Monday, 13 February 2012
Amongst the plethora of essays of love on the web, I have 3 favourites. What do these stories have in common, other than being well-written and hailing from the best-ofs section of Craigslist? Look at their titles and see if you can guess:
That’s right – none of them end on a happy note. Apparently, the relationship stories that I enjoy all share recurring themes of death, fate or reminiscence. While I admittedly like a heart-melting tale of romance as much as the next person, there’s a certain wretched and sickly feeling about a couple being separated, especially by factors beyond their control, that happy endings cannot capture. Sure, you could attribute it to sensationalism, in that negative news sells better than positive news. But note also how rosy love stories tend to appear sappy by exaggerating and glossing over minute details, whereas sad endings are more delicate in describing human nature and emotions. See for example the ending to “A Letter to My Dead Girlfriend”.
‘Every morning when I wake up I forget for a fraction of a second that you are gone and I reach for you. All I ever find is the cold side of the bed. My eyes settle on the picture of us in Paris, on the bedside table, and I am overjoyed that even though the time was brief I loved you and you loved me.’
Boom. That’s powerful and instantly believable. Against the backdrop of death and separation, their ephemeral love will last for an eternity. In “I Still Miss Her”, the author is still replaying that fateful morning walk in his head and bemoaning what they sacrificed half a decade ago. And before “Our Connection is Over”, I had never read such an honest and vivid account of the desolation one feels when “falling out of love”.
Through their words, you can feel how the act of writing is in itself a form of self-therapy for the heartbroken authors, a purging of feelings out into the open-air. Their emotions are raw, the scars still visible, and a wince of pain remains when memories are provoked. Not surprisingly then, happy romance stories in comparison often seem like bragging in disguise – “Oh look at me I’m flying so high!”
Make no mistake, there is little to no drama in these stories. They are not soap operas, and don’t involve cheating or unwanted pregnancies or anything of that sort, because that would be sensationalism. It’s just, as a reader, I find sad endings to be far more intriguing than happy endings.