Friday Angst: a manifesto on love, based on the Baz Luhrmann version of Romeo and Juliet, dedicated to Oline

Yesterday, I received this wonderful gift in the mail from my bosom friend Oline’s father:

With this note:

And here’s why:

Had Oline and I known each other as young girls, we would have been inseparable, primarily because of this, and this, and this. And this, and this, and this.

And this:

April 12, 1997 Saturday 8:31 pm

[Age 15]

Last night we watched Romeo and Juliet, as it came out of video Tuesday. I cried in all the same places. I felt the quickening of my heart as Leonardo DiCaprio filled the screen. He looked at Juliet the same way I remembered—I still want him to look at me that way.

It’s the idea of Romeo and Leonardo DiCaprio that saddens me the most. I know that Leonardo is only acting. That he really goes to the bathroom like everyone else, buys groceries, went to school…the Romeo in the movie was so intense and focused his entire life on Juliet, as she did Romeo. That is what tears me apart. In real life, love is divided. One person does not make another the sole purpose of living. They have jobs, families, chores, school, hobbies…but in this movie, Romeo and Juliet have nothing but each other, which makes it entirely believable and understandable that they would kill themselves when they lost one another. That is what I want.

I want a movie Romeo who has no other obsession but me. I want to be free of all other ropes but him. I want to meet him in the courtyard and kiss him until midnight without worrying about getting up early for school the next day. I want intense romance! Or any romance!

I would take Romeo as a schoolboy who cooks dinner every night for his mother and walks the dog after doing his homework. What I do not want—what makes me terribly unhappy to think that this is the only love left in the world—is to be caught up in a meaningless relationship with a boy who is placid and unpassionate. Who leads me around school on an iron arm like many couples I see. Those people have boyfriends (and the other way around). There is no need behind it as there was in Romeo and Juliet.

They needed one another to escape the violence and hatred between their houses. There is no desperate love behind the relationships I see in school. The two people do not love one another to the point where they are consumed by the mere glance of their lovers. They do not speak of each other as being “the sun” or “a rose.” They speak of grades and friends and sports—which would seem vile on the tongues of Romeo and Juliet while proclaiming their love on the balcony:

“Romeo, o’ Romeo, where for art thou, Romeo? Deny thy father and refuse thy name, and if thou wilt not be but sworn my love, then I shall no longer be a Capulet.”

“Shall I speak now, or hear more?”

“Oh Romeo. What is in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet as would Romeo remain.”

“I am here! What did you get on your math test?”

Awful! Anyway, I have not had a boyfriend so why even ponder what I would do with one. I just love the idea of being in love. I mean really BEING IN LOVE and not just using that person as an extra friend (whatever that meant). One thing I noticed in Romeo and Juliet is that when they are together, they don’t speak of their families or friends. They look only at one another. That is the look Romeo (Leonardo DiCaprio) gives Juliet that makes me cry. He is filling his eyes with HER and sharing himself with HER at the same time SHE is filling her eyes and mind and heart with HIM. That look of utter love and tenderness is what makes ME love Romeo and Leonardo DiCaprio as Romeo. It is the look I am waiting for.

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3 thoughts on “Friday Angst: a manifesto on love, based on the Baz Luhrmann version of Romeo and Juliet, dedicated to Oline

  1. Tracey Neithercott says:

    I love this. I think I saw that movie a hundred times when I was a teen. My friend and I were so obsessed with Leo (as we called him) that we cut photos and articles from magazines and brought them in to school to share with each other. I also had a huge poster of him on my wall. To cement our obsession, we rented every single movie of his. I have to say, though, aside from The Beach, there isn’t really a movie of his I didn’t like.

    Also, I’m 28 and still have a crush.

  2. dougery says:

    “I want to meet him in the courtyard and kiss him until midnight without worrying about getting up early for school the next day. I want intense romance! Or any romance!”

    I love this. Mostly because of the inherent contradictions. If you really WERE the type of girl who was making out with boys until midnight you very likely would have been “one of those couples” you saw in the hallway who asked each other about their math scores because they got shitty grades from never studying.

    And how easily Intense Romance! becomes “Any Romance!”– the single word ‘or’ is all that divides them.

    What i find MOST interesting is the way you betray yourself and your juvenile ideas of love. Because they were just like mine and no doubt just like so many other romantical / dorky people. i.e. most of all you wanted someone to be obsessed with you. Love as validation for you being Worth It.

    It takes a long time I think for a person’s idea of love to change from this kind of validation to an idea of loving someone else because you like making them happy. Maybe some people never get to that point. And yeah, I know it’s not so simple. Most (healthy) relationships are a goopy mess where the pendulum is constantly swaying from one person needing validation to the other.

    It is also easy to overlook, in a long term relationship, the transition from one form of obsession to another. The initial “can’t be without you for even a single second” is what makes it into all the storybooks but that kind of obsession is unsustainable and most times even unhealthy. There is only so long a person can live on cupcake icing and 3 hours sleep (as I did, almost exclusively with you).

    But isn’t it also obsession when you decide, consciously or otherwise, to stick to someone forever? To be by their side when they are not their best? To lower one’s guard and let all the weirdness creep out?

    Because I think life is sustained on that wierdness. The tics and quirks and stuff you don’t even tell your parents because they might think you might have had some sort of psychotic break. But you let me see that stuff because you understand I won’t run away and that I can give you all the wierdness you can handle right back.

    Even if I do look something more akin to the bastard offspring of Jason Swartzman and Jim Carrey and less like the flaxen haired boys of your youth.

  3. osutein says:

    “That he really goes to the bathroom like everyone else…” I LOLed at this, especially as it came so soon after your husband’s post on the perils of buying toilet paper.

    I had a friend in high school who was obsessed with this movie. She had an entire scrapbook dedicated to it and spent every lunch hour for months happily decorating it with photos from the movie she’d cut from magazines and her own writings and drawings (this included drawing hearts around the words Leonardo and DiCaprio). So, you were not the only one! She’s a doctor now, so there’s probably some kind of correlation between IQ and obsession with this movie among women who were teenagers in the mid-90’s.

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