Sunday, July 10, 2005

Will Power

Amen, amen! but come what sorrow can,
It cannot countervail the exchange of joy
That one short minute gives me in her sight:
Do thou but close our hands with holy words,
Then love-devouring death do what he dare;
It is enough I may but call her mine.

- William Shakespeare, Romeo & Juliet

Watching Franco Zeffirelli's 1968 film adaptation of Romeo & Juliet, in my opinion the definitive version. Having lots of memories of working the Palo Alto Children's Theater production. Later, Palo Alto High School did a racial version (black Romeo, white Juliet) that toured the then Soviet Union in 1985. I went up for Mercutio, but didn't have any command (or appreciation) of Iambic pentameter. My audition failed miserably. I'd already had a starring role in The Real Inspector Hound, so my head was a bit big. I didn't take my failure well. Sam tried out for the touring show too and didn't make it (but not for performance reasons). We did end up doing the fight choreography though. I guess it was for the better, since we really had the opportunity to grow our relationship while our friends were off in Russia.

R&J held a lot of symbolism in our relationship. Moreso than anyone outside of it will ever know. Granted, our families were not at war, but they were as different as could be. There was a level of disapproval from her folks, although they were civil and courteous and eventually got the picture I was going to be there for the long haul. I think my folks clued in a lot more quickly - but she was spending more time at our place. We snuck into each other's houses during school nights to engage in shocking teenage debauchery, sometimes calling in absent to school the following morning (portraying each other's parents). I only got caught ditching once, and the Saturday detention (hello, Breakfast Club?) was totally worth the time spent with Sam. We adopted an us-against-the-world posture, and fell totally in love.

At times the intensity scared the hell out of me. I was 16, fer cripes sake. She was my first real girlfriend (with all due apologies to Kristin Halverson in 8th grade). But I can look back now and really appreciate it for what it was. And that is why, as corny and archaic and overplayed as much of R&J has become, I still cry when I watch it. Because teenage love is corny and archaic and overplayed... and intense. And I so vividly remember those emotions.

So she didn't kill herself with my dagger, and we didn't take half of fair Verona with us to the otherworld. But the result is the same. She's gone, my light has dimmed. I am changed. Eventually I hope I become stronger for the experience, but right now I feel like I've taken the poison. Still, I wouldn't trade the time we had together.

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