Thursday, November 1, 2007

Hooking Up

Yesterday, I wrote a rather long and incoherent post which started out as a question from Katie about "hooking up" and sexuality and somehow ended with me ranting about TV and blaming it for everything that is wrong with the world including fast food (which I do believe but it would take a book-length research project to even begin to prove it).

Today, if you'll bear with me, I'm going to sort that last post out a bit.

I'll begin, again, with Katie's comment, "People are always making movies about high school but no one has ever made one about how kids "hook up" and call it love."

By hooking up, I think Katie means, going to a party and connecting with someone in a way that gets you and that person alone in corner together. The way Katie has explained it to me, high school hookups don't usually end in sex (though I'm sure that some do.) It's more about reaching out for the closest person and getting, you know, even closer. And then, when the party's over, you un-hook, in whatever way that is accomplished--awkwardly, sleepily, gratefully--and that's that. No phone call. No hand holding. No swooning the next day. No expectations.

We used to call it making out. Today, it's called hooking up. And just to set the record straight, this is not TV's fault... people have been hooking up, making out and making whoopee for as long as there have been boys and girls on the planet.

Of course, nestled into Katie's observation is her longing for a deeper hook up, a real connection: Love. But this sort of thing isn't about love. It's closer to weight training. Think about it.

When you first start out, you have to build a little muscle. You can't just go into the gym and lift the barbells; you start with the five pound hand weights, doing as many reps as you can manage before heading home to soak in Epsom Salts. You have to work up to things.

Hooking up (as I recall) is like that. It's about trying this and trying that. It's, "Where should I put my tongue?" and "This feels weird but kind of nice." and "Do I hold my head tipped to the side or straight?" and "When is it okay to touch her body--and where?" and of course, it's about "How far is too far?" and "Will s/he respect me in the morning?" It's about experimentation and exploration and preparation for the day when you hook up with someone who kinda sticks to you--in a Velcro sort of way, a way that doesn't quite let you forget about the night before, a way that makes you want to pick up your cell phone and, you know, I.M. the person. And that's when all the preparation pays off, because when it is about love you want to be ready--and you want to know where to put your tongue.

Our entire culture is fascinated by high school--and even more fascinated with sex. We remember the excitement, the groping, the dark closet where, exiled in a game of "Seven Minutes in Heaven" with the boy with bad breath and damp hands we tried something new. We remember the moment, a while later, when the other boy, the one with the incredible eyes and the megawatt smile walked up and, because of that time we spent working things out ahead of time, we were ready.

I remember. And so do you.

"People would like a movie about that," I told Katie. "And if this is a fascination of yours--then that's a movie you should... I mean, could, make." And if Katie does make this film, people will also learn from it. People, including me. They will learn the difference between hooking up and love; and how one doesn't necessarily lead to the other. They will learn about being 16 and creative and eager and curious, while also managing the panic, self-doubt, and general weirdness of that age.

I don't want to brag... alright, yes I do. My daughter is an extraordinary filmmaker, already. She's also a strikingly beautiful young woman, poised on the very edge of her sexuality. She reminds me, at this moment in time, of Venus, freshly emerged from her scallop shell, a little timid, but also curious and eager; just about to dive into the fullness of her body and her beauty, just about to "hook up" with something new. The questions she's asking, like the comment that started this discussion, come every day--hooking up and strengthening her connection with her core self, and her discernment, as she decides what works and what doesn't work for her.

Observing this process, I alternate between awe and memory, protectiveness and the tiniest bit of envy. For I have no doubt that Katie will meet this new stage in her life with thoughtfulness, tenderness and artistry. And that's a wonderful way to hook up with, and fall in love with life.

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