As an adolescent I would get up to get ready for school, flick on my TV and there they would be: Cory, Topanga, Zack, Kelly, Dawson, Joey, Pacey, and all of the wonderful fictional television characters I grew up with.
I would watch Cory and Topanga hold hands in elementary school, Zack leave flowers in Kelly’s locker, and Dawson and Pacey constantly fight for the love of beautiful Joey Potter. These fictional characters painted the picture in my small impressionable mind about what “love” was.
Love was finding the person you were going to spend the rest of your life with in 3rd grade. Love was going to prom with the boy of your dreams, breaking up, but then finding each other again in college and getting married. Love was having your two best friends yearn for you and having to make the tough decision of choosing.
If I didn’t have anxiety enough as a 9 year old, this was overwhelming.
I would walk into school every day constantly looking around for my future soul mate. I would write love notes, become emotionally attached and always feel the need to have a boy’s attention. I blame this almost solely on my optimistic and naive heart created by these couples I spent most of my alone time with.
Being an adolescent is a stressful time; you’re worried about why none of your body parts are proportional, why boys and girls can’t stand in the same room without having anxiety attacks, why your friends hate you all the time (when they really don’t they just have nothing else to do than to bicker) and why you can never communicate how you feel. The last thing we needed was the added pressure of finding a soul mate while trying to remember to put on our Teen Spirit in the morning.
I still think there is a little part of me that finds the soul mate search a part of my daily life: standing on the T, walking down the street, standing in line at Starbucks wondering if any of these cute and mysterious men with their ear buds in will be my Zack Morris.
But I bring myself back to reality with the understanding that these shows have a beautiful place in my heart, tucked away with my naïve memories of fancy folded love notes and gel pens.
The late ‘90s and early 2000s kids have grown up into full functioning cynics just like the rest of the world, but we still have that little hope that our Cory/Topanga will come back or maybe that putting our ladder back outside our window will lead Joey Potter or Dawson Leary back in and life will be simple again.
These may have been unrealistic expectations to live up to but it’s better to have dreamed of love than to never have had dreams at all.