Sunday, 12 August 2012

Love Story

Yesterday, I watched the 42 year old Hollywood weepie of the above title starring Ryan o’Neal and Ali MacGraw. It was  a groundbreaking film for its time as the love portrayed was gritty and honest. Ali Macgraw’s character , Jenny, packs quite punch and her language is altogether more earthy than Oliver Barrett VI, played by Ryan O’Neal. 

It’s the classic love story of poor girl marries rich boy after meeting at university. Naturally, poor girl dies (from a rare blood disease) and rich boy mourns. The great punchline of the film is: “love means never having to say you’re sorry,” which is poignant in the film but meaningless to those of us who’ve lived or are living our very own love story.

There’s a love story woven into the tapestry of our lives. It’s different for everyone with both happy and sad endings. Love is not a fairy tale and this film bears testimony to the many struggles that accompany a seemingly perfect love. Conflict with parents, financial worries, class issues, ill health are all played out against a fateful storyline.

When I was a teenage dream
This film is close to my heart as, when I was an impressionable 16 year old, I fell in love. Although the film was already ten years old it was still fresh in people’s psyche. I cast myself in the role of Jenny as I was poor, studying to go to university and dark-haired. “Oliver” was the Ryan O’Neal look-a-like in my neighbourhood, fair-haired and rich. We met at a mutual friend’s party and, to my utter amazement, he was attracted me. I was in shock and seventh heaven all at once that the most good looking (and much sought after by other teenage girls) had noticed me. 

We started to go steady but I knew that his family disapproved but did their utmost to hide it. I often felt out my league at the high brow events he went to. He did everything he could, in his teenage way, to make me feel comfortable and accepted but my brittle self-esteem got the better of me. After a few months I ended the relationship and he took the hint. He had ambition and an illustrious future ahead of him so he pursued his destiny. Today, he’s successful – I checked him out on Google – and seems to be happy in the world he’s made for himself.

My unrequited love story
Due to a variety of negative factors, the most damaging being my poor self image, I didn’t even make it to university. I found a job and got on with the business of living a quietly, desperate life. I eventually got married to escape my home life (and to avoid becoming a miserable spinster), got a mortgage and had three children. I ticked all the boxes and smiled in all the right places but, deep down, a nagging doubt started to gnaw at me. My life was far from authentic and I found myself sinking into a depression. After 22 years, I extricated myself from that unholy state.

Our love stories are locked inside of us. They’re like a ship in a stoppered bottle. We replay it in our mind’s eye but we can’t touch it ever again. I’ve had slices of love in my life and I’ve made peace with my love story. I don’t over analyse it. I want to look forward to more love. For my past, present and future love stories I say thank you and thank you Hollywood for the memory.



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