The Pain of Temporary Pleasures

The feeling is universal. The familiar rush of oxytocin when you’re really into someone. How stupidly happy you become when you find out the feeling is mutual, no matter how bland your future together may seem. The roller-coaster high of emotions swirling through your system when you take your first bite into an ice cream cone on a hot summer day. Then the season passes, and your world crumbles into a crisp blend of longing and sadness. The sun shines a little less every day, and you beg for recovery. Autumn leaves fall—even nature edges towards the new term.

We listen to songs of powerful love stories so short they flash by within the blink of an eye. Our crazy adventures turn to memories as time passes, and we convince ourselves that nothing else could ever compare. The whole body shudders and our hands fall idly to our sides as we render ourselves complete fools to the physical cause of love.

“It reminds me of that old joke—you know, a guy walks into a psychiatrist's office and says, ‘Hey doc, my brother's crazy! He thinks he's a chicken.’ Then the doc says, ‘Why don't you turn him in?’ Then the guy says, ‘I would, but I need the eggs.’ I guess that's how I feel about relationships. They're totally crazy, irrational, and absurd, but we keep going through it because we need the eggs.”
- Annie Hall screenplay

Once in a while, I’ll snuggle up in my sheets with Annie Hall. Trudging through college and the highs and lows of meeting new people, I find myself growing more attached to the film’s characters. The eggs! In the face of temporary pleasures, feeling loved and wanting attention is such a universal craving that despite everything—all the heartbreak, loss, and confusion—we do it time and time again, because we are human.

I’ve had people come up to me at parties, asking nicely if I wanted to dance. They take my hands and hold my body close to theirs. We sway to the music and exchange secrets all night long. Then, morning comes and I check my heart to make sure I hadn’t made a connection with someone who didn’t feel what I felt. Last night I was so happy I was convinced it would last forever, but they pick up their bags and leave. Just like that, my made-up world of sunshine and bliss disintegrates into another bitter aftertaste.

To all the boys I’ve liked, I wonder if you ever liked me the same way. You never returned my messages. Does that mean you’re gone forever? There will always be a small part of you locked away in my heart. I hope the boy I like now wakes up every single day thinking of me. I hope the girl he loves finds pieces of me all over him. He deserves my whole heart and more—I wish he’d just take it.

I’m beginning to realize that owning up to my feelings is recognition of how my brain is wired to love and want human interaction. I’m learning to love so well it makes me cry, and I’ll pick myself up till I learn to dance again. Another thing I’ve come to terms with is that this doesn’t make me a failure within the feminist cause. Desiring companionship is nothing to be ashamed of, even if the world tells me that it’s not worth it, or something along the lines of “you have better things to do.”

As of right now, companionship feels like nothing but a fleeting thrill. Growing attached to the prospect of a hookup or a crush all adds up to momentary affection and bliss that’s over before I really get the chance to scream, “Wait, I think I actually like you!”

Moving forward, coping with relentless female hormones and an ever-growing desire to experience love in all forms, I look forward to longer seasons that mimic the spectacle of an everlasting summer day, when the sun seems to linger on the horizon. I’ll sail through my 20s not in anticipation of some sort of miracle, but rather a plethora of small feats that I can indulge in to satisfy my top secret, highly confidential, internal craving for the cliche butterflies-in-my-stomach type of love.

By Sonia Wee

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