How 'Love & Basketball', 'The Wood' And Other Films Skewed My Perception Of Love
It's not that it can't happen...you shouldn't bet on it.
I was surfing through Facebook the other day and came across a quote that said:
"When I was younger, I wanted to be married by 23, let's all laugh."
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I chuckled a bit because when I was sixteen, I wanted to be married by 25. Back then I thought that at that age I would be balling as a young attorney and glowed the hell up. I also thought I would meet the love of my life, who would be a doctor or engineer. Somehow he would sweep me off my feet like in those romance films I grew up watching. You know signature love films Love and Basketball, The Wood and Brown Sugar to name a few.
I'm now 21, and law school is postponed this moment in my life. As a recent college graduate, I am living proof that being poor is expensive as hell. Not to mention at this age I thought I would be more experienced in the area of dating, but that seemed to be a struggle too.
I grew up sheltered, in a poor southern household spending most of my time caught up in the world of 90s Black culture, music, tv, you name it. Most of my childhood was immersed in this. Although I had friends, my friendships were limited to my house porch, lawn, and backyard. There were no such things as sleepovers or movie nights. When you're poor there's something about having that be the business of your home and immediate family. In other words, ain't nobody got time for others to see your struggle. As a young child living through this, it's hard when you start to build deeper relationships with neighborhood and school kids and can't further them because of the restrictions of your parents and struggle. This was something that would continue into my adolescent years. Aww, the golden years of puberty and growth. These are the times you begin self-discovery. I know right now you may be saying, girl, get to the point, I don't want to hear your whole life story. I promise it'll all come full circle.
While many of the young women and men around me were developing and looking hella cute, I was the walking struggle and student who had to deal with starting school late because I didn't have all my new school year necessities. You get the drift! These were the times where sex, relationships, teenage pregnancies, and lust were heavy topics in my community. This is also when I was taught the five golden signature rules:
1. Boys don't want anything but your panties, keep your legs closed.
2. Sex is something special
3. I will kill any man who touches you
4. You can date when you're 32
5. Did we say KEEP YOUR LEGS CLOSED
The conversations I would have about sex, especially with my parents would stick to much of this trend. It was never a comfortable conversation about what happens when you actually begin to like someone further than the normal like. Or perhaps how one can deal with your emotions as you battle through your hormones. It simple to them: just don't engage.
I get it, my parents made mistakes. They were parents at a young age and dealt with a ton of bullsh*t in their past relationships. They simply didn't want me to repeat those same mistakes. Their lessons were important to me and I cherish what I learned. However, I wished back then I had more open conversations and a better understanding of these things:
1. Child sexuality
2. Sex is something special and young women should not be threatened for liking or wanting to understand more about their sexual health and/or education.
3. Intimate experiences exist. Kisses and hugs are a part of that.
4. Sex is a normal part of our society. Instead of simply telling women to keep their legs closed one should open up a genuine and honest conversation about sex. This conversation should include how sex will one day knock on your door and can be a pleasurable or negative experience.
5. Wanting to have sex as a woman is nothing to be ashamed of. Wanting to be in a committed relationship and having sex is nothing to be ashamed of.
7. Casual sex is nothing to be ashamed of, as long as you're safe
8. Virginity is a manmade concept
These concepts of my understanding of sex and relationships derived at a later time of course. But before I reached these, I lived through the experiences of my friends who were sexually engaged discussing with them society and the foolery of dating in our time. Yes, I did have older siblings but reaching out to them was a HELL NO on this subject. Graduating from high school and entering college I faced the same struggles of dating, understanding intentions and the concepts of relationships and sex.
As I stayed obsessed with romance films, I became trapped in believing that my love story would be like finding a Q and Drea. I believed at this stage people would be more inclined to fall in love (you can laugh at me later)-I guess you can call me the hopeless romantic. Just because I was trapped in the worlds of fictional Black love, my life too would actually live out like the movies. Because God knows everyone else was dealing with some craziness of two-timing, confused, and savage significant others.
Instead of me wanting that, I’d rather fall idea of fictional characters, and 90s love song lyrics because that's where real love was cherished (at least in my young 21-year-old mind). That generation may have had their problems too, but the love songs of that time say otherwise.
My obsession is not my fault I suppose, but that's what I get for being trapped because nothing is like the movies and neither are the expectations we have of people. So here are a few lessons I've learned.
1. You can't fall in love like Q and Sidney if you can't play basketball!
No, you're not going to get a Q to look into your eyes on the dancefloor, or play you for your heart. Hell, if you don't even play basketball don't bother trying to have that dream.
2. The Wood is such a sweet love story all about coming of age. Alicia and Mike were dumb cute. But it's a story.
I promise you, you may have some great dances in your life. You might have some dubs where you fall in love and suffer from blurred waistline syndrome (ask somebody). But you may not have an "If this world were mine" moment. It's fine many of us don't.
3. You may meet a man who you are so in tuned with musically whose poetry and artistry knocks you off your feet. He may be the same man to break your little heart.
4. You may meet a man who is a really good friend, and he becomes your lover. Hopefully, he doesn't die like Kane in Menace to Society.
Clearly I'm joking.
Fun little lessons I learned indeed but the moral to the story is that: It's not that life can't happen like this or that little romance film love stories don't exist, but simply you shouldn’t bet on your love life to be like the movies!
When the love train comes it'll come! You just got to keep on strollin'. Keep on dreaming though because...
"If you are that special lover
Love keeps you tied to another
That's the way it goes on love's train
You don't need no, you don't need no ticket to ride"
—Con Funk Shun (1996)