“In the spring, a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love”
Someday someone will need to tell me what it is about rainy skies and muddy ground that gets all these young men lightly thinking about love. I’m not arguing that it’s true, I’m just curious about the chemical reaction. I don’t really think of myself as a young man, but yes – my thoughts lately have been focused on love. Weddings will do that to ya.
Specifically, I found myself thinking about the way we love when we are teenagers. It can seem ridiculous in hindsight, doesn’t it? Closer to shallow infatuation than actual “love”, even. But like Tony and Maria here, it can feel like getting hit by a lightning bolt. It’s instant, intense, and all-encompassing. That certain someone catches your eye, and the rest of the world just seems to step back into shadow.
Sure, it can be fleeting and fickle, but in that moment it can be so wonderful. You can see someone and be completely drawn to them, wanting nothing more than to hear their voice and hold their hand. As we age we’ll want more; intimacy, security, communication. Not when we’re young though. When we’re young it’s all about “this moment”. It frees us to open ourselves up quicker – something that will fall away as we age. It’s that openness to love that drives Romeo and Juliet, and likewise West Side Story.
So here we have the embodiment of that moment of love-at-first-sight. The music has slowed, the lights have dimmed, time itself has slowed. Each feels as if they are floating, a thought that is echoed by their posture. They feel as though they’re somewhere off-planet, up amongst the stars as illustrated by the twinkling lights behind them. They haven’t said one word to one-another. Heck, they haven’t even touched one-another yet, and here they are in love. We can see it in their eyes, in the way their bodies mirror each-other, in the goofy grins they wear on their face. What’s more the couples around them are right on-board with them. The other dancers mimic their movements, as if the love is infectious.
If we were in this scene with them and they told us they were in love, we’d probably scoff and shake our heads. We might even make a snide comment about what part of their body they were thinking with. However, as skeptical as the rest of us might be, this love is no less true for Tony and Maria. “I saw you and the world went away” as their song will later remind us.
Perhaps we outgrow this feeling because our hearts can only take it for so long. Perhaps like so many other things, it relies in the boundless energy of youth – the ability to endure and the capacity to heal. One might believe that world-weariness and the experience of heartbreak is what takes us away from love-at-first-sight…but maybe it’s just like so many other things in life.
Maybe it’s just a young man’s game.
Here’s three more from WEST SIDE STORY for the road…
This series of posts is inspired by the “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” series at The Film Experience. Do check out all of the awesome entires in their series so far