, bikes, beer, drunken girls at 2 am, top 5 easy ways to get in their pants, post hipsterism, electronic vibes, Florence and The Machine on the rocks, riding in cars with boys, Urban Outfitters. The labels of a an artsy fartsy world filled with confusion.

Stupid takes it all.

We use the confusion to be hype. We glamorize it. We totally dig it, it gets us free drinks in bars at 3 am and looks  a m a z i n g  with a Prada purse. It’s a good excuse for taking candid street shots of yourself in underwear and socks and posting them on Facebook AND a successful pretext for looking  jaded and intangible with a cigarette in the corner of your mouth and a washed out smelly t-shirt at 4 in the morning in clubs, like a cheap reproduction of James Dean.
Yes, we LOVE the confusion. It reminds us we’re an exclusive circle of fucked up people, with a certain agenda, a vibrant lifestyle and a preference for teenage girls or just girls who sing in bands. It reminds us we’re amazing, popular, happy, lost and, well, incredibly lonely.

We think about love once in a while, because it’s nice and it’s warm and it was sometimes fun, before that bitch or that tosser spoiled it. Then it just didn’t matter any more. My friend A. thinks we’re not set to have a successful relationship unless we’ve just gotten out of adolescence or we’re late close to our thirties. Because it’s then when we have the purity or the maturity necessary for love to thrive…what’s in between is just confusion, she says. Being there, now, being part of the universal confusion makes it feel like a post teen despicable adventure where looking for “something” is at times intertwined with looking for “someone”. There’s always a craving that pushes you back in your seat when the girl from last night’s party who’s sleeping next to you wakes up and amazes you with perfect coffee and there’s nonetheless always another craving when you think you’ve seen a guy too much and failed to get attached.

There’s nothing good about getting older-absolutely nothing-because the amount of wisdom and experience you gain is negligible compared to what you lose. You do gain a couple of things-you gain a little bittersweet and sour wisdom from your heartbreaks and failures and things-but what you lose is so catastrophic in every wa. – is what Woody Allen told Interview Magazine back in 2009. And I couldn’t stand more up to it. I mean, look at us. We meet people. We get involved, we fall in love. Then we fall out or apart and carry on looking for something or someone else. Sometimes by free will, some other times as requested by events. And the worst part is, we don’t ever get better. We are scarred, from every romantic mishap or life punch. We get all dramatic and shit because we are afraid to get close to anyone, and anyone is not getting any closer either, so we end up playing a major difficulty missed connections themed ancient computer game.

And tables have turned. I hear this thing a lot, that girls today are more of a man than of a woman. That we treat guys the way they treat gals. That we have more of that and less of this. The irony in that statement is not far from truth though and Lena Dunham could put her finger on it. I was never the hopeless romantic type, rather the hopeful, realist, indecisive romantic. I was split between the longing for being in a healthy, amazing relationship with someone and the urge to break loose from that commitment and indulge in my loneliness or engage in different kind of liaisons that didn’t resemble or cultivate stability. I like the part where wit and sarcasm intertwine in conversation only to make it juicier or to pull out reactions in people. I like the distance. I grew attached to being alone as much as I grew fonder of friendships and less interested in the love math. Because it comes packed and fully equipped like kitchens from IKEA with bumps, breaks, issues, arguments, landmarks and other things that tie a knot that eventually strangles you some time later and you spend double the amount of time you invested in that cuisine sweeping the floors and wooden doors from blood, sweat and memories. I know, however, we all need sometimes the good old patterns in order to function.

Which reminds me how my good friend Julie once pointed out in a bar over Margaritas that male behavior is so ’80s and all we get now is a bunch of pretentious pricks who start whining once you stop answering your machine. I’m not saying men are turning into pussies or emotional train wrecks (I think that’s a word Perez Hilton or any socialite/celebrity gossip magazine would use right now for this matter), but I am pointing out that we don’t play our parts any more like our forefathers did. And don’t get me wrong, I am a feminist, but when I see a dude bitching around and about with an attitude wider than Queen Latifah’s ass, well, let me say: HUGE turn off.

Meanwhile, how are we supposed to feel when everything seems to fall into place without further amendments? How are we supposed to deal with situations and people that could be right for us, yet, we are attracted to all that drama, to all that misery and heart consuming aching that love and life brings when it doesn’t work out. When it’s relentless. When it looks complicated. That just sounds sick in theory but we always end up doing it in practice. We choose sadness allegedly because it helps us get better, wiser, brighter, more creative or smart and the only way to do it seems to be through it. However, it also makes us poisonous, creepy, cynical, judgemental and uneasy. It makes us run from what’s good, makes us go for the perfect disease, and we all know The Wombats agree.

In reality, the age we live has little to do with commitment. Attachment is spam. We got friends for that, sometimes still parents. We’re more attached to jobs, GIRLS TV series, Hazelnut Toffee Latte, our wallet, our drinks and our diet plan than to a person. And when we get attached, it sucks, and we have to run with scissors. Because we start  f e e l i n g  and feeling means positively hurting, it means loathing and it also means intercourse, but it still sure means exclusiveness and in the end, fighting.

Then we’re stuck in that chair at that class reunion/wedding/party where everyone we used to know is coupled and our skin starts to itch from all the “love is in the air”. We go home, crack a bottle open, sit on the couch and let the monsters creep in. Loneliness is awesome. We only wish we knew how to get rid of it. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Ioana Cristina Casapu is a book author, photographer and producer living life in transit.

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