My favorite teacher, discussing the practical applications of Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet, used to say that tragedy was best defined by a bad turn of events, which could have been avoided. The kind of malfeasance that wouldn’t have happened if, for example, Romeo had an iPhone 7 and could’ve gotten Juliet’s “I’m dropping some dope shit the apothecary gave me so I’ll be out for a day, kthnxdontkillurselfbai” text- assuming that Romeo hadn’t already used up his data posting sad selfies on Instagram with superimposed, whiny fuck boy poetry about that bitch ass Rosaline who, let’s be honest, kind of dodged a bullet there. Alternatively, if either Hamlet hadn’t been a Do Nothing Bitch with a communication problem, or if Ophelia had #woke the fuck up and realized her “boyfriend” was really just making her the side ho to his noticeably ill conceived revenge plot, she might not have decided to *ahem* “fall” into the river with her over-dramatic flower bundle. The only thing I give her props for is waiting until she was alone with Gertrude to engineer her untimely demise- there were no rescue missions coming out of that kween, let me tell you.
Even more depressing than the Shakespearean implications of what happens to young women who sleep with English majors (words, words, words), is the thematic observation that, when it comes to shit going wrong, crushed hope is always the most painful. If Juliet had had the presence of mind to realize that she was just a Virgin Who Can’t Drive, and hadn’t naively anticipated a blissful marriage after one dark balcony make-out sesh, she probably wouldn’t have thought taking drugs from an old man covered in dirt was the answer to her preteen, hormone driven existential crisis. Similarly, had I known a year ago what I know now about people who think you can “win” a relationship, I might have avoided a Hamlet level, self-absorbed fuck boy situation entirely- from here on out referred to as the “Oh-Hell-No”, because we could all use a bad Shakespeare pun in our lives. Also, Othello is the worst, but Disney condemned Iago to being Jaffar’s sidekick parrot so that makes it a little better.
I know, I know. Who needs another pseudo-intellectual exploration of unfortunate events and feels? But this is my blog, and I do what I want. If you don’t like it, go read Buzzfeed.
The point is, having hope is allowing yourself to feel pain. Even when logically you know that chances are slim you’ll become a bestselling author by 25 and be able to quit your little-fish job for the joy of half-assing sequels and eventually selling out to a Major studio to watch them turn your life’s work into a pretty, 20-something filled money machine- there’s still a small piece of you that thinks, however quietly, maybe.
That little voice of hope, that tiny whisper of fantastical possibility, is what makes it hurt when things don’t work out. If you don’t like your tinder date, you don’t give a flying fuck at a rolling donut if they never text you again. If there was no part of you that thought a Bad Boy would become a Good Guy, you’d let him ride off on his motorcycle with his chest tattoo and DJ Instagram account without a fight.
Apparently, being a person means hoping. It means losing, and it means pain. Some might say, it sucks dick (and not in the good way). Still, somewhere between telling my beleaguered Best Friend and my Work Husband the embarrassing story of my dumb ass being a whole fuck-and-a-half’s worth more forgiving than it should have been, I realized with a scary amount of adulting and maturity that between me and Mr. Oh-Hello-No, I would rather be me. Sure, Ophelia was a dumbass who thought that the Prince of Denmark was a discreet one night stand, but girl followed her dreams. Even if they were tied up in an unbearably whiny, soliloquizing, 30-year-old man-child. Besides, life expectancy in Middle Age Denmark was like, 40 anyway.
The best thing that can be said about hope and pain is that either the pain goes away, or the hope does, and a pleasant numbness sets in until death. I’m kidding! I’m kidding- but truly giving up on something, or someone, gives you permission to stop hurting. Put the knife down, Juliet! Your parents’ strife is someone else’s problem. They were gonna marry you off to a dude named Paris, for God’s sake. I guess the lesson here is that you’ve gotta care about something, and then you’ve gotta draw the line. It’s “better to have loved and lost” as long as nothing ends in suicide, am I right?
My own personal tragedy could have been avoided, and it’s the “what might have been”, Dean Martin soundtracked heartbreak that’s always the worst. Once those visions have dissipated however, and your Castle on a Cloud looks suspiciously like life with someone who gives so little fucks about you that they’ve built your goddamn house on a mass of condensed water vapor floating precariously in the atmosphere, your heart starts to heal.
Isn’t it good to know, after all, that you have one?