Early 20th literature is absolutely lousy with ‘em: a girl, glimpsed once in a nimbus of golden light, then cherished for decades, her memory growing tattered and stained with the sepia of nostalgia.
What are the great lost loves in my generation? A few pitchers of happy-hour beer, some well-intentioned groping, maybe a submission to Texts From Last Night.
Maybe I just don’t run with the lovesick crew, but for the dudes I hang out with, the idea of an immortal romance lasts only as long as the Google cache of the blog they vented about it in.
Is it our Twitter attention spans? Does the miracle of modern technology (and all of the yummy pictures of Seth Rogan it exposes us to) burn us out on love? Maybe if someone had made Twitter accounts for the roster of the All-Boy Clubhouse Of Infinite Longing back in the day, literature would have been cured of the Epic Yearn.
JayGatz: Dude one second it’s all “you always look so cool” and now Daisy’s poking Tom on facebook. Whatevs. @jordanbaker, wanna “hit the links”?
OdysseyAtSea: I just became the mayor of Calypso’s Crib on @foursquare. (You know where to find me if you want me, @Penelope.)
Rhett Butler finally gets sick of poking Scarlett on Facebook and wanders over to a link to Suicide Girls, who are just as emotionally unavailable and – bonus! – require significantly less blockade-run fabric to sew their own outfits.
Maybe we’re just burned out by over-exposure. When Mark Twain was 22 years old, he met a girl for just three days, and spent every night of the next 57 friggin’ years dreaming about her, writing about her, collapsing like a dead star around her memory until the last of his tormented days.
Meanwhile, when I email a guy on Craigslist, before we’ve even met, he’s read five years’ worth of my personal thoughts, gone through my 200 pictures on Facebook, and knows the names and occupations of my last three boyfriends. Mark Twain single-handedly de-forested half of northern California to write a girl love letters for a lifetime; Craigslist guy only texts me when he’s drunk.
Probably the scarcity of Epic Yearns in my generation is a good thing. Like jean shorts and cocaine-infused soda pop, it was a fad with disaster scrawled all over it. Still, as a semi-professional unrequited lover, I mourn the loss of the Epic Yearn. Maybe it’s un-hip to be so earnest, but I like the idea of living in a world in which love is brutal and enduring. Or at least takes more than 140 characters to summarize.
How about you, kittens? Is Epic Yearning best left to moldy old novels, or do you too burn for something bitter and ecstatic?
* Ed’s Note: For those not up on texting lingo, less-than-three refers to the ‘less than’ sign on the keyboard and the numeral 3. So the result is <3 (get it…looks like a sideways heart!)
“And then you broke my heart” Dare Darlington @ flickr.com. Creative Commons. Some Rights Reserved.
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