At a very early age, i quite well comprehended the notion of romantic love. In fact, the act of charting the rough waters of someone else's heart was always more invigorating to me than making out with them. Don't get me wrong, i wanted to kiss the girl - but that was mere kindling to the fire i hoped to stoke in her chest. I spent more ink and paper writing out clumsy emotives about how the air around my crush seemed to react to her beauty instead of describing the carnal ways in which i planned to screw her. I didn't avoid sexual imagery, it just seemed two-dimensional. Whereas, hooking into a young lass' soul and using it to draw her into a theatre of longing felt multi-dimensional to me.
This approach to the opposite sex was reflected in my film tastes (i am a self-professed cinephile, having seen well over 6,000 films - so it makes sense to use my cinematic appetite as a character witness). In high school, i developed a penchant for French romantic films (which really should be a genre all to its own). These films were not straightforward love narratives where girl meets boy, they fall in love, gratuitous happy ending follows. Rather, they would most likely consist of girl (who's already in a relationship) meets boy (who could be in a relationship too, but either way is inaccessible), they fall in love (truly she falls more for him than he for her), and it ends abruptly with both of them painfully longing for eachother yet realizing "this. cannot. be." Longing. The torture inherent in unrequited-but-obviously-existing love fascinated and stimulated me to no end. One of my favorite films of this type was Claude Sautet's "Un coeur en hiver"
It was my first introduction to the stunning Emmanuelle Beart. I have always developed huge crushes on screen idols (Phoebe Cates, Jennifer Connelly, Audrey Tatou to name a few) but none have ever reached the level of exasperating obssession as it did with Mme. Beart. At one point, i'd collected well over 100 print images of her from magazines, and any film she ever laid one dainty finger in i made sure to fastidiously view. In this particular movie, she played a young, extremely talented violinist whose career required custom-made instruments. It just so happens that the best in the business at hand-crafting wooden works of art was Stephane (played by Daniel Auteuil, Emmanuelle's eventual - albeit short-lived - husband). However, Stephane was someone who enjoyed the game of attraction more than the actual outcome. He expertly played Camille (Emmanuelle's character) like a fiddle, gaining her devoted adoration by film's end. However, Stephane cannot return this golden affection for his heart is in a deep, deep Winter. The film concludes with them briefly sharing a table at a typically beautiful, Parisian cafe, parsing some pleasantries before they stare into eachother's eyes with the knowledge that this - this pristine, romantic presentation - is all it will ever be between them. Camille departs, and the film ends with both of them training their eyes off into the distance, numb, cold, uncertain - overwhelmed and stunned by their mutual longing.
I was reminded of this film today as the memory of my somewhat uncustomary adolescent experience with romance popped into my head. What seems like eons ago, i wrote on the subject of how i have approached every romantic entanglement, declaring that it always requires the acquisition of consent from the maiden before i proceed. Perhaps i've made this connection before, but today it sunk home as i was traversing the cold urban streets, contemplating the long hunger that comes with winter. The character of Stephane had made his imprint on every relationship i'd attempted since first viewing his calculating meanderings. I sought to sustain that longing. Like a forceful gale filling the belly of a high sail, i turned my stern towards the gusts of unimpeded emotional fuel.
I'm not sure what this ultimately says about me. I know that in my minustrations, i strive to be incredibly didactic and controlled, and perhaps this has the effect of closing off a large portion of myself from potential romantic harm. Mine may often be a heart in winter, but one that is always aware that Spring and all the life/passion/animation it brings is blissfully around the corner.